If you plan to apply for permanent residence in Canada, you may be unaware that certain criminal convictions can complicate the immigration process and many even stop it in its tracks. In some cases, even a criminal charge is enough to delay your immigration journey.
Unlike some countries, including the United States, Canada does not distinguish between misdemeanors and felonies. Instead, Canadian law classifies offences as either summary offences (minor) or indictable offences (more serious). Additionally, an offence can be either indictable or a summary offence depending on the circumstances. Because what constitutes drunk driving varies by country and sometimes even by state or province, it is very important to work with a Canadian immigration lawyer if you have such an offence on your record.
Drunk driving is not a major criminal offence in some countries, but it is taken very seriously in Canada. If you were convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in your home country, you may encounter difficulty obtaining permanent residence status in Canada.
Fortunately, we at Butkowsky Immigration Law have handled these types of cases before, and we can help you explore your options.
How Criminal Charges/Convictions Affect the Immigration Process
If you have a criminal record, including a drinking/driving related charge or conviction in your home country, your case is not hopeless. Depending on the nature of the charge or conviction, you can take steps to increase the likelihood of achieving your immigration goals. The bottom line is that certain convictions lead to criminal inadmissibility.
The circumstances and acts that may constitute criminal inadmissibility are numerous. You can learn more about the specifics of criminal admissibility here. In general, a person is deemed criminally inadmissible if he or she has been convicted of an offence outside Canada and less than 10 years have elapsed since the completion of the sentence, or if convicted of two or more offences that would be considered summary offences in Canada, if less than five years have elapsed since the completion of the sentence. A person will also be considered criminally inadmissible if convicted of an offence in Canada punishable by a maximum period of imprisonment of at least 10 years or if convicted of an offence where they are given a sentence of at least 6 months of imprisonment. In these situations, a person is considered to be inadmissible unless they have applied for and received a positive decision on an application for criminal rehabilitation. Otherwise, a person may be deemed to have been rehabilitated if at least ten years have passed since completing the sentence imposed or since committing the offence, if the offence is one that would, in Canada, be an indictable offence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of less than ten years. If you have a criminal conviction in Canada, you must seek a record suspension (formerly a pardon) from the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) before you will be admissible to Canada.