Anyone planning to enter Canada for permanent residency, to study, work, or simply visit may be prohibited from doing so if he/she has been charged or convicted of a criminal offence. Even minor offences may render a person inadmissible to Canada.
We invite our readers to pose any immigration questions they have for our criminality specialists. At the bottom of the article you will find a link to where you can post your question.
1) Does a criminal offence of any kind make me inadmissible to Canada?
The short answer is no. It is not always easy to determine as to whether a criminal offence would render someone inadmissible to Canada. The important distinction is between summary and indictable offences. A conviction for a single summary offence may be ignored for Canadian immigration purposes. If an individual has been convicted of one or more indictable offences, or more than one summary offence he/she can be considered inadmissible to Canada, and should submit an application for Criminal Rehabilitation and/or a Temporary Resident Permit prior to entry to Canada.
2) How can I tell if my offence is summary or indictable?
The proper way to make this determination is to consult the Criminal Code of Canada or other relevant federal legislation. All criminal offences in Canada are punishable by either summary conviction or by indictment. Where an offence is hybrid, meaning that it is punishable by either summary or indictment, it is considered indictable for the purposes of Canadian immigration law.
3) Do misdemeanour convictions in the United States make me inadmissible to Canada?
People in the U.S. often assume that their misdemeanor convictions do not make them inadmissible to Canada. However, this assumption is often incorrect. Canada does not make a distinction between misdemeanor and felony convictions. The first step is to determine whether the foreign conviction has an equivalence under Canadian federal legislation. If there is an equivalence then as mentioned above, the true distinction in Canada is between summary and indictable offences.
4) I was stopped for speeding in the United States; does this make me inadmissible to Canada?
Usually, but not always, a speeding violation will not make you inadmissible to Canada. In order to be considered a criminal conviction in Canada, an offence must violate federal legislation such as the Criminal Code of Canada. Traffic violations generally fall under the jurisdiction of the Provincial governments in Canada and therefore are not considered criminal convictions. However, if someone has been convicted of the equivalent of reckless or negligent driving, this can be considered a criminal offence in Canada and might make this person inadmissible to Canada.
If you are unsure whether your offence will affect your Canadian immigration application, we suggest you contact an experienced Canadian immigration attorney.