Immigration Law and Criminal Convictions


This post was written prior to our January 2017 merger, under our previous firm name, Aikins, MacAulay & Thorvaldson LLP.

If someone wants to come to Canada but has a foreign criminal record, is this a problem? The answer, in many cases, is “yes.” However, whether this is a big problem depends on whether the crime committed is “equivalent” to a Canadian crime.

How do I know if a foreign crime is “equivalent” to a Canadian one?

In order to do this, you have to compare the precise wording of the Canadian law to the wording of the foreign law. After that, you have to determine what the “essential ingredients” of both the offences are to see if the foreign crime is “equivalent.”

In some cases, it is necessary to look what actually happened to figure out whether the crime the person committed is “equivalent” to a Canadian crime.

If a person is convicted of an equivalent Canadian crime, can he/she still come to Canada?

Just because a person has been convicted of an “equivalent” crime does not mean that he/she cannot enter Canada. Canada recognizes that criminals can be rehabilitated. Whether a person is eligible for “rehabilitation” depends on the number of things including: the number of crimes committed, the type of crimes, and, the seriousness of the crime, the severity of the sentence, the risk the person is to reoffend, and whether the individual’s life has changed for the better.

If a person has completed his/her sentence more than 10 years ago, he/she may be eligible for “deemed rehabilitation.” If it has been more than five years since the sentence, he/she may be eligible for “individual” rehabilitation. Please note that it is not the number of years that passes that determines whether one is eligible. People who have committed serious or multiple crimes may never be eligible for rehabilitation.

If a person’s sentence ended less than five years ago, is there any chance he/she can come to Canada?

Individuals whose sentences ended less than five years ago may be eligible for a temporary resident permit to come to Canada. Whether a temporary resident permit will be granted will be based on a number of factors. In addition to the factors looked at for rehabilitation, the purpose of travel to Canada will also be looked at.

This article was originally published in Filipino Journal.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.

Reis Pagtakhan practises immigration and corporate and commercial law at Aikins.