Being convicted of a criminal offense outside of Canada may make you inadmissible to Canada. This means that without the correct documentation and applications, you will not be allowed to enter. The criminal offence from elsewhere will have an equivalent under Canadian law, which is how border agents will judge inadmissibility and applications for exceptions to inadmissibility, such as a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation.
Convictions in Canada are either tried as summary offences, indictable offences, or hybrid offences. Summary are minor offences. Indictable are major offenses where the maximum prison sentence is more than ten years. A hybrid offence is when the case could be tried as either summary or indictable. Summary-only offences, when very minor and singular, will not make you inadmissible to Canada. Very few offences, however, will be tried or equivalent to only a summary offence; most are tried as hybrid offences. A border officer will judge a hybrid offence at the higher standard of indictable, therefore a hybrid offence will usually be grounds for inadmissibility. Indictable offences will always result in inadmissibility to Canada.
Convictions are also classified into two categories which affect inadmissibility: serious and non-serious criminality. Non-serious criminality involves crimes with a maximum prison sentence under ten years, for example fraud or theft of value under $5000. Anything else more severe, or causing danger to life, is considered serious criminality and limits options available for admissibility and rehabilitation. As of December 18, 2018, DUIs and dangerous driving will be considered serious criminality. If there is only one, non-serious offence on your record dating back more than ten years, you are considered rehabilitated. Serious criminality can never be rehabilitated simply by the passage of time.
On this page you will find a list of groupings of crimes that will deem you inadmissible to Canada. Although extensive, this list is not a complete list. If you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, the only way to ensure successful entrance is through an approved Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation application. It is advisable to seek legal representation and guidance to maximize a successful application and your chances of entry.
Offences Against Public Order
- DUI (including DWI, DWAI, reckless driving, etc.)
- careless driving
- indecent exposure
- disorderly conduct
As of December 18, 2018, DUIs and some other driving-related offences (including driving while impaired by drugs, driving while prohibited, fleeing from a police officer, and refusing a breathalyzer test) will be considered indictable offences and categorized as serious criminality, creating significant barriers to admissibility to Canada.
The rest of the offences in this category are considered hybrid offences under Canadian law. A hybrid offence can be a minor crime (summary offence) or a major crime (indictable offence), depending on the circumstances of the particular incident. Either way, an equivalent to a hybrid offence will deem you inadmissible to Canada. These offences against public order are considered non-serious criminality.
Offences That Could Involve Violence
- vehicular manslaughter (voluntary or involuntary)
- hit and run
- domestic violence
- aggravated assault
- hate crimes
Vehicular manslaughter and homicide are indictable offenses which are major and serious crimes. Hit and runs, domestic violence and assaults are considered hybrid offences and non-serious unless there is bodily injury involved, in which case it becomes serious criminality. Hate crimes are summary offences; if convicted as indictable, imprisonment does not exceed two years. Kidnapping is an indictable offence punishable by life in prison.
Offences Involving Drugs
- drug trafficking
- drug possession
- drug manufacturing or cultivation
Drug possession and possession with intent to distribute are both hybrid offences, the seriousness of the crime dependent on the illegal drug in question. Possession in large quantities may be considered serious, and trafficking is a serious crime with the exception of marijuana. Drug manufacturing or cultivation is indictable and a serious crime. Possessing drug paraphernalia is not a crime in Canada.
Offences Involving Weapons
- weapons violations
In short, you cannot carry a weapon in Canada. If the item is not concealed nor prohibited, and not being carried for a dangerous purpose, it is technically not illegal. However if a police officer sees you carrying such an item and makes a judgement that it is dangerous, you may face arrest and a criminal charge. Items such as brass knuckles are prohibited in Canada. It is also a serious crime to possess a firearm unless one has a licence and a registration certificate.
Offences Against the Administration of Law
- probation violations
- failure to appear
- resisting an officer (resisting arrest)
- aiding & abetting
- obstruction of justice
- evading arrest
Failure to appear and disobeying the court of law are hybrid and non-serious offences. Resisting an officer is a hybrid offence and only serious criminality if it involves a weapon. Aiding and abetting and obstruction of justice are hybrid offences and their seriousness depends on the severity. Any case that causes actual danger to life is a serious crime punishable by life in prison.
- sexual assault
- child pornography
Sexual assault and accessing and possessing child pornography are are hybrid offences, and the severity dependent on specifics of the case. Production and distribution of child pornography are indictable offences.
Invasion of Privacy
- computer crimes
Stalking is a hybrid offence. The crime is usually non-serious and the punishment severity dependent on the details of the specific case. Computer crimes can be an invasion of privacy but also covers all mischief in relation to computer data such as denying access of computer data to someone who is entitled to it and cyber-bullying. Computer crimes are summary offences but in the case that life is put into danger, it becomes an indictable offence punishable by life in prison.
Offences Against the Family
- child abandonment
- child abuse
- domestic violence
Domestic violence are considered hybrid offences and non-serious unless there is bodily injury involved, in which case it becomes serious criminality.
Offences Against Property
- breaking and entering
- motor-vehicle theft
- possession of stolen property
Shoplifting and theft of items valued under $5000 is considered a summary offence; over $5000 it can be considered an indictable offence with more severe punishments. Arson, larceny, breaking and entering are always indictable and serious crimes.
Fraud and Other White Collar Crimes
- credit card fraud
- money laundering
- identity theft
- wire fraud
- white collar crimes
- securities fraud
- insurance fraud
- telemarketing fraud
- tax evasion
White collar crime are commonly financially motivated, non-violent crimes committed by businesses and government officials and depends on the circumstances of the case in terms of seriousness of criminality. Fraud is the most prevalent of white collar crimes. Fraud where the value of the subject-matter of the offence is under $5000 may be treated as a summary offence. If the value is over $5000, it is an indictable, serious crime.
Each month, FWCanada helps individuals with a number of different immigration concerns, including those who are criminally inadmissible, those seeking spousal sponsorship, or those seeking to become a temporary foreign worker. FWCanada’s lawyers can lend their expertise to anyone seeking a temporary resident permit, criminal rehabilitation, a Canadian work permit or work visa, a study permit, a visitor visa, foreign worker status, and permanent residence. For more information on our services and areas of expertise, contact us here!
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