Every day, for innumerable reasons, people are crossing the Canadian border. This is a privilege that Canada is glad to provide to foreign nationals. However, many are refused entrance to Canada a result of their criminal inadmissibility. This means that their past criminal offense(s) prevents them from entering the country. To know whether you are criminally inadmissible, you must meet two criteria:
- You must have committed an offense in another country that would be equivalent to an offense under Canadian law.
- It must be an offense of a certain severity.
There is no specific standard to determine the equivalency of an offense between Canadian and foreign law, however, equivalency is usually determined on the basis of several considerations. These considerations can be a text analysis of the two statutes, or it could be an examination of the facts of the case by considering the circumstances and context surrounding the offense, in relation to the Criminal Code provisions.
The severity of the offense can be classified as one of two types. The first is Non-Serious Criminality, which encompasses any offense under a Federal Statute that is punishable by a maximum jail sentence of less than 10 years. The second is Serious Criminality, which encompasses any offense with a maximum jail sentence of 10 years or more.
If you meet either of the two criteria, you are inadmissible to Canada, which means you cannot enter Canada without going through certain application processes. Nevertheless, if you have a past offense(s) on your criminal record, it is advised to contact an immigration lawyer in order to help you determine whether you are criminally inadmissible. Immigration lawyers are experts and they will be able to direct you on the basis of your circumstances. If you are criminally inadmissible, an immigration lawyer will advise you on the proper applications to apply for, as well as guide you through your application process.
Temporary Resident Permit
If you have completed your sentence less than five years ago, the immigration lawyer will advise you to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). Immigration lawyers will assist you in the submission of your application, a service that the Canadian government does not offer.
If you have completed your sentence five years ago or more, the immigration lawyer will advise you to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. This is an application process that will absolve you of your Canadian inadmissibility. With an immigration lawyer, you will receive help with your application, as well as receive guidance and strategies in your application to demonstrate your rehabilitation.
No law requires the applicant to hire an immigration lawyer. However, the guidance you will receive for both TRP and Criminal Rehabilitation applications will positively impact the chances of your application’s success.
Consultants vs. Immigration Lawyers
Consultants are self-titled experts who have very little accountability and oversight, compared to immigration lawyers who are accountable to their respective bar association. Despite many attempts by the Canadian Government to crack down on fraud or incompetence, there are still many consultants who brand themselves as experts. There is no experience requirement to become a consultant, unlike immigration lawyers, and there are no academic barriers to becoming a consultant. Hiring a consultant is a gamble, every time.
As mentioned earlier, it is not required to hire an immigration lawyer to apply for any of the programs offered by the government. Nonetheless, it is advised for you to hire an immigration lawyer so that your application can be thoroughly completed. Immigration lawyers are accountable to their provincial bar. They are also required by their bar associations to attend professional education conferences and seminars. This guarantees a level of expertise that you will not get from consultants. Furthermore, Canadian immigration law and visa applications are notoriously complicated. A simple error on your application can lead to a rejection, which will be a waste of time, energy, and money. To become an immigration lawyer, one must have gone through law school and have trained under a practicing lawyer.
Getting an Immigration Lawyer
Getting an immigration lawyer should be simple, but often turns out to be confusing. Searching on the internet alone can add to that confusion, as the number of results can be overwhelming and the lack of guidance could be detrimental to the uninformed. Here are the three best ways to find an immigration lawyer:
- Reference: Having someone refer you to an immigration lawyer is perhaps the best way to hire an immigration lawyer. The person who refers you to this lawyer will be able to provide you with firsthand experience with the lawyer. However, do not be persuaded by a lawyer who claims to have “inside” influence in the government or in the immigration office. Two of the core values of the Canadian Government are equality and fairness, while nepotism is not tolerated.
- Their Website: A good and reputable immigration lawyer will have an up-to-date website which allows you to verify his credentials. A trustworthy lawyer website will also have informative content, in which they exhibit their knowledge of the law. An old or broken website is a signal for you not to hire said firm or lawyer.
- The Canadian Bar Association, or their Provincial Bar Association: The Canadian Bar Association has an immigration section, trustworthy and competent lawyers will most likely be members of the association. Lawyers will usually their declare to which association they are affiliated on their website.
Once you find a lawyer, the best thing to do is to call them and ask them to assess your application process, or to ask which application you should apply for. You will get a feel for their level of service as well as their expertise. If you are satisfied with your conversation and you wish to hire them, they will guide you in their respective client onboarding process. Hiring them will unquestionably improve your chances of success, as well as give you peace of mind. They are experts who have experience in your type of case, they will know how to guide you. Hiring an immigration lawyer is a decision you will not regret making.