Will a criminal charge against me affect my immigration to Canada?

When you immigrate to Canada, you must be admissible. Of course, the same rules apply to foreign nationals who want to stay in Canada temporarily. Many issues could make you inadmissible. However, criminal inadmissibility is on top of the list.

What is criminal inadmissibility?

Before we explore inadmissibility due to criminal charges, you need to know Canadian immigration law divides criminal offences into two major groups:

If you have a criminal history in any country, make sure to ask a professional if it falls under any of these groups. Nonetheless, there could permanent or temporary solutions available to you. For example, consider reading these articles:

We could help!

Criminal charges and inadmissibility to Canada

Criminal charges are the ones that you receive from the police. However, you are innocent until you receive a conviction. What about the immigration law. Does it care whether you have a conviction or only a charge? Well, it depends on where the offences took place.

Criminal charges are in Canada.

If your criminal charges are in Canada, you won’t become inadmissible. Of course, if a court later convicts you, then you could become inadmissible. However, a simple charge won’t jeopardize your immigration or temporary status process. Regardless, there is a chance the immigration authorities put your application on hold until the outcome of your court hearings.

Criminal charges are outside Canada.

Unfortunately, criminal charges outside Canada could make you inadmissible. You may ask why? Isn’t it that I am innocent until proven guilty? Well, the answer lies in the standard of proof. In a criminal court, the standard of proof is normally “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Consequently, you only receive a conviction if the judge or the jury has no doubt you committed the offence. However, the standard of proof in immigration is “reasonable grounds to believe.” Therefore, if an officer reasonably concludes you have committed the offence, you may become inadmissible.

The nature of criminal charges is important.

Since the officer relies on reasonableness, they definitely consider the nature of charges. Here are two examples,

Example one: The UK police charges an Indonesian citizen because of uttering threats with a gun. They later deport that person. However, the charges remain unresolved as the court never reviews the case.

Example two: The Japanese police charge a person with shoplifting of a cheap shirt from a store. While they are investigating the matter, the person applies for immigration to Canada.

Generally speaking, the person is in the first example will definitely face inadmissibility. However, the second person is likely to be immune. Of course, the final decision is by an immigration officer.

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If you have an immigration-related question, fill out the following form. Of course, I’ll do my best to answer general questions under the Q&A category. A general question is like the one that I answered here (i.e. how a criminal charge could affect an immigration application). However, if the question is case-specific, I’ll advise you to book a consultation session.

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    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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