Shabnam Akrami Blogs
Who Qualifies for Criminal Rehabilitation Application
Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation
When traveling to Canada with a criminal history, there is always a chance that you could be detained at the border or port of entry. Those wishing to enter Canada with a criminal record require special permission from an officer to enter. If you are screened and an arrest or criminal conviction is found on your record, it is highly likely that you will be refused entry to Canada.
People coming to Canada are often surprised when they are stopped and questioned by an officer about their criminal record. Even seemingly minor infractions like reduced charges and misdemeanors can make you criminally inadmissible to Canada and cause headaches at the border or port of entry. Naturally, more serious crimes such as felonies will be a problem, but misdemeanors such as the following could also be a factor in denial of entry:
Driving Under the Influence (Drugs / Alcohol)
Possession or Trafficking in Drugs or Controlled Substances
The important thing to remember is that your conviction in your home country will be assessed under the Canadian Criminal Code. For example, a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge may seem relatively minor, but under Canadian Law it could be treated as an indictable offense.
Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation allows you to be absolved of a past conviction on record. A Criminal Rehabilitation application must be submitted at a Canadian Consulate and cannot be processed at the border or port of entry. In order to qualify for Criminal Rehabilitation you must:
Have received a conviction
Have completed all aspects of your sentencing at least 5 years ago
Have been rehabilitated
Show that you are highly unlikely to re-offend
Completed your sentencing at least 5 years ago
To submit an effective Criminal Rehabilitation application, you will need to provide proof that all aspects of your sentencing have been completed at least 5 years ago. Quite often when an immigration officer checks a criminal database, only the convictions are present. For example, the database may not contain information regarding probation served. It is important to gather documentation that provides details on when fines were paid, probation was completed, community service was performed, programs were completed, etc.
Showing that you are rehabilitated
When the immigration officer is evaluating your Criminal Rehabilitation application, he or she is primarily concerned with your likelihood to re-offend. To be granted Criminal Rehabilitation, you need to be able to show that you have learned from your previous offence and have moved on. Some ways to show the officer that this is indeed the case are:
To have a clean record since the previous conviction
To demonstrate remorse for your actions
To demonstrate how you have changed since the time the offence took place
To show that you willingly complied with all aspects of sentencing and that there were no payment delays, probation violations, etc.
To demonstrate stability (for example, strong family ties or professional networks)
These are just some of the factors that an immigration officer will look for when assessing a Criminal Rehabilitation application. What it all boils down to is: Are you a risk to Canadians or Canadian society? If the officer believes you are not, then it is likely that your application will be successful.
Until now, we have only focused on misdemeanors and charges that would not receive a term of imprisonment of 5 years or more. However, there is a separate class of criminal convictions that fall under the designation of serious criminality. These are indictable charges such as:
The immigration legislation governing serious criminality can be found in section 36 (1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. To paraphrase, this section states that being convicted of an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would be punishable by a maximum prison term of up to 10 years qualifies as serious criminality.
Naturally, if you are applying with a conviction that qualifies as serious criminality, the Canadian Consulate will need more time and resources to evaluate if you are rehabilitated and not a danger to Canada. This could result in longer processing times and higher fees.
Application for Criminal Rehabilitation Form
When submitting an application for Criminal Rehabilitation, it is mandatory that you include the Application for Criminal Rehabilitation form provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. This 4 page form is unique in that the first 2 pages are to be completed by the client while the last 2 pages are completed by an immigration officer. Below is a summary of some of the important sections of the form:
Section 15: Offences / Convictions
A complete Criminal Rehabilitation form will contain information of all an applicant’s convictions, no matter how minor or how long ago they occurred. This section can be difficult to complete without legal help because precise information is required about the applicant’s criminal history. For example, an applicant must provide exact details for the dates of convictions and the conditions of sentencing for each.
Perhaps most challenging is providing the Statute Numbers for one’s convictions. Every conviction will have its own statute number and designation depending on where the offense occurred. If you are a resident of the U.S., this can become extremely complicated as each state uses its own system of statute numbers to classify a conviction.
An immigration officer will want to know what the equivalent conviction would be under Canada’s Criminal Code as well. Finding the correct Canadian equivalency for a conviction is crucial. At times, a conviction outside of Canada may not have a Canadian equivalent, in which case it cannot be treated as a criminality under Canadian Law.
Section 17: Purpose of your Visit to Canada
Having a valid reason to travel to Canada can help establish a sense of legitimacy to a Criminal Rehabilitation application. It can be harmful to be too vague in this section, which is why it is better to attach a separate letter detailing your purpose in applying for special permission to Canada. You may have heard that having business or clients in Canada is a valid reason. This is true, as it can be seen as beneficial to the Canadian economy, which is one of the tenets of immigration law. However, other reasons outside of business can be just as valid. Having immediate or extended family settled in Canada can be a factor here as well.
Whatever your reasons for applying for Criminal Rehabilitation, they should be clearly communicated in your application in sufficient detail. That way the immigration officer deciding on your case has the complete picture and can provide an objective assessment.
Section 18: Rehabilitation Factor
As mentioned earlier, the immigration officer needs to assess that an applicant is no longer a danger to Canada and is highly unlikely to re-offend. The Application for Criminal Rehabilitation suggests providing reasons why you consider yourself to be rehabilitated on a separate piece of paper. It won’t be enough to insist that you are rehabilitated with a written statement. The officer will be looking for definitive proof that you have learned from your previous incident and changed as a result.
Of course, having a clean criminal record since the offense occurred is a good start. In addition, providing documentation that shows you willingly completed all aspects of your sentencing without any delays is helpful. Beyond that, you should make an effort to show that you have achieved a sense of stability in your life. This can be most effectively communicated with:
A stable employment history
Strong professional ties
Strong family bonds
An applicant wants to show the officer that he or she has moved on and has reformed.
Processing Times for Criminal Rehabilitation Applications
Once your Criminal Rehabilitation application has been mailed away to the Canadian Consulate, you will have to be patient. Currently the average processing time for Criminal Rehabilitation applications is from 6 to 12 months, but this is a very general figure. Some applications may take up to one and a half years or more to process depending on the complexity of the application. The nature of the offences and the number of offences on record can also be a significant factor in processing delays. For example, serious criminality on record takes longer to process.
During the processing of your Criminal Rehabilitation application, there may also be delays if the Canadian Consulate needs to request additional documentation from you. This is why it is in your best interests to submit as much of the necessary documentation as possible when first submitting the application. Furthermore, if the Consulate requests a document and you don’t submit it by the deadline, it could have a negative impact on the final decision.
Fees for Criminal Rehabilitation Applications
If you choose to have legal representation for your Criminal Rehabilitation application, typical legal fees range from $1500 to $3000. The fee may vary depending on the complexity of the application. At the end of the process, if your Criminal Rehabilitation is approved, an additional government fee of $200 is needed to complete processing. Keep in mind that for matters of serious criminality, the Consulate may request an additional fee of $800, which when combined with the regular processing fee can total $1000 Canadian.
Contact Akrami and Associates
Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation is a complex process and requires thoroughness and attention to detail. If you are considering submitting a Criminal Rehabilitation application, contact our legal team today! Our Canadian immigration lawyers and regulated consultants have the knowledge and experience to help you put your best foot forward.