Immigration FAQs

Should I apply for a Pardon/Record Suspension before applying for immigration status?
Yes. Having a criminal record can jeopardize your immigration application. Removing your record before you apply for immigration status will prevent any prejudice against you.

How will my criminal record affect my Permanent Residence Status and application for citizenship?
A permanent resident is a person who has been given lawful permission to permanently live in Canada, but who is not yet a Canadian citizen.

If you have a criminal record, your application for Canadian citizenship can be denied, delayed or put on hold. At the very least, it will slow down the process. If the conviction is for a serious offence, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) may decide to start removal proceedings for the purpose of removing your permanent residence status and deporting you from Canada. Even if you have been landed for many years or since childhood, your residency status may be taken away and you can be deported.

Sometimes criminal convictions from many years ago are brought to the attention of Immigration Canada years after the crime was committed. Even in such a situation, where the criminal record is old, Immigration Canada may still take away the person’s permanent residence status and deport them.

If you are applying for Canadian citizenship, it is best to do so only after you have sealed or destroyed your criminal record.

I received a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) stating that my application for Permanent Residence Status (landed status) is being denied because I have a criminal record.What can I do?It is best to start the process to have your criminal record removed immediately. You should notify Immigration Canada that you are having it removed and the anticipated date of completion. If you need assistance with providing the required documents and time frames to Immigration Canada, you can call the Pardons Canada free telephone support-line for assistance.

How will my criminal record affect my refugee status?
Refugees with criminal records may have their refugee status removed and be deported from Canada. A refugee’s right to apply for Permanent Residency may be removed by having a criminal conviction. At the very least, the discovery of any kind of criminal record, even where there was no finding of guilt, will result in complications to the immigration application.

If the individual’s application is part of a family application for permanent residency the discovery of the criminal record by Immigration Canada may jeopardize the application of everyone in the family. It may even result in the entire family being deported.

If I was charged but the charges were dropped, will that affect my immigration application?
If you have been accused and charged with a crime and you were fingerprinted in Canada, or you attended at a Canadian criminal court, you do have a criminal record. Even if you were found not guilty, once you have been accused and charged with a criminal offence, a record does exist, and you must complete paperwork to have your record destroyed or sealed. It will not go away by itself. A criminal record will negatively affect your immigration application.

I have a Minister’s Permit (or Work Authorization). Will it be taken away because of my criminal record?
People who were granted a Minister’s Permit or Work Authorization before they were charged with a criminal offence may have their status removed and be deported from Canada.

Can I lose my immigration status because of my criminal record?
Yes. You can lose your status because of having a criminal record. Although uncommon, you could even lose your citizenship due to a criminal record.

Is it legal for me to visit Canada if I have a criminal record from another country?
It is illegal to visit Canada if you have a criminal record unless you have acquired special permission from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. If you have a Canadian criminal record from when you were previously in Canada, it is best to have it Pardoned/Suspended or destroyed before attempting to re-enter. If you have dual citizenship there is no issue with re-entering Canada.

Can I be deported because of my criminal record?
Yes. If you are not a Canadian citizen, you can be removed from Canada for having a criminal record.

Permanent residents may be deported if they are convicted of a serious offence in Canada. It is important to apply for your Pardon/Record Suspension as soon as possible. It is also advisable to contact an immigration lawyer to discuss how the charge will affect your status as a permanent resident.

I am being deported. How can you help me?
Even if removal or deportation proceedings are brought against you because of a criminal record, it is a good idea to start the process of having your record removed. By doing this you can show Immigration Canada that you are no longer involved in any criminal activities, and that you qualify to have your criminal record removed. Furthermore, you can give them an approximate date as to when your record will be sealed or destroyed.

After receiving correspondence from Pardons Canada (confirming that the pardon is in process and will be successfully completed), Immigration Canada will usually remove the deportation order and allow the applicant to stay in Canada.

If I was deported, and I have a criminal record, can I come back to Canada?
Yes. People who have been deported can apply to come back to Canada with written permission from the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. It is always best to receive a Pardon/Record Suspension first then you can be sponsored by a family member to come back to Canada.