So this topic makes my job rather interesting… Just when I thought it was hard enough to ask my clients their weight when booking their helicopter tour in Hawaii…now this!
I welcome any ideas on how to gently ask if a client has a criminal history.
Here’s the low-down for traveling to Canada:
If you have been convicted of a DWI or DUI (Driving While Impaired or Driving Under the Influence) or other criminal convictions, such as reckless driving, negligent driving, misdemeanor drug possession, all felonies, domestic violence, shoplifting, theft, etc… Any of these can make a person inadmissible to Canada, if they occurred within the last five (5) to ten (10) years.
Upon entry into Canada, routine screenings include the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” If you have been convicted of impaired driving – even if no collision was involved – you may be denied entrance. Even with no other criminal violations. Think carefully. Don’t lie about any convictions, regardless of how ‘trivial’.
Lying/forgetting about a conviction could get you barred from entry into Canada for many years. Increased cooperation between Canada and U.S., as part of post-911 security measures, means that the border agent could already have access to criminal records. While it is possible for a Canadian immigration officer or border patrol officer at a port of entry to allow a person with a criminal record into Canada, this cannot be guaranteed!!!
A person with a conviction may be deemed rehabilitated and be eligible for entry after a certain period has expired from the completion of the sentence imposed (which would include any driving suspension) on the conviction. Depending on the offence, this period may be as short as 5 years or as long as 10 years. If a person cannot qualify for deemed rehabilitation, they may apply for individual criminal rehabilitation.
There are several ways individuals can overcome criminal inadmissibility. These include:
- Deemed rehabilitation at a Canadian port of entry;
- Streamlined rehabilitation at a Canadian port of entry; and
- Approval of rehabilitation through a Canadian Consulate in the United States.
1. Deemed Rehabilitated:
Persons are eligible to apply for deemed rehabilitation at a port of entry if the following are true:
- There was only one conviction in total;
- At least ten years have elapsed since all of the sentences for the conviction were completed (payment of all fees, jail time completed, restitution paid, etc);
- The conviction would not be considered serious criminality in Canada (most felony convictions in the United States are equivalent to serious criminality in Canada); and
- The conviction did not involve any serious property damage, physical harm to any person, or any type of weapon.
2. Streamlined Rehabilitation:
Persons are eligible to apply for streamlined rehabilitation at a port of entry if the following are true:
- There were two or less convictions in total;
- At least five years have elapsed since all of the sentences for the conviction(s) were completed (payment of all fees, jail time completed, restitution paid, etc);
- The convictions would not be considered serious criminality in Canada (most felony convictions in the United States are equivalent to serious criminality in Canada); and
- The convictions did not involve any serious property damage, physical harm to any person, or any type of weapon.
3. Deemed & Streamlined Rehabilitation Applications:
Deemed rehabilitation and streamlined rehabilitation applications are processed at Canadian ports of entry. Submitting an application for rehabilitation does not guarantee that the request will be approved. The following documents should brought with you:
- A United States passport or birth certificate (with photo identification);
- A copy of court documents for each conviction, and proof that all sentences were completed;
- A recent FBI identification record;
- Recent police certificates from the state where the conviction(s) occurred, and from any state where a person has lived for six (6) months or longer in the last 10 years; and
- A fee is involved for the streamlined rehabilitation process, equivalent to $200.00 Canadian. There is no fee for deemed rehabilitation.
4. Approval of Rehabilitation:
If more than 5 years have elapsed since all sentences related to the conviction(s) were completed, but a person is not eligible for rehabilitation at a port of entry (because of the nature or number of convictions), a person may apply for approval of rehabilitation through a Canadian Consulate in the United States. The same documents required for port of entry rehabilitation identified above are also required for rehabilitation through a Canadian Consulate, plus a completed Application for Criminal Rehabilitation (Citizenship & Immigration Canada Form IMM 1444.
Bottomline – let’s work together to make sure your have the best vacation ever, even if you have made a boo boo in the past!
(This blogger is not licensed to practice law. You are urged to undertake your own investigation, and contact the Canadian Consulate.)