Upcoming Criminal Code Changes + Its Effects on Entering Canada
On December 18, 2018, Canada will begin imposing tough new penalties on those who drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including cannabis, or commit cannabis-related crimes.
The maximum penalty for impaired driving offences will increase from 5 years to 10 years. Impaired driving offences committed after this date will be considered “serious criminality”. In accordance with Canada’s immigration legislation, a conviction could prevent foreign nationals from entering Canada and lead to the loss of permanent residence, regardless of where the offense occurred.
This particularly affects our neighbours to the south; a U.S. Citizen with an impaired driving conviction will be deemed inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality. There are ways to temporarily overcome this inadmissibility, however it means that every time the individual wishes to enter Canada, they will need to prepare an application and apply for a Temporary Resident Permit prior to entering Canada. This application can be made at a port of entry (Canadian land border or airport customs) upon arrival in Canada, or prior to travel by submitting an application to the Canadian Visa Office in Los Angeles, California. Current processing times range between 6-12 months for Visa Office applications and multiple-entry Temporary Resident Permits are available but it is at the discretion of the immigration officer, so trips should be planned well in advance.
Currently, a foreign national with a foreign impaired driving conviction is eligible for deemed rehabilitation at a port of entry to permanently overcome this inadmissibility, if ten years has passed since the completion of their sentence. For an impaired driving conviction after December 18, 2018 deemed rehabilitation will not be possible and an applicant will have to make a fulsome application for rehabilitation in accordance with the legislation.
Those who have received approval to overcome a criminal inadmissibility at the port of entry prior to December 18, 2018, will not be affected by these changes. Therefore it is recommended that if you are able to make such an application, you do so prior to the changes coming into effect.
Contact Field Law’s Immigration Team if you require assistance with applications for rehabilitation, record suspension (formerly called a pardon), or appealing decisions regarding loss of permanent residence or temporary residence in Canada.