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Criminal Inadmissibility and Assault Convictions

Many travellers or potential immigrants to Canada may not realize that a prior assault conviction on their criminal record may render them criminally inadmissible to Canada. The following will explain how different assault convictions correspond to Canadian law. You will learn how these convictions can affect your plans to enter Canada, and what you can do to overcome them.

Firstly, if you are a non-Canadian with a prior conviction on your criminal record, you are inadmissible to Canada if your crime is equivalent to an indictable offense under Canadian law. This holds true regardless of whether your country of residence classifies the conviction as a felony or a misdemeanour, or other. You may be deemed criminally inadmissible for such offences as assault, manslaughter, theft, drug possession or trafficking, dangerous driving, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). You may read about criminal inadmissibility due to a DUI here.

Assault convictions entail certain considerations under Canadian law depending on the nature of the offence, and the time elapsed since completing your sentence.

How does Canadian law classify assault?

Canadian law classifies assault as a hybrid offence, which means that it can be prosecuted as 1) a summary conviction or 2) an indictable offence.

When it comes to criminal admissibility, Canadian law regards all hybrid offenses as indictable offenses. Therefore, foreign nationals with an assault conviction on their record are always deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada. However, they can overcome their criminal admissibility in a number of ways.

What can you do if you are criminally inadmissible?

If you have a prior assault conviction, you have two main options:

1) You can permanently overcome your criminal inadmissibility through a finding of Criminal Rehabilitation.

2) You can temporarily override it with a Temporary Resident Permit.

In certain other cases, however, an individual with a prior assault conviction may already be Deemed Rehabilitated.

Criminal Rehabilitation vs. Deemed Rehabilitation

To be rehabilitated means that you have met certain legal terms following your conviction and sentencing, and the government finds you unlikely to commit further crimes. A finding of Criminal Rehabilitation differs from one of Deemed Rehabilitation. To be eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation, you must have completed the entire sentence for your assault charge at least five years ago. If your record includes multiple assault convictions, or if the charge is for a serious offence such as those involving a weapon or causing bodily injury, then you will need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation to enter Canada, as you cannot be deemed rehabilitated.

However, you may be deemed rehabilitated if your situation meets all of the following criteria:

  • Your conviction is for only a single assault charge.
  • Your conviction is for a non-serious offense, such as a case of simple assault.
  • A period of 10 years has passed since the completion of the entire sentence imposed for your conviction, including fines and probationary periods.

If all three of these conditions apply, then your case may be eligible for a finding of Deemed Rehabilitation, which means you are now admissible to Canada, and need not apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. If you have been deemed rehabilitated and are entering the country, we strongly recommend that you confirm your admissibility at the border by presenting a legal opinion letter to the immigration officials.

Temporary Resident Permit

If your prior assault conviction is eligible for neither Deemed Rehabilitation nor Criminal Rehabilitation, you may enter Canada by obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). The Canadian government may grant a TRP to admit otherwise inadmissible foreign nationals into the country for a specific purpose. Your TRP application must properly detail the specific purpose of your visit. A valid purpose is usually related to work or family, but an emergency situation may also qualify.

You may obtain a Temporary Resident Permit if fewer than five years have elapsed since completing your sentence. You may also apply for a TRP if your application for Criminal Rehabilitation has not yet been filed, or is awaiting a positive response. Temporary foreign workers, international students, or visitors may obtain a TRP to enter Canada. However, you may not obtain a TRP if you wish to apply for permanent residency. If you are a criminally inadmissible individual who has obtained a Temporary Resident Permit, then you will require the TRP until the government finds you criminally rehabilitated.

If you have any further questions about criminal inadmissibility due to assault convictions or other past offenses on your record, please contact us to consult with a qualified Canadian immigration lawyer.