Move to Canada with a Criminal Record

Move to Canada with a Criminal Record

Attempting to move to Australia with a Criminal Record has lots of challenges. Criminal inadmissibility to Canada is when a person has committed an offense of some sort. It can be a minor offense or it can be a serious one, but by committing that offense, they make themselves inadmissible to Canada. 

How it is treated will depend on the seriousness of the offense according to Canadian law, how much time has passed since you finished serving any penalty and paying and fines associated with the offense, and how many offenses you have had.

Criminal inadmissibility applies to all Canada Immigration programs. to Canada no matter which program you apply for.

Is there any chance of immigrating to Canada with a Criminal history?


It is possible to move to Canada with a Criminal background in the following circumstances:


  • you get an acquittal
  • resolve the matter
  • be deemed rehabilitated by Canada if the offense was minor
  • you only have one offense and time has passed
  • seek rehabilitated status from the Canadian Court


It is important to sort everything out about your Criminal Inadmissibility before you lodge your documents for Permanent Residency.


What is rehabilitation in terms of Canadian immigration?


Rehabilitation affects criminal inadmissibility to Canada. If someone can be deemed rehabilitated from the offense they committed, or if they can have their record suspended, or get confirmation from the Canadian court, then they can enter Canada.


Deemed rehabilitation


If you have committed an offense in the past, your goal is to be considered rehabilitated by Canada for Immigration purposes.

So, what does “deemed rehabilitated” mean and how do you become “deemed” rehabilitated and Immigrate to Canada with a Criminal Record?

You must first understand the nature of the offense you committed, its equivalent offense in Canada, and the rules around which types of offenses can be deemed rehabilitated and under what conditions.


Was the offense committed inside Canada?


If the conviction is inside Canada, then rehabilitation is not an option. You need to go through the court system in Canada, and either receive an acquittal or a record suspension acquittal.

Alternatively, if the Court believes the conviction was correctly determined, they can also agree to remove your name from the criminal records of RCMP. If you receive an acquittal or a record suspension then you can move to Canada.

Therefore, for convictions inside Canada, the only direction would be acquittal or record suspension. If you can not obtain either of these then you remain Criminally Inadmissible to Canada.


The offense was committed outside Canada


If your offense was committed outside Canada, you first need to confirm if you have been convicted yet.

If you have not received the conviction yet, but you are charged by a prosecutor outside Canada, you should try to resolve that issue through the foreign court first.

Canada can’t make you inadmissible if it does not know if you are going to be convicted. Do everything possible to avoid a conviction. If no conviction is recorded then make sure your record is clear. If you end up with a conviction in Canada, then you will need to obtain rehabilitation to become admissible.

If you have already been convicted of an offense outside Canada you must determine whether the offense is a summary conviction (misdemeanor) or an Indictable (serious) Crime.

If your offense has occurred outside Canada, then you need to find the equivalent in the Canadian criminal code or other acts of the parliament. What might be a minor offense in some Countries might be a major offense in Canada. The only thing that matters is what Canada considers this crime as.

Summary convictions are less severe than indictable convictions which means the term of imprisonment is usually less than six months. Once you have determined your offense is summary in nature (not serious), the next question to ask is:

Is this my only conviction?

If you have received only one summary conviction in your life and no indictments, then you are deemed rehabilitated and admissible to move to Canada.

In the event you have received two summary convictions in your life, then you need at least five years to have passed since the time that you completed your sentence and finished paying the fines. If five years has not passed, you are not deemed rehabilitated.


Convicted of an Indictable crime outside of Canada


You only are deemed rehabilitated if at least 10 years have passed since the day that you completed all the sentences and paid all the fines related to your conviction.

This is only possible when you have only one indictable conviction in all your life, and that indictable conviction does not carry a maximum term of imprisonment more than 10 years.

If you have an indictable conviction where the maximum term of imprisonment is more than 10 years, or if you have multiple indictable convictions then you will never become deemed rehabilitated.


How to get officially deemed rehabilitated


You must submit enough documentation to convince the immigration officer that you qualify for deemed rehabilitation.

The documents you need are:

  • proof of your conviction 
  • proof of when you completed any sentence
  • a full background record check
  • details of the offense
  • evidence in the case
  • police reports


Criminality vs Serious Criminality for Immigration to Canada


General Criminality is where the penalty is below 10 years maximum in prison, and Serious Criminality is where the maximum penalty can be over 10 years prison.


What is a Hybrid Offense in Canada?


Hybrid Offenses are ones where they allow the justice system, to prosecute a person for a Summary offense by way of Indictment.

This is for first-time offenders to be treated less severely than somebody who is a repeat offender.

However, if you have committed an offense that is regarded as a Hybrid Offense in Canada it will always be considered an indictable offense. It does not matter if you were a first-time offender.

Canada will assess your offense in terms of how the offense would be classified as if it was committed inside of Canada. This is called “equivalency”. It does not matter how the other country dealt with the matter, it only matters as to what would Canada have done if you had committed the same offense inside Canada.


The country where I committed the offense only saw what I did as a misdemeanor


If the equivalency is an indictable offense in Canada, then it is considered a criminal offense by Canadian Immigration.


Mistakes on background checks


Sometimes there are mistakes on background checks for Canada Visa applications. If you notice a mistake you need to have it removed before submitting your Visa application.

Do not submit a Police Background Check to Canadian Immigration if it contains an error. Canada will not accept that it is a “mistake” by the issuing Country.

Moving to Canada with a DUI


The offense of impaired driving is considered a serious crime under the immigration and refugee protection act. The criminal code makes the maximum sentence 10 years or more. This means that DUIs are considered serious criminality under the Immigration Act.

This means if you have an impaired driving offense from a different country, Canada will consider the offense the way Canada sees it, and it will render you inadmissible to Canada.


What if it is just one family member on my application who is Criminally inadmissible to Canada?


Having one family member Criminally Inadmissible will mean the whole application to Immigrate to Canada will be rejected. You must make sure the person on your application with Criminality issues can be deemed rehabilitated.

Don’t submit your express entry if you have an applicant in the group who does not qualify for rehabilitation, or who you can’t get an acquittal for. You must all meet the criteria to be admissible to Canada.


Migration Consultant at Migration Consultant LLC | Website | + posts

Alexander King is a leading authority in the field of migration, holding a prominent role as a Head of Compliance at Migration Consultant LLC ( With years of expertise under his belt, King has guided countless individuals and families on their journey to immigrating to Australia and Canada, shaping countless lives with his professional advice and in-depth knowledge of immigration law and procedures.

His profound understanding of the complexities of immigration coupled with his unparalleled skills in tackling these challenges has earned him a reputation as a trusted expert in his field. This expertise is shared in his groundbreaking book, "How to Immigrate to Canada," a comprehensive guide designed to streamline the process for those aspiring to call Canada their new home.

King's dedicated, compassionate approach to helping others stems from his own experiences. Born and raised in a multicultural community, he grew up witnessing the struggles and triumphs of people striving to start new lives in new countries. This drove his passion for guiding others through their immigration journey, a passion that he pours into his work and writing.

Authoring "How to Immigrate to Canada" has been an endeavor close to his heart. King hopes that through his words, he can demystify the often daunting process of immigration, making it accessible and achievable for everyone.