If you have been convicted of a charge for driving under the influence, you may be wondering how this conviction can impact your life beyond the typical penalties. Maybe you are considering moving. Maybe you are considering relocating to a different country.
Before you pack your bags and start driving toward the border, you need to know that Canada has strict guidelines about who is allowed to live and work in the country. Even minor marks on your criminal record, such as a DUI or other misdemeanor conviction, could make an applicant ineligible to immigrate to Canada.
Immigrating to Canada: The Basics
If you are deemed eligible to enter the country, you will do so in one of two ways— either temporarily or permanently. The two categories have different regulations that determine how long an individual may stay in the country.
Americans can visit Canada without a visa and stay for up to 180 days. The catch is, you cannot legally work in Canada during your visit. After those six months are up, staying longer could lead to deportation and make future visits difficult, if not impossible.
If you would like to stay in Canada beyond the allotted 180 days, you may apply for a temporary visa. Visas for temporary entry into Canada include:
- Humanitarian visa
- Student visa
- Live-in caregiver visa
- Financé visa
- Tourist visa
- Work permit
The length of time these visas allow you to legally stay in Canada vary depending on individual circumstances, but none of them allow an American to stay in Canada forever. If you want to make the land up north home for a longer period, you will need to apply for permanent residence.
Americans desiring to live and work in Canada for the long haul have other options. One option concerns familial connections and the other employment.
Family class immigration is for people with Canadian spouses or family members who are willing to sponsor them and—if need be—support them financially.
Work-related immigration classifications are based on a person’s employment intentions in Canada and include:
- Independent, professional, or skilled worker class which depends on prior or current work experience in Canada
- Business or self-employed class for people who wish to start a business in Canada
- Investor class for individuals who do not want to start a business, but have started and run a successful business outside of Canada
There are stipulations within each category that may disqualify you as an applicant for immigration into Canada.
What can keep you from living and working in Canada?
While Canadian immigration officials make the final call on whether or not an individual or a family should be admitted to the country, a person’s associations and criminal convictions, for example, will impact that decision.
Inadmissible = not allowed in Canada
When you apply for Canadian residence, immigration officials will look for certain red flags to determine your eligibility for entry into the country. The following conditions may make you inadmissible:
- You did not meet the conditions in Canada’s immigration law
- You have serious financial problems
- You have ties to organized crime
- You lied in your application or interview
- You are a security risk
- You were convicted of a crime in your country of origin
- You committed an act outside Canada that would be considered a crime inside Canada
- You committed human rights violations or international rights violations
- One of your family members is not welcome in Canada
If you fall into one of those categories and still have your heart set on moving to Canada, do not despair. You may still be able to live there, at least for a while.
Overcoming U.S. criminal convictions
Temporary resident permit (TRP) = a loophole for the inadmissible
A DUI or other criminal convictions will often make a person inadmissible as a Canadian immigrant.
However, people with relatively minor criminal histories have the option of paying a processing fee to obtain a special permit to enter Canada. This temporary resident permit, or TRP, can grant entry for one visit to Canada before paying the fee.
TRPs are usually granted to applicants who have not served jail time and/or committed other inadmissible acts.
Power of immigration officials
Even if you have a criminal record in the United States, do not give up hope on your dream to move to Canada. Canadian immigration officials may grant you entry. Whether or not they do depends on the circumstances surrounding your crime and how well you make your case.
Specifically, immigration officials want to know:
- How long ago the crime occurred
- How you behaved since
- If you can be deemed rehabilitated
- If you can prove individual rehabilitation
- If you were granted a record suspension or discharge, such as a pardon
Although Canadian immigration officials will allow you to make your case, immigration law is complicated. You may want to consult with a lawyer to give yourself the best chance of making a successful move to the north.
How can a lawyer help?
Since admission into Canada is determined on a case-by-case basis by a Canadian immigration officer, having a lawyer on your side to explain the rules—and how to work around them—is key, especially if you have a criminal record in the United States.
An experienced attorney can work with you to figure out the best approach—from paperwork to preparing for the in-person interview.
The issue of Canadian immigration has become a hot topic due to the political climate, but if your desire to move north is more than just a fad, then you should do everything in your power to stack the odds in your favor.
The team at Kulp Law is dedicated to helping people get where they want to be. Reach out to us with your questions about immigration to Canada. We’ll set you on the right path for your journey. Give us a call at 843-853-3310 or complete this form to set up a meeting.