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How you can remove a Canadian criminal record

If you are a refugee, an immigrant or a permanent resident and you have committed a crime in Canada and now have a criminal record, you may face trouble trouble if you try to apply for immigration status, permanent resident status or citizenship.

In fact, you may be deemed inadmissible to stay in Canada. Criminally inadmissibility is not just issued for major crimes but can also certain minor crimes.

Crimes, major and minor can include, but are not limited to:

However, all may not be lost. If you have a criminal record, you can apply for record suspension, if you qualify.

Record suspension or discharge

A record suspension allows the criminal record to be sealed when a record suspension is granted. It allows people who were sentenced for a criminal offence to show that they have been law-abiding for a number of years after completing their sentence and therefore are eligible for a record suspension.

If you have been convicted of a crime in Canada, you have to apply for a record suspension to the Parole Board of Canada. Without getting a record suspension it’s very likely you will not be considered admissible to remain in Canada.

In order to be considered for a record suspension under the Criminal Records Act, a specified period of time must pass after the end of the sentence imposed. The sentence may have been payment of a fine, period of probation, or imprisonment.

When can I apply for a record suspension?

Before you apply for a record suspension, you must have completed all of your sentences, which includes:

  • All fines, surcharges, costs, restitution and compensation orders;
  • All sentences of imprisonment, conditional sentences, including parole and statutory release;
  • Any probation order(s).

If you have had two or more summary convictions in Canada, you may no longer be inadmissible if:

  • At least five years have passed since all sentences imposed were served or to be served;
  • You have had no other convictions.

However, though a person has to wait five years before being eligible to apply for a lesser, or summary, offence for a more serious offence the waiting period is longer. If the offence was a serious, meaning indictable offence for which you were fined over $5,000 and/or detained for more than six months in prison, then your wait period increases to ten years.

How much does a record suspension application cost?

As of 2015, the cost of a record suspension was $631 to process a record suspension. However, there may also be other fees you may incur during the process.

Are there crimes for which I cannot apply for a record suspension?

If you have been convicted of the following crimes, you are ineligible to apply for record suspension:

  • A Schedule 1 Offence (sexual offence involving a child) under the Criminal Records Act;
  • More than three offences prosecuted by indictment each with a prison sentence of two years or more.

It is important to speak to a criminal lawyer and immigration lawyer as soon as possible if you have a criminal record and have not yet applied (or are ineligible) for a record suspension or discharge, because it can very seriously affect your immigration status in Canada.

Read more:

Record Suspensions and Purges

Overcome criminal convictions