A guide to police clearances for Canadian immigration and options for overcoming criminal inadmissibility.
Police certificates demonstrate to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that an immigration applicant is admissible to Canada.
Each applicant for permanent residence and their family members aged 18 or over, must undergo a security clearance to prove they are not criminally inadmissible.
Police Clearance Certificates, also called certificates of non-criminal activity, must be obtained from the country of current residence and from each country in which the applicant has resided for more than six months since their 18th birthday.
Police Clearance Certificates can usually be obtained through law enforcement offices or other government agencies. In extenuating circumstances, Canadian Immigration Visa Offices will waive the requirement to submit Police Clearance Certificates.
For the country the individual currently lives in, the police certificate must be issued no more than six months before applying.
For countries where the individual has lived for six months or more, the police certificate must be issued after the last time the applicant lived in that country.
If a certificate is in a language other than English or French, it must be sent along with the original copy of a translation done by a certified translator.
All applicants for Canadian immigration must also undergo a background clearance, which checks for activities related to espionage, subversion, or terrorism. This is to ensure that the safety and order of Canadian society are maintained and protected. Such security screening decisions are made based on information from every available source, which is then carefully weighed to determine whether an applicant is likely to threaten the internal security of Canada. When there is an indication of security concerns, an interview will be scheduled to discuss these findings with the applicant. Anyone who is determined to pose such a threat will be prevented from entering Canada.
There is a clear distinction between the Police Clearance Certificate, which the applicant is required to obtain, and the background clearance, in which the applicant for the most part is not actively involved.
Individuals wishing to enter Canada, either permanently or temporarily as visitors, foreign workers or international students, may be denied entry if they or their dependents are deemed criminally inadmissible.
If you are criminally inadmissible, you may be allowed to enter Canada if IRCC considers you criminally rehabilitated under either:
- Deemed Rehabilitation
- Individual Rehabilitation
If you are coming to Canada temporarily, you may require a Temporary Residence Permit (TRP) to enter the country.
In all of these cases, an experienced immigration lawyer can assist you with overcoming criminal inadmissibility. Lawyers can also support your case with a Legal Opinion Letter.