Sometimes, Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Canada underestimate the importance of their criminal record being formally removed from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. For example, if a permanent resident did not obtain a pardon for a past criminal conviction (now called “record of suspension”), they could lose their rights for Canadian citizenship or even be deported from Canada for inadmissibility because of having a criminal record.
My firm had a case of a client who immigrated to Canada at the age of 4, lived here for 40 years, and never applied for a citizenship. Throughout the years, he committed various criminal offences, was charged and convicted for some of them and eventually had his permanent resident status taken away. He would have been deported from Canada despite his lengthy residence, had we not appealed his case. That client simply overlooked his situation and was under the impression that he would never be deported from Canada. In another example, a Canadian citizen wanted to visit his friends and family in the USA and realized at the border that he had a criminal record for a conviction that was imposed many years ago. Had he obtained a waiver, he would have been allowed to cross the border.
Who is responsible for processing and granting pardons and waivers? The Parole Board of Canada, an official federal agency handles applications for pardons (records of suspension) and waivers and it is governed by the Criminal Records Act (CRA).
The application process is not complicated and you can apply for a record suspension yourself at the Parole Board of Canada however we recommend you hire a legal representative to make sure your application is properly drafted and submitted. The Parole Board of Canada will not provide you with legal advice.
To apply for a record suspension the applicant must have been convicted of an offence as an adult in Canada under a federal act or regulation, or in another country and transferred to Canada. Please note that, if you have been convicted in another country, remained in that country and are applying now for a temporary or permanent residence in Canada, you don’t need to apply for a Canadian pardon. The Canada Immigration will consider how many years have passed since you completed your sentence when granting your application for a status in Canada. Please also note that some convictions cannot be a subject to a granting of record of suspension: sexual offence relating to a child and committing three offences prosecuted by indictment and resulted in imprisonment of two or more years for each offence.
Completion of sentence: you paid all fines ordered by court, served all sentences of imprisonment, conditional sentence order and/or completed your probation order. In other words, your calculation of time for being eligible for a pardon starts NOT from your last day in court when the judge pronounced your sentence, but from completion of all conditions entailed with the sentence.
If you received an absolute discharge, you don’t need to apply for a pardon because your record will be automatically removed from the system in one year after a court order. In conditional discharges cases, the record will be removed in three years.
How many years have to pass after completion of sentence to make you eligible for a record suspension application?
- 5 years for a summary offence (or a service offence under the National Defence Act);
- 10 years for an indictable offence (or a service offence under the National Defence Act for which you were fined more than $5,000, detained or imprisoned for more than 12 months).