If a permanent resident (not a Canadian citizen!) commits a criminal offence, they jeopardize their immigration status and can be removed from Canada upon the stripping of their status.
Immigration law is clear on what types of criminal offences bar a permanent resident (PR) from their status.
If a PR is charged with a criminal offence, the outcome of their cases could be different: the case could be withdrawn, or the offender is granted a conditional or absolute discharge. In the latter, immigration officials will not initiate an admissibility hearing and will not remove the violator from Canada. However, if a court convicts the accused, the story is different.
Sometimes, the case is resolved on a “peace bond”. When the prosecution offers the accused a peace bond, it means that the criminal charges will withdraw. A peace bond stipulates an imposition of conditions to “keep peace and be of good behavior” and usually these conditions are imposed for 6 months or a year, after which, the accused is cleared. Peace bond resolution does not give the accused a criminal conviction; neither does an absolute or conditional discharge. The difference though between a peace bond and an absolute/conditional discharge is that when the accused enters a peace bond, they do not enter a guilty plea, whereas for an absolute or conditional discharge there must be an admission of guilt.
If the accused was charged with a criminal offence under the section in Criminal Code of Canada which can be prosecuted summarily (lighter offences) or by indictment (more serious offences), immigration law sees no difference between a charge which was prosecuted by summary way or by indictment,- the section will be construed as an indictable offence. Of course, if the case was eventually withdrawn, resolved on peace bond, or the accused was granted an absolute or conditional discharge, the incident would not impact their immigration status.
Interestingly, if for example, a foreign national, lets say a visitor or a student in Canada, commits a criminal offence in their country, prior to coming to Canada, they might be found inadmissible class in Canada, despite the fact that they could not actually be convicted. I had a case of a serious criminal offence allegedly committed by one of my clients in Russia. Upon her arrival to Canada, she did not know that the prosecution initiated a criminal case against her and that Interpol issued a warrant for her arrest. She was arrested at Pearson airport and an admissibility hearing was conducted. The adjudicator ruled that she was inadmissible class in Canada based on the provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), S. 36(2) (c):
- 36 (2) A foreign national is inadmissible on ground of criminality
(c) for committing an act outside Canada that is an offence in the place where it was committed and that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable offence under an Act of Parliament.
I was an inexperienced counsel at the time and tried to argue that it was not ruled in the foreign criminal court that my client had been proven guilty; however, the adjudicator decided the case otherwise because the standard of proof in the inadmissibility provisions of the IRPA is reasonable grounds to believe. In examining the case, the adjudicator was satisfied that reasonable grounds exist just by virtue of having disclosure from the foreign prosecutor’s office with a list of evidence against my client.