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Tag Archives: Immigration

February 1, 2023

What is my criminal record?

For immigration purposes, your criminal record is a list of all your contact(s) with the criminal justice system. This means even if you are not convicted, it was expunged, or if it took place outside of Canada, it is still relevant to immigration.

Did you know that your criminal record may prevent you from entering the United States (US)? At Quadro Law we know that crossing the border can be stressful, but it does not have to be.

Now at this point, you may be wondering:

  • What is a criminal record?
  • Should I be concerned?
  • How far back does it go?
  • What about summary, expunged, or cannabis offences?

Let’s take a look at each of these below.

What is my criminal record?

For immigration purposes, your criminal record is a list of all your contact(s) with the criminal justice system. This means even if you are not convicted, it was expunged, or if it took place outside of Canada, it is still relevant to immigration.

What can the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officers access?

CBP has had access to both the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) and the Canadian Police information Centre (CPIC) since 2010. APIS contains most information found on your passport, and CPIC is the criminal database maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Keep this in mind when crossing a Port of Entry (POE).

Will any crime make me inadmissible?

No, not all crimes are equally weighted under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for immigration purposes. Instead, under the INA the principal concern is Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMTs) and any controlled substance violations (see INA Sect. 212(a)(2)). And while there are many CIMTs, each generally involves either an element of fraud, violence, or property damage.

For example, here are some CIMTs:

  • Crimes Involving Fraud/Dishonesty
    • Bribery, Counterfeiting, Embezzlement, Forgery, Fraud, Gross Indecency, Perjury, and Tax Evasion.
  • Crimes Involving Violence/Criminal Activity
    • Arson, Assault with Intent to Kill/Rape/Robber, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Blackmail, Burglary, Extortion, Kidnapping, Manslaughter, Mayhem, Murder, Prostitution, Rape, and Robbery.
  • Crimes Involving Property Damage
    • Larceny (Grand or Petty), Mail Fraud, Malicious Destruction of Property, Knowingly Receiving Stolen Goods, Theft, and Transporting Stolen Property.

 

Please note, these are not usually considered CIMTs:

  • Breach of the Peace, Breaking and Entering (without Intent of CMT), Carrying a Concealed Weapon, Damaging Private Property (without Intent to Damage), Disorderly Conduct, Driving while License Suspended/Revoked, DUI/Reckless Driving, Escape from Prison, False Statements (not Perjury/involving Fraud), Firearm Violations, Gambling Violations, Immigration Violations, Juvenile Delinquency, Minor Traffic Violations, Possessing Stolen Property (without Guilty Knowledge), Smuggling (without Intent to Commit Fraud), Tax Evasion (without Intent), and Trespassing.

Will a DUI make me inadmissible?

A single DUI or summary offence is unlikely to deny you entry to the US. However, you may be denied entry if you have multiple summary offences, DUIs, or a DUI and a summary offence.

Do I need to worry about cannabis?

Possibly. Before October 2018, Canadians who admitted to consuming, investing in, or being involved in the cannabis industry were often denied entry. This is mainly because cannabis is a schedule one controlled substance under US federal law, which controls all POEs and border crossings. After October 2018, CBP announced it will shift its focus from all cannabis involvement to those specifically travelling to the US for cannabis-related reasons. We advise all people to exercise caution and to carefully weigh this policy change. Cannabis policy remains a changing area of law and is further complicated by the growing number of states that continue to legalize recreational and medical cannabis.

For reference, as of February 2023, cannabis has been legalized in AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MT, NJ, NM, NY, NV, OR, RI, VA, VT, and WA.

If I have a criminal record, what are my options to visit the US?

For most cases of criminal inadmissibility as a nonimmigrant, you will need an INA Sect. 212(d)(3) waiver, or “Hranka Waiver.” First, you will need to show you qualify for the underlying nonimmigrant visa you seek. Fortunately, for most Canadians this is a non-issue due to the Visa Waiver program. However, if you are either non-Canadian, or seek temporary entry that requires a nonimmigrant visa, like for work or study, you will have to show you qualify for that visa before being granted a waiver. Next, your waiver request is prepared for filing. You can file at either the US Consulate or the POE/US-Canada border.

In addition to the $585 (USD) filing fee, the request should include:

  • Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant (form I-192),
  • Documents proving your citizenship,
  • Fingerprint Chart (FD-257 form) to be completed by a CBP Officer,
  • A completed G-325A (Biographic Information form),
  • An RCMP or police certificate,
  • Official police and court records,
  • A personal statement signed by you explaining the circumstances of each arrest, conviction, and sentence or fine imposed, as well as any evidence of reformation or rehabilitation, and
  • Any character references or rehabilitation documents you have.

How long does a waiver take to be issued?

There is no set number of days that your waiver must be processed by, but you can generally expect between three and six months. Your initial waiver is usually good for one year and may be good for five years upon renewal. For this reason, you should try to make your waiver request as early as possible to ensure your US travel plans are not delayed.

If you need urgent processing, you may apply for humanitarian parole. If granted, this will give you temporary permission to enter the US for humanitarian reasons during the pendency of your waiver application.

Are there any exceptions to the waiver requirement?

Yes, even though you have a CIMT, you may still be allowed entry without a waiver under the petty offence exception (see INA Sect. 212(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II)). To qualify for this waiver, you need to show:

  • The maximum penalty is no more than one year,
  • The sentence is no more than six months imprisonment,
  • It is not a controlled substance violation, and
  • It must be your first CIMT.

Need additional help?

At Quadro Law, we know that waivers for criminal inadmissibility can be complex, stressful, and difficult to navigate. But we are trained on these matters and can help you. If you need further advice or have questions regarding US immigration law, contact James Hayes today. As a dual-licensed US and Canadian lawyer, he can help you with your many immigration questions on both sides of the border.

Disclaimer:

This written article is solely for informational purposes. It is not legal advice and does not make any guarantees or conclusions. Each case is examined individually. Please contact our office for additional information and tailored legal advice.

March 17, 2022
This new program will benefit Ukrainians who wish to come to Canada now, as well as those already in Canada who wish to extend their stay. Ukrainians may also include their immediate family members of any nationality on their application.

 

 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a new temporary residence program for Ukrainians today, called the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET). This new program will benefit Ukrainians who wish to come to Canada now, as well as those already in Canada who wish to extend their stay.  Ukrainians may also include their immediate family members of any nationality on their application. IRCC defines an immediate family member as a spouse, a common-law partner, or a dependent child. The definition also includes dependent step-children, as well as the children of dependent children (grandchildren).

 

Under the CUAET, applicants outside of Canada may apply for a visitor visa and a three-year open work permit. IRCC is waiving processing fees and vaccination requirements for these applicants, and most applications will be processed within 14 days. IRCC will issue a single journey document to any applicant who does not have a passport. Applicants already in Canada may now apply to extend their status for up to three years.

 

It should be noted that the CUAET is a temporary residence program which does not, in itself, lead to permanent residence. However, IRCC has a number of permanent residence streams under which individuals may qualify, either now or after gaining Canadian work experience. If applicants wish to remain in Canada permanently, they should review their options for permanent residence soon after arriving in Canada, in order to choose the best stream and work towards an application.

 

Disclaimer:

 

No information in this blog should be construed as legal advice. Should you have any questions about Canadian immigration law, please contact the Author.

 

November 11, 2021
For immigration purposes, academic success is not about being a straight-A student but rather maintaining satisfactory progress towards the completion of the program in a timely manner.

 

 

Many international students, when faced with disappointing academic results, are concerned about the status of their study permit and the chances of its renewal.  Understandably, there are various factors that can affect a student’s academic success. Learning in times of the COVID pandemic can be difficult.  However, as an international student, you may encounter additional challenges such as adapting to cultural differences, communication barriers, isolation from family, and mental health struggles, to name a few. All these factors may likely influence your academic performance.

 

For immigration purposes, academic success is not about being a straight-A student but rather maintaining satisfactory progress towards the completion of the program in a timely manner. But what if you do not have satisfactory academic standing or you are even under academic probation or suspension? What if you have failed a course or you simply need to take a leave from studies? Does your poor academic performance affect your study permit or renewal application?

 

Keep in mind that an international student who holds a study permit is under the obligation to “actively pursue their course or program of study” at the designated learning institution (section 220.1(1)(b) of Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“Regulations”)). This means that international students should be making reasonable progress towards the completion of their studies within the timeframe of that specific program. This obligation is ongoing from the beginning of studies to the point of completion of your program as per the study permit. According to the policy guidance used by an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (the “IRCC”) staff on assessing study permit conditions, this means that an international  student must, at a minimum, be enrolled as a part-time student at their institution.

 

You also need to be aware of crucial deadlines affecting study permits. If an international student has to take an authorized leave from studies or a designated learning institution has placed a student under academic suspension, then the international student should resume studies  within 150 days from the day the leave commenced or ceased studies. Failure to comply with this requirement either means that the student has to change the status to visitor or worker, or leave Canada.

 

When applying to renew your study permit at a post-secondary designated learning institution in Canada, you need to submit, among other things, university transcripts from your last two periods of study demonstrating your academic standing at the post-secondary degree program, along with the Letter of Enrolment/Registration from your university. The purpose of submitting the university transcripts is to satisfy the IRCC officer that you are a so-called “bona fide” student (or, in other words, a genuine student) and intend to complete your program as indicated in the Letter of Enrolment/Registration.

 

Neither the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act nor its Regulations set limits on how many times you can apply to renew your study permit. However, if you keep applying to renew your study permit for the purposes of trying to complete the program and maintain status as a student, it may eventually raise questions whether you are in fact a “bona fide” student and whether you intend to leave Canada by the end of your authorized stay.

 

How to address your poor academic performance in a renewal application for a study permit?

 

Consider submitting a detailed Letter of Explanation in your renewal application explaining the circumstances that affected your poor academic performance or inability to complete the program within the timeframe. If your marks improved as time went by, consider emphasizing this in your Letter of Explanation as well as adding information on what steps you have already taken or will take to improve your academic success. Additionally, consider submitting reference letters from your instructors or other people who may be aware of your personal circumstances surrounding academic performance. This is your chance to show the IRCC officer that your intention is to complete your studies and leave Canada by the end of your authorized stay.  You should carefully prepare and include any supporting documents that help show this. If you are looking for professional advice, we’re here to help at Quadro Law.

 

Disclaimer:

 

No information in this blog should be construed as legal advice. Should you have any questions about Canadian immigration law, please contact the Author.