Will a criminal record affect my immigration status?

Having a criminal record can affect your immigration status negatively and may prevent you from staying in Canada. You could be considered “criminally inadmissible.”

This includes the conviction of minor to serious crimes, such as:

  • Theft
  • Assault
  • Manslaughter
  • Dangerous driving
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Possession of or trafficking drugs or controlled substances

Depending on the crime, how long ago it was and your conduct since, you may still be allowed to come to Canada, if you:

Can I enter or stay in Canada if I received a pardon for my crime?

It depends. If you received a Canadian record suspension (formerly known as a “pardon”) you are no longer inadmissible and can likely stay in Canada.

A “non-conviction record” is a record of dismissed, discharged or withdrawn criminal charges. Even if you were never charged, having a non-conviction record can still affect your immigration application.

Obtaining a record suspension, can prevent a non-conviction record from interfering with your immigration status.

If you've already obtained immigration status you can have your status revoked due to the presence of a non-conviction record. Having a non-conviction record can also prevent you from applying for citizenship. 

In some cases if you received citizenship you may have your citizenship revoked because of a criminal record, although this is rare and even less likely with dismissed or dropped charges.

Can I prevent a non-conviction record from affecting my immigration status?

To prevent a non-conviction record from negatively affecting your immigration application, you must apply for a pardon or record suspension.

A record suspension does not eliminate your criminal record, but it can separate your dropped, discharged or dismissed charges from your publicly visible record.

Steps to applying for a record suspension:

  1. Find out if you qualify to apply for a pardon.
  2. If you are eligible, you may apply for a record suspension.
  3. Once you’ve applied for a record suspension, notify Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as soon as possible.
  4. If you are granted a pardon, make sure to contact IRCC to let them know.

Any criminal charges against you can negatively affect your Canadian immigration status, even if the charges were dropped or dismissed. A non-conviction record can:

  • Prevent you from or make you lose your immigration status.
  • Prevent you from applying for Canadian citizenship.
  • Get you deported from the country.

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Last updated: December 12, 2023 4006313