On Thursday, Canada passed Bill C-46 which will increase the maximum term of imprisonment for driving while impaired from the current no more than five years, to no more than ten years. Starting from December 18, 2018, impaired driving will now be categorized as a “serious criminality”, which affects the scope of inadmissibility under Canadian Immigration Law. Currently, a foreign national with a single impaired driving conviction in Canada or abroad is inadmissible to Canada for “regular” criminality. Regular criminality can be overcome in short term by applying for a Temporary Resident Permit or in the long term by applying for criminal rehabilitation. Foreign nationals will also be deemed rehabilitated after 10 years have passed since the completion of the sentencing.
With this change, temporary residents will no longer be automatically considered as rehabilitated after 10 years of completing the sentence. The foreign national will only have the option of applying for criminal rehabilitation.
Permanent residents, if found to be guilty of impaired driving, will make the permanent resident inadmissible and may result in a loss of PR status. If the person is sentenced to a term of imprisonment of six months for more, the right to appeal the loss of status is gone and a permanent resident can be removed from Canada.
Foreign nationals who have pending applicants for permanent residence who have been convicted of impaired driving may now be considered inadmissible to Canada. This inadmissibility of the main applicant will also affect the dependents. This may be cured by filing with an approved application for criminal rehabilitation.
There could also be retroactive application to temporary or permanent residents who have committed this crime and who have previously been deemed rehabilitated because of the passage of time. They may now become inadmissible. The Canadian government has yet to release program directives regarding the application of Bill C-46 and impact on foreign nationals and permanent residents in Canada who were previously deemed rehabilitated.
It is also unclear at this time whether the current policy of immigration officers allowing U.S. nationals with one driving under the influence offense to be admitted to Canada with a temporary resident permit will continue. Foreign nationals who have a conviction for impaired driving, or related matter, who wish to enter Canada should consider applying for permanent criminal rehabilitation and consult their legal advisors. For information about DUI and inadmissibility in the United States, please click here.
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