Dear Miss Powell, Twelve years ago, I was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. I pleaded guilty and paid a fine. I did not go to prison. Someone told me Canada considers this a criminal offence. My mother is living in Canada and is about to file for me. I am worried that when I apply my criminal record will show up and I would be considered ineligible. Is there a way to deal with this issue, so that I am not prevented from moving to Canada?
Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is a criminal offence. Although you did not go to prison, you may have had a suspended sentence, and this will show up on your criminal record. You will be deemed criminally inadmissible by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Nevertheless, do not be discouraged, if you have changed and have not committed any other crimes in Jamaica or elsewhere, you may take the necessary steps to prove you have been rehabilitated. The main concern to CIC is that you have not committed any other crimes in Jamaica, or in any other country since pleading guilty, and that you are not likely to do so in the future.
When an individual is deemed criminally inadmissible, they can seek to be considered admissible by CIC. There are three main ways:
1. Satisfy an officer at CIC or Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) that you have met the requirements to be deemed rehabilitated
2. Apply for rehabilitation
3. Apply for pardon
In your particular case, based on the facts you have presented, you may simply present your case to the CIC officer. However, it would be in your best interest to apply for rehabilitation and prove your case before proceeding to avoid any delays to your application for permanent residency. You have a strong case as you pleaded guilty, you were not imprisoned and more than 10 years have passed since you were convicted.
Now, J.K., the next step is to demonstrate that you have had a stable lifestyle. This means that you will need to show that you have a steady job, participate in community activities and provide letters of reference from people who can attest to your good behaviour.
Applications for rehabilitation usually take more than a year to process. You will be required to pay a non-refundable fee of CA$200 to CIC, which is based on the crime, and submit all the relevant documentation. The documents that you will need to submit include court orders, applicable law and copies of other court documents. Due to the nature of this application, you do not want to make any errors or submit incomplete applications. Therefore I would recommend you use a representative such as a lawyer or certified immigration consultant to assist you with your application.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with main office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, personal injury, family and administration of estates. She is on the roster of mediators for Ottawa, Toronto and the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Immigration