When you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, your life changes. You cease to enjoy some of your constitutional rights fully. Finding employment, housing, government grants, and loans become a more difficult task. To eliminate the challenges faced after conviction, individuals may seek to have their records expunged.
Having a criminal record expunged could make it easier for you to live without the limitations caused by a criminal record.
However, if you wish to travel to Canada, you may be wondering about the impact your expunged record will have when you wish to enter Canada. Furthermore, you may be wondering if Canadian immigration will be able to see your expunged record.
In this article, we will explain what expungement means and why Canadian immigration will be able to see your expunged record. Apart from the Canadian government, there are a few other people who can see your expunged conviction. We will provide you with a list of people who can see your expunged records.
Afterward, the impact your expunged record can have on your entry into Canada will be stated.
Lastly, we will list the ways you can enter Canada with an expunged conviction.
What is expungement?
Expungement refers to the removal of an individual’s criminal record from public databases; This makes the record unavailable to the public. The databases the records will be removed from includes the police and court databases. However, these records are not completely deleted. Therefore, to the general public, the criminal conviction does not exist.
The individuals will not have to disclose the criminal record to prospective employers, clients or landlords.
States within the USA have different protocols for dealing with expungement.
Importantly, a sealed record is not the same thing as an ‘expunged record’. A sealed record is not destroyed and can be reopened if necessary. A court order can make the sealed criminal records public again.
Why the Canadian government can see expunged records
Some Americans who have an expunged conviction have been denied entry into Canada. This is because the US government and the Canadian government use the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database and the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. The use of both databases ensures that both countries have similar information concerning criminals trying to enter either country.
Therefore, the criminal conviction that was expunged will still be seen by the Canadian Border Services Agency.
Significantly, even after your record is expunged, other people can see it.
These people include:
– Judges and prosecutors: If you are accused of committing another crime, your expunged record could be used to assess your personality.
– Some government agencies: If you want to work in criminal justice agencies, social work or in a public school, your expunged record will be checked.
– Professional employers: If you are applying for a job that requires a license, your employer could search for expunged records.
The individuals who can see your expunged records cannot find them easily. They may need permission from the court and will need valid reasons to examine your expunged records.
Will you be able to enter Canada with an expunged record?
A simple answer is ‘maybe’.
In America, an expunged record is a chance for a former offender to live a normal life without a disadvantage. However, expungement is not the same thing as being acquitted of a crime. Therefore, if you committed a serious crime and the record was expunged, you will remain inadmissible to Canada.
Also, the Canadian government does not recognize expungement as a way of showing an individual’s rehabilitation.
If the conviction was for a misdemeanor, you may be allowed entry into Canada. Also if the crime was committed when you were a minor, Canadian immigration may acknowledge the expungement and allow you to enter the country.
Read Also: Deemed Rehabilitation in Canada
So, having a conviction expunged will not guarantee you entry into Canada.
There are a few factors that can determine if you will be allowed into Canada with an expunged record. These factors are:
– Was the conviction for a misdemeanor or a felony?
– Did you commit the crime as a minor?
– Do you have any proof of rehabilitation?
– Did you acknowledge your criminal record when filling your visa application form? (If applicable)
– Is the crime equally weighted in the USA as it is in Canada?
If your criminal record has been expunged, consult with an experienced lawyer before traveling to Canada.
Ways you can enter Canada with an expunged conviction
When you consult with an immigration lawyer or the Canadian consulate, you will be told if you are inadmissible to Canada. If you are inadmissible, here are a few ways you can still enter Canada.
1. Apply for criminal rehabilitation
If your conviction was for a misdemeanor, you should apply for criminal rehabilitation. However, when you fill the application form, list the expunged criminal conviction. If you claim that you have no criminal history, it will be assumed that you are misrepresenting yourself.
After filling the application form correctly, explain the events that led to the conviction and explain how you have changed. Include documents that show that you have been rehabilitated and have a stable life. Lastly, attach documents that show your conviction has been expunged.
2. Apply for a temporary resident permit
You can apply for a temporary resident permit if you have an expunged conviction. To get this permit, you must have a valid reason for wanting to visit Canada. This includes work, school, and family visits.
The process of getting this permit is quite straightforward. You will need to fill and submit an application form. All the necessary documents will be attached to the application form. After submitting the form, you will need to pay an application fee.
This fee is non-refundable even if you are not approved for a temporary resident permit. This permit can be issued for 6 months or longer. After the permit expires, you will need to apply for another permit before you can travel to Canada again.