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Why Permanent Residents Should Not Delay Applying for Canadian Citizenship

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

Aside from not being allowed to vote, Permanent Residents in Canada face harsher penalties including deportation if they are convicted of impaired driving or other offences that fall under the "serious criminality" provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

Canadian permanent residents may not be aware that soon after the introduction of the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) in June 2018, Bill C-46 also came into effect which carries with it severe implications for permanent residents living in Canada.

As of December 2018

Permanent residents don’t have the same protections and privileges as Canadian citizens do. If you commit a serious offence as a permanent resident such as impaired driving (DUI), you may have to leave Canada permanently.

Amendments to the Canadian Criminal Code with the passing of Bill C-46 elevated the maximum sentence for an impaired driving conviction from 5 years to 10 years after the introduction of the Canabis Act.

How does this affect Permanent Residents?

One of the grounds for inadmissibility under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is "Serious Criminality". IRPA section 36(1) states that a permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality for having been convicted or committing an offence, inside or outside Canada, that carries a maximum sentence in Canada of up to 10 years imprisonment, or a sentence of more than 6 months in prison.

Therefore, an impaired driving (DUI) conviction for a permanent resident will result in a finding of inadmissibility under the IRPA for serious criminality, regardless if it is a first time offence or if the offender was only issued a fine. Under Canadian immigration law, being inadmissible for serious criminality can result in a permanent resident status being revoked and the person will face a removal order from Canada. This applies to all permanent residents, including those that grew up in Canada since early childhood but never bothered to apply for citizenship.

No Right to Appeal

Depending on where the offence was committed or the sentence imposed, a permanent resident may have no right to appeal the finding of inadmissibility and their consequent removal order from Canada.

In addition to the harsher penalties, section 64 of the IRPA also states that a permanent resident who is found inadmissible for serious criminality (such as an impaired driving offence) committed outside of Canada; OR if they were sentenced to six months or more imprisonment for a conviction committed in Canada; the permanent resident would have no right to appeal their inadmissibility or consequent removal from Canada, to the Immigration Appeal Division of the Immigration Refugee Board.

Don't Delay

To avoid a potential revocation of your permanent residence status, and a removal order or deportation from Canada, it would be advisable for all permanent residents to apply for Canadian citizenship as soon as they are eligible and meet all the requirements.

If you need assistance with criminal inadmissibility, citizenship, or have other immigration related matters, please contact Alpenglow Immigration Canada to book a consultation.

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Information provided was correct at time of publication, however changes may have occurred since it was published. Please contact us directly for any updates or specialist advice specific to your personal circumstances.

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