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Impaired Driving Charges | Temporary Residents & Permanent Residents of Canada

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Impaired Driving Charges | Temporary Residents & Permanent Residents of Canada

Jade Calver

With the introduction of Bill C-46, impaired driving is now recognized as a serious crime under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Many clients have asked what this means for Temporary Residents (i.e. those in Canada on a work permit, study permit, or visitor visa) and Permanent Residents of Canada. Today, I explain how Temporary Residents and Permanent Residents are affected by this Bill and how to resolve any issues that may arise as a result.

Temporary Residents

If a Temporary Resident is convicted of impaired driving in Canada, they are rendered inadmissible. This means that those who fall into this category are subject to a removal order. While Canada has not traditionally been strict about adhering to removal orders, the Temporary Resident could still be affected should they try to leave the country and return at a Canadian border or port of entry.

It also means that those who try to renew their temporary resident permit (i.e. work permit, study permit, visitor visa, etc.) after the two-year period of its validity elapses may be denied their request. Furthermore, they may be asked to leave the country.

Permanent Residents

This Bill not only affects Temporary Residents but it will also affect Permanent Residents. When a Permanent Resident attempts to renew their PR card, they may be subject to removal from Canada.

In this case, you would have to go to the immigration division to an inadmissibility hearing and then argue whether you are admissible to Canada or not. If your ties are strong to Canada, you may be able to convince the immigration and refugee board member that you deserve to be in Canada. However, if you had prior convictions, this may be a more difficult case to argue.  

Criminal Rehabilitation

In order to become admissible, most people will have to submit a Temporary Resident Permit or apply for a criminal rehabilitation. In the past, you could be deemed rehabilitated with impaired driving charges after a certain number of years. With these changes, you are no longer eligible to become deemed rehabilitated. This means that you are automatically considered no longer inadmissible to Canada and you can then apply, as anyone would, to come to Canada.

Next, you would need to apply for a temporary resident permit (if you aren't eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation) or if 5 years have passed since the end of your sentence.

As I touched on earlier, there are some public policy changes because the government realized that there are some negative effects of impaired driving becoming a serious offence. So, it's our understanding that any impaired driving charges that occurred before the law came into effect in December 2018, will still be considered under the old law. In other words, those impaired driving charges issued before this date would just be regular criminality and not serious criminality. As such, those people would not be deemed inadmissible to Canada.


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