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How Changes in Canadian Criminal Law Will Affect Entering Canada and the United States of America

Published: Oct 23, 2018

How Changes in Canadian Criminal Law Will Affect Entering Canada and the United States of America

  1. Entering the United States of America

    On October 17, 2018 adults in Canada may legally possess up to 30 grams of cannabis. The federal government of the United States of America, although several states allow medical or recreational use of marijuana, frowns on the use or possession of marijuana even if this is done outside of the United States. The United States can deny Canadians entry on a number of marijuana-related grounds. This includes admission of use without a conviction. Once ruled inadmissible, you will need a special waiver to enter the United States. In Ontario recreational marijuana is supposed to be only available through online purchases until April, 2019. Given how many times big internet service providers or websites have been hacked in the last few years, it is not inconceivable that if an Ontarian orders marijuana online, that the purchase might somehow come to the attention of the American authorities.

  2. Entering Canada

Someone who has committed a criminal offence can likewise be barred entry to Canada. After a period of time, the person can apply to Canada for permission to enter. We call this an application for "rehabilitation". Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will then make a determination whether or not their entry will be permitted. If the person, though, has only been convicted of one relatively "minor" offence and they served their sentence or paid their fine more than ten years ago, they do not have to go through that application. They are deemed to be rehabilitated. Whether or not they can take advantage of this provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act depends on whether in Canada's Criminal Code, the offence they committed outside of Canada is considered to be serious. (If they committed the offence within Canada they have to apply for something different called a criminal record suspension).

A common conviction is one for drunk driving. As of today, someone who was convicted of only drunk driving (once) and whose sentence was finalized more than ten years ago, would be deemed "rehabilitated". They would be allowed to enter Canada. In December, 2018, though, that rule is going to change. The Canadian Criminal Code is changing and the maximum sentence that a person can be given for drunk driving will go up. Everyone who has been convicted of drunk driving outside of Canada must after the change apply for "rehabilitation" before they can enter Canada.

We believe at Eisenberg & Young LLP that it is still possible to successfully apply for citizenship, temporary worker and permanent resident status in Canada despite these changes. We strongly recommend, given the complexity of the present and ever-changing immigration system, that you do not apply without first obtaining professional help with the application.

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