Drunk driver escapes deportation

By Sukhram Ramkissoon

Sukhram Ramkissoon

A reader recently asked, if a permanent resident was convicted for “driving while impaired” could be ordered deported? I informed him, that because his question is of some interest to all permanent residents, I will be addressing his important question in my article.

Let us look at a recent case in which I represented a young man from the Caribbean. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to my client as “James” which is not his real name. James is 30 years of age and became a permanent resident in 2016, when he was sponsored together with his parents by his sister who is a Canadian Citizen.

James had two charges against him both for “Operation while Impaired”; one in August 2019 and the second in November of the same year. He was convicted on both of them in February 2021 and was sentenced to 30 days concurrent on both counts.  He was also ordered to serve this time in his home, with curfew conditions and ordered to pay a $200.00 fine. It should be noted that both offences were under the Criminal Code of Canada, and he successfully completed his sentence.

As a result of the above convictions, James received a letter from the Enforcement Section of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and was informed that he is inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) for serious criminality.  The offences for which he was convicted, are offences under an Act of Parliament and punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least ten years.

James was informed that a decision to allow him to remain in Canada or to seek a removal order against him, will be made in the near future. They will also embark on a process to review the circumstances surrounding his case.  They enclosed an information form and requested him to make submissions on why a removal order should not be made against him.

They also informed him that he may include the age he became a permanent resident, what courses he took and steps taken towards rehabilitation; the time he spent in Canada and degree of establishment; family and their support in Canada; impacts of his removal on that family; community support available to him; and the degree of hardship that will be caused if he was removed from Canada.

In June 2021, James retained my office to represent him and I requested an extension of time to address the important factors in his case.  The extension was granted until July 14th. I complied with the timeline granted and provided submissions, supporting letters and documents, establishing the grounds on why he should be allowed to remain in Canada and that a warning letter is substantiated in this case.

James’ provided a letter, stating that he arrived as a permanent resident in Canada in July 2016 with his parents, who were sponsored by his sister and she is well established.  In Canada, his relatives include his parents, sister, uncles, aunt, nephew, and nieces with whom he has an exceptionally good relationship. He has one sister who resides permanently overseas and has no relatives in his home country. Within a few weeks of arriving in Canada, he found employment and is permanently employed as an auto technician, to present date, with a large muffler franchise. He actively filed his Income Tax returns for the years 2016 to 2020.

He further stated that his conviction has caused him shame and embarrassment. His family is very much upset about his conduct, which has also caused them stress and embarrassment. He sought forgiveness from the CBSA official who was reviewing his file, and pleaded for another chance as he is the only son for his parents and their lives will be shattered if he is sent back to his country of birth.

All his relatives and friends in Canada, wrote supportive letters requesting that James be allowed to remain in Canada. He included his establishment factors, such as his bank accounts, assets, pay stubs and contributions he made to his community.

Early this month, James received a letter from CBSA, stating that his circumstances have been reviewed, and no further action will be taken against him at this time. However, the decision will be reviewed, should they become aware of any further violations under IRPA.

So in summary, the answer to this question is yes.  A permanent resident may be ordered deported as a result of driving while impaired, or in the case of James, operation while impaired. It is up to the discretion of the CBSA officer to make that decision.

Congratulations James, as many are not as fortunate when they are in a similar circumstance.

This information should not be viewed as legal advice.  If you, or someone you know, are in a similar situation, they should seek legal advice from a professional.


SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of ICCRC and specialises in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto, Ontario. M6A 2A4 Phone 416 789 5756.