Immigration Matters:- Sukhram Ramkissoon
Impaired driving conviction makes refugee claimant inadmissible to Canada
I have recently received a letter from a ” regular reader” on a subject which I believe will be of interest to many readers of my column.
Here is the letter followed by my response:
Dear Mr. Ram,
I am a refugee claimant and have received a work permit. My hearing is scheduled to be held shortly. However, just before the Christmas holidays I was convicted of impaired driving.
I paid a fine and was disqualified from driving for one year.
I am married to a Canadian citizen who has filed an inland spousal sponsorship application on my behalf.
In light of my conviction, can I still pursue the refugee claim and sponsorship application?
Please publish my letter and your reply in your column since this matter may be of interest to many of your readers.
Call me a regular reader.
Dear Regular Reader,
By your own admission and action, you now have a criminal conviction. This puts you in a very serious situation which may eventually result in your removal from Canada.
According to law, your claim for refugee protection will be cancelled and you will be given a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment Application (PRRA) . Your spousal application will also be refused but you may apply for a TRP Temporary Resident Permit as you are now inadmissible to Canada.
Canada Border Services will be contacting you shortly, if they have not done so already, for an admissibility hearing, If it is determined by the Immigration Division that you were indeed convicted for impaired driving, and there is no appeal, a deportation order will be issued against you.
If this is done, the CBSA officer will be informing you that as a result of your conviction in Canada, which is punishable by a maximum term of 10 years in prison, you are now inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality.
After your inadmissibility hearing, you will be receiving a letter from the Immigration and Refugee Board informing you that your claim has been terminated. This means that your refugee file will be closed and there will be no more proceedings with respect to your claim.
A judge of the Federal Court recently noted that many times, section 36(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) reflects a form of a social contract. In exchange for the opportunity to reside in Canada, permanent residents (and foreign nationals) are expected not to commit serious criminal offences. The IRPA recognizes that immigration brings many benefits to Canada and that the “successful integration of permanent residents involves mutual obligations for those new immigrants and for Canadian society,” including the obligation of the former to avoid serious criminality.
The IRPA “aims to permit Canada to obtain the benefits of immigration, while recognizing the need for security and outlining the obligations of permanent residents.” Parliament has stated that among the objectives of the IRPA with respect to immigration are “to protect public health and safety and to maintain the security of Canadian society” and “to promote international justice and security by fostering respect for human rights and by denying access to Canadian territory to persons who are criminals or security risks.”
Impaired driving is a serious offence and in the case of a person seeking refugee status in Canada, such an offence may result in inadmissibility.
However, let me remind readers that the information provided in this column should not be regarded as legal advice.
For legal advice, please consult an authorized representative.
SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC ) and specialises in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A Toronto, Ontario. Phone 416 789 5756.