Travel, Immigration & Employment Consequences

Consequences of Criminal Charges for Travel to the United States and Other Countries

The United States has very strict immigration rules for Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have been involved with the justice system in Canada.  Of the many barriers to entry into the US, an individual’s criminal history for even a minor offence can result in being denied admission, depending on both the circumstances of the offence and the final result of the case.  To be inadmissible to the United States on criminal grounds, the non-citizen or non-resident must generally be convicted for what is called a “Crime of Moral Turpitude.”

The list of “Crimes of Moral Turpitude” is extensive and should be discussed with your lawyer, but generally includes most crimes of deception, drug offences (even simple possession of Marijuana), and a number of crimes of violence.  The definition of “conviction” is much broader than in Canada and includes not only Suspended Sentences but also fines and certain types of Discharges.  If you receive a Conditional Discharge in Canada for a “Crime of Moral Turpitude”, the attached period of probation may make you inadmissible.

In situations where you would like to travel to the United States but may be inadmissible, a skilled immigration lawyer may assist you with the preparation of an inadmissibility waiver.  If you are asked, or anticipate that you will be asked, about your criminal history in Canada while attempting to enter the United States, a false answer may leave you subject to serious consequences.  Our law office works directly with US-side immigration attorneys in assisting Canadians who have legitimate concerns regarding travel to the US for business or holidays.  With respect to travel to other countries, certain countries are far more flexible with respect to their policies and we reach out for our clients to the Canadian consulates abroad for clarification on a case-by-case basis.


Immigration Consequences of Criminal Charges for Foreign Students, Workers and Permanent Residents of Canada

 In June of 2013, new laws affecting the rights of non-citizens convicted of crimes in Canada came into effect.  The Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act (FRFCA) resulted in changes to the inadmissibility provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the main immigration statute in Canada, that resulted in changes including the loss of certain appeal rights and limits on Humanitarian & Compassionate grounds.

Non-citizens (including Permanent Residents) who have been convicted of certain serious categories of offences in Canada, or who have received particular types of sentences for less serious crimes, may now find themselves subject to an immigration removal order.  Similar to the United States, it is either the type of offence for which you were convicted (even if the sentence was suspended), or the length of the sentence you received (even if the charge was minor) that may trigger a Section 44 Removal Order.

Our law office has assisted numerous individuals facing immigration consequences upon conviction of a criminal offence and regularly make presenting a client’s collateral immigration consequences a part of the negotiation process.  In the 2013 case of R. v. Pham, the Supreme Court of Canada addressed this issue directly stating that “A sentencing judge may exercise his or her discretion to take collateral immigration consequences into account, provided that the sentence ultimately imposed is proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.”

Employment Consequences of Criminal Charges

Many of our clients share concerns regarding employment consequences of criminal charges and convictions.  Although we live in a country where there is a presumption of innocence, and individuals are considered innocent until proven guilty, it is not uncommon for persons charged with criminal offences to find themselves having to account or explain circumstances behind criminal charges to their employers, even in situations where the charge has nothing to do with their job, or where the case ultimately gets dropped or withdrawn.

If you are currently employed and are facing criminal charges, our law office assists clients on a case-by-case basis with understanding the following:

  • Do you have any obligations under your employment agreement to disclose charges to your employer?
  • Are you a real estate agent, security guard, dentist, accountant, pilot, doctor, paralegal, or other professional?  Do you have any professional or licensing obligations to disclose charges to your licensing or regulatory body?
  • Are you concerned about losing your job because of information about you on the internet?


If you have lost employment while having criminal charges outstanding:

  • Were your charges related to your employment?
  • Were you fired for a good reason, or what is referred to as “just cause”?  Do you want to know if you have any rights or remedies available under Canadian labor laws?
  • Did you lose your job because someone informed your employer about your outstanding charges, or directed them to information about you on the internet?


If you are looking for employment and you have prior experience in the justice system:

  • Are you aware of what comes up on a Criminal Record Search?
  • Are you a teacher, nurse, or other type of person who works with children, the disabled or elderly, making you subject to a “Vulnerable Sector Search?”
  • Do you know what comes up on your federal RCMP (CPIC) criminal background check?  Are you eligible to get those records destroyed?


The relationship between our clients and our office goes well beyond defending the case.  The complications that could arise following being arrested and charged leave many individuals and their families with serious and impactful questions regarding their rights, and the roadblocks they could face in the future.  Our office prides itself on helping you understand the justice system and what to expect, every step of the way.