Applying for spousal sponsorship for entry to Canada is not as simple as many people assume. There are important requirements that must be met by your foreign spouse before they are allowed permanent entry into the country. One of these is that your spouse must not be Criminally Inadmissible.
A person can be considered Criminally Inadmissible even for a crime as small as a DUI. Driving Under the Influence—no matter the gravity of the penalties imposed in your spouse’s country of origin—is considered a dangerous and serious offence by Canadian Immigration Laws. As such, it can adversely affect your application for spousal sponsorship to Canada.
In short, your spouse may be denied entry into Canada.
Driving under the influence is an indictable offence under Canadian law. It is likely to complicate your spouse’s immigration process by creating an instance of criminal inadmissibility, even if they meet all the appropriate requirements for sponsorship.
In the unfortunate event that your foreign spouse is considered as having criminal inadmissibility, here are some of the ways you could address it so that you and your spouse can be together on Canadian soil.
Qualifying for Rehabilitated Status
A person can only qualify for Deemed Rehabilitated status from the Canadian government if the following criteria are met:
- no other crimes other than the DUI have been committed; and
- a period of ten years has passed since the completion of the sentence.
This means that the married couple does not need to take any action as the foreign spouse is automatically considered not to be criminally inadmissible.
If the criteria are not met
If one or two of the aforementioned criteria are not met, then the spouse can apply for Criminal Rehabilitation so long as five years have passed since the criminal sentence was completed. This type of application can and should be made alongside an application for spousal sponsorship to Canada.
It is the couple’s responsibility to convince the Canadian immigration authorities that the applicant is unlikely to commit crimes if welcomed into Canada. If that is proven, then they are likely to grant rehabilitation, which overcomes criminal inadmissibility. Once granted, a Criminal Rehabilitation document needs no renewal.
A Temporary Residence Permit (TRP)
A Temporary Residence Permit or TRP is a visitor visa for the inadmissible. It is an entirely separate status from spousal sponsorship to Canada, but can at least allow a criminally inadmissible person to enter the country and be with their spouse however temporarily.
It is important to note that this is not a permanent solution even if they can be valid for multiple visits for up to three years. The purpose of the visit must also be outlined in great detail and must be convincing enough to be granted by Canadian immigration authorities.
Even if it is just a minor case of driving under the influence—or whatever minor offence—it is important to consider all your options when an inadmissible individual is involved. As the process can be complex and daunting, it might be best to consider consulting with an immigration lawyer prior to applying for sponsorship, especially if your spouse has been convicted of a DUI or some other offence.