Immigrating with a Criminal Record: Is Criminal Rehabilitation Automatic?

Immigrating with a Criminal Record:  Is Criminal Rehabilitation Automatic?

Under Canadian law, foreign nationals who have been convicted of certain crimes outside of Canada can be barred from entering Canada because of “criminal inadmissibility”. In many circumstances, individuals can have their criminal records erased for immigration purposes through a process known as “rehabilitation”. Depending on the seriousness of the crimes, individuals can be eligible for “deemed rehabilitation”, “individual rehabilitation”, or may not be eligible for rehabilitation at all.

What is “Deemed Rehabilitation”?

For individuals convicted of certain minor crimes, “deemed rehabilitation” is available. “Deemed rehabilitation” only requires the individual to show that they were convicted of that crime and that a certain number of years since the end of the sentence has passed.

What is “Individual Rehabilitation”?

For “individual rehabilitation”, foreign nationals have to prove not only that a minimum period of time has passed since their sentence ended but that they are also rehabilitated.

In many cases, people treat “individual rehabilitation” as something they are entitled to simply because of a certain number of years have passed since their sentence. A court case from last December establishes that this is not the case.

Why “Individual Rehabilitation” is not automatic?

Last December, the federal court decided that the case of Raed Hadad. Mr. Hadad had a significant criminal record which included convictions for arson and the unauthorized use of food stamps. All of these convictions occurred when Mr. Hadad lived in the U.S. and, after serving seven years in prison, he was deported from the U.S. to his home country. A number of years later, Mr. Hadad returned to the U.S., was subsequently arrested at a traffic stop, was jailed again by U.S. immigration for one year and then deported back to his home country.

A number of years later, Mr. Hadad came to Canada, Mr. Hadad met a Canadian citizen, married her and had two children with her. During the court case, their third child was expected to be born.

While in Canada, Mr. Hadad purchased a home with his wife, obtained a work permit that legally allowed him to work in Canada, began his own general contracting business (which employed three full-time staff at the time), was a member of his local church, and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. Mr. Hadad applied for rehabilitation but his application was denied.

The denial of his application shows that the simple passage of time will not result in individual rehabilitation result being automatically granted. This being said, Mr. Hadad was able to win his case because the judge found that the decision that the immigration officer made was not reasonable.

How do I know if I am eligible for rehabilitation?

The first thing that needs to be determined is whether the crime that was committed is equivalent to a Canadian crime and what particular crime it is equivalent to. This usually takes a detailed legal analysis of both the foreign and Canadian statute. It is only after this analysis is done can it be determined what type of rehabilitation, if any, is available.

This Article is prepared for general information purposes only and is intended to provide comments for readers and friends of the Filipino Journal. The contents should not be viewed as legal advice or opinion.

Reis is a partner with Aikins Law and practices in the areas of immigration law. His direct line is 957-4640. If you would like to know more about Reis or Aikins you can visit the firm’s web page at, follow Reis on Twitter at!/ImmigrationReis, or connect with him on LinkedIn at