IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? Canada has amended its Criminal Code to categorize impaired driving offenses as “serious criminality,” increasing the maximum punishment to 10 years in prison (from the current maximum of five years).
What does the change mean? The change carries potentially harsh consequences for Canadian permanent residents, foreign residents and visitors. A conviction for offenses deemed “serious criminality” renders a foreign national inadmissible and deportable regardless of the actual sentence imposed or how long ago the offense occurred. Additionally, a DUI committed by a Canadian permanent resident either inside or outside of Canada will render the permanent resident subject to possible deportation.
Background: The amendments to impaired driving offenses under Canada’s Criminal Code were passed in Bill C-46, which received royal assent June 21 and takes effect Dec. 18. The main provision affecting foreign nationals is the increase in the maximum punishment to 10 years of prison, which puts these offenses in the category of “serious criminality” and triggers inadmissibility and deportation consequences under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The key immigration consequences are as follows:
BAL Analysis: The new law was opposed by the Canadian Bar Association because of its harsh consequences on foreign visitors and permanent residents, as well as the likely flood of applications for rehabilitation and temporary residence permits that would strain Canadian immigration and border staff and resources. The Immigration Minister has indicated he is “committed to carefully considering and addressing the immigration consequences” of the new law and is examining tools within his authority, including discretionary tools, to mitigate those consequences. In the meantime, foreign nationals should anticipate that a DUI offense committed abroad or in Canada may jeopardize their ability to travel to Canada as a visitor or remain in Canada as a permanent resident.
This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.
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