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Criminal Records and Obtaining Canadian Citizenship

If you have had brushes with the law in the past, it may not be as straightforward to obtain your Canadian Citizenship as it might be for someone with a completely clean record.    The Citizenship Act, most recently updated on June 11th of 2015, specifies what information in your record might prevent you from becoming a Canadian Citizen.  If any of the following circumstances apply to you, you will not be able to obtain permanent Canadian Citizenship:

  • If you are on parole or on probation in Canada,
  • If you are serving a criminal sentence in a country outside of Canada,
  • If you are charged with, on trial for, or involved in an appeal already under the Citizenship Act,
  • If you are charged with, on trial for, or involved in an appeal regarding an indictable offence in Canada (or an offense considered to be equivalent to an indictable offense in Canada),
  • If Canadian officials have asked you to leave Canada,
  • If you have had a citizenship application refused in the past five years,
  • If you have had your Canadian citizenship revoked (taken away) because of fraud in the past ten years,
  • If you have been convicted of an indictable offence in Canada or an offence under the Citizenship Act in the four years before you apply,
  • If you have been convicted outside Canada of an offence that is determined to be equivalent to an indictable offence in Canada in the four years before you apply, even if you were pardoned or otherwise granted amnesty for the offence,
  • If you have had your Canadian citizenship revoked (taken away) because you have been convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason, or spying offences, depending on the sentence received; or because you have served as a member of an armed force of a country or organized armed group and that country or group engaged in armed conflict with Canada,
  • If you have been convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason, or spying offences while you were a permanent resident,
  • If you have ever served as a member of an armed force of a country or organized armed group and that country or group engaged in armed conflict with Canada, while you were a permanent resident,
  • And, if course, if you have never met or no longer meet the requirements for a citizenship grant or resumption of citizenship.

If you applied for Canadian citizenship before June 11, 2015, most of these prohibitions will apply to you. However, if you have been convicted of an indictable offence in Canada or an offence under the Citizenship Act before June 11, 2015 you will be prohibited in the three years before you apply, rather than four years stated above.

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It is also important to note that people who have had their citizenship revoked for any reason can never apply for resumption of citizenship.  If any of the above situations apply to you, it is recommended to wait until the situation no longer applies before you make an application for citizenship, or look into Canadian pardon services to see what can be done regarding your criminal record.