Canada Immigration Criminal Record Check

Before coming to Canada, certain things need to be in check. Finances. Health. Whether you want to bring your pets or not. It is crucial to make everything ready before immigrating.

One area of interest for Canadian immigration officers is your criminal record. Why? It’s simple.

The government of Canada needs to protect the country. IRCC and the Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA) assists by safeguarding the border. 

Hence, immigration applicants 18 and over will need to submit to a criminal record check in Canada. This applies to tourists, temporary workers, students, and caregivers. Even permanent resident and citizenship applicants need a criminal record check.

In this article, we will tell you everything about getting police certificates for Canadian immigration.

How Does One Get A Criminal Record Check?

A police certificate shows your criminal record. It will also be the basis of admitting you to the Canadian border.

You might be in either one of these two situations. Either you are outside Canada about to immigrate. Or, you are already in Canada, but you need a police certificate for permanent residence or citizenship.

If You Are Not Yet In Canada

Police Clearance for Canadian Immigration

You will need to secure a police clearance or certificate from your country’s police agency. Every country is different. There will be differences in requirements and processes. Nevertheless, the procedure for each country is on the Canadian government’s main site.

On the main menu, just select “Immigration and Citizenship”. From there, you need to select “Medical Exams and Police Checks”. You may then choose your country of origin and check how to get a police certificate. 

The document may not be in English or French. Hence, you will need to get it translated

Sometimes, you may not be able to get a police certificate from your country’s police agency. In this situation, you need to provide the following:

  1. Proof that you requested for a police clearance or certificate
  2. A written explanation for why you could not get one. This explanation has to contain all the efforts you made in obtaining the police certificate.

If You Are Already In Canada

If you have already arrived or lived in Canada, you may need a police certificate to be a citizen. Criminal record checks in Canada are carried out by the RCMP or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The agency’s CCRTIS stores and releases all biometrics and other information.

Citizenship and permanent resident applications require a police certificate in Canada. To apply for a police certificate, you need to provide your photo and fingerprints again. You may simply contact the nearest police office for this. Private biometric collection points may take your photograph and fingerprints.

There is also the option of visiting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website. The site has a language selection feature. By default, the site is in English, but you may select French.

For citizenship, You will need your biometrics and application form. Also, you need to provide sufficient identification. You must also state that you need the police certificate for immigration.

Submission The Police Certificate

Once issued, your police certificate can be submitted for a limited time. The period depends on your chosen visa program.

For Express Entry, you have 60 days to submit the police certificate. This must be done 60 days after you have been invited to apply for Express Entry. For example, if you received your ITA (Invitation to Apply) on July 3, 2008, you should submit your police certificate before September 1, 2008.

In the case of the International Experience Canada class, it is different. The police clearance must be with your work permit application. In other words, you need to give your police certificate and your work permit application together.

What Are The Average Processing Times For Police Certificates?

Again, there are police certificates given in or out of Canada. For those issued outside the country, the waiting or processing times are different. You may need to inquire from your local police agency.

In Canada, the waiting time for police certificates may take only three business days. However, it may also take as long as 120 business days in the following cases:

  • The name on the certificate matches the name of a person with a criminal record.
  • The information on the application is incomplete or inaccurate and may require more time to confirm.

The waiting time starts from your submission of your biometrics. It ends with the receipt of your police certificate. You may have to wait longer due to a slight delay in the delivery time.

Nonetheless, you may contact the CCRTIS to follow up on your police certificate.

Is Immigration To Canada Possible With A Criminal Record?

To answer it directly, immigration with a criminal record is possible. However, does a criminal record make it harder to immigrate to Canada? It does. In fact, it complicates the entire immigration process.

Any prospective immigrant or applicant may be inadmissible to Canada due to minor and major crimes. These crimes could include:

  • Theft
  • Assault
  • Driving-related offenses
  • Possession and usage of banned substances
  • Manslaughter

There are other offenses. Be that as it may, these are the most common offenses of immigration and citizenship applicants. With a criminal record, a person could immigrate to Canada depending on the following:

  • The amount of time which has passed since the crime
  • Rehabilitation
  • How behaved the applicant was after his or her sentence

A person who has finished serving his or her sentence may apply for immigration after five years. For instance, if a person finished his or her sentence on June 3, 2010, he or she may apply for Canadian immigration from June 3, 2015, onwards. The time of probation is counted as part of a criminal sentence.

Rehabilitation and behaviour are also essential requirements. Canadian immigration law can acknowledge rehabilitation as:

  1. A document that mentions rehabilitation or the end of a person’s sentence
  2. The unlikelihood of participating in criminal acts again
Rehabilitation for Criminals applying for Canada Immigration

For many, the second is challenging to prove. Nonetheless, an applicant could prove this with records of income and current employment. Also, any certificate of behavioral improvement can serve as proof.

On Pardons

A person does not need to have committed a crime to be criminally inadmissible. He or she may also be charged with a crime, but the charges may have been withdrawn or dropped. This status is known as non-conviction. Non-conviction may still affect a person’s immigration or citizenship application.

To lessen or remove the effect of non-conviction, a person needs to apply for a record suspension. A record suspension or pardon is a written proof of dropped or withdrawn criminal charges.

A record suspension does not erase a crime. However, it allows an immigration application to continue.

Here are the steps to apply for a record suspension:

  1. Determine eligibility
  2. Apply for record suspension using this form
  3. After applying, inform IRCC
  4. Once granted a record suspension, inform IRCC again.


The criminal record check for Canadian immigration serves one purpose: to ensure that all who come to Canada will contribute to its safety and prosperity.

While it is ideal to have a clean record, Canada is a land of second chances. With that said, anyone with a criminal history could still immigrate. Though difficult, immigration to Canada is still possible.

Nevertheless, it’s like the importance of having a clean bill of health. Having a clear criminal record makes Canadian immigration and citizenship much easier.

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

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