The Importance of Opinion Letters for Canadian Immigration

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KLM Immigration Law
June 3, 2024
Busy Canadian immigration attorney sitting at her desk writing an opinion letter for her client. She’s near her laptop.

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Canadian immigration laws are stringent, particularly regarding criminal inadmissibility. For those facing this challenge, attorney-written opinion letters can help to secure entry into Canada. Let’s discuss the importance of opinion letters for Canadian immigration and how they support a smoother transition.

Immigration Landscape for Individuals With Criminal Records

Canada has barriers for people with criminal records who wish to enter the country. These challenges can range from visa denials to outright refusals of entry. This is due to Canada’s strict policies regarding criminal inadmissibility.

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), Canada evaluates individuals with criminal records based on the nature of their offense, the sentence received, and how much time has passed since the completion of the sentence. These stringent measures aim to protect the safety and security of Canadian society.

Nature of Offenses and Impact on Admissibility

Canada also distinguishes between “criminality” for less severe offenses and “serious criminality” for more severe offenses or those carrying a potential sentence of at least six months of imprisonment. Serious criminality significantly affects an individual’s admissibility. 

Assessing the equivalency of offenses is also an important factor. Canada evaluates a person’s criminal record based on the interpretation of the offense under Canadian law rather than the jurisdiction standards where authorities convicted the crime. Thus, a minor act in one country or state could appear more serious in Canada, impacting admissibility.

A Gateway to Overcoming Inadmissibility

A legal opinion letter is a document from a licensed Canadian immigration attorney that provides a legal interpretation of your criminal record and its implications for your immigration application. Opinion letters for Canadian immigration are important because they help officers understand the specifics of your case. They also address potential concerns regarding your criminal inadmissibility.

Only a licensed Canadian immigration attorney can write these letters because only they have the legal expertise and comprehensive knowledge of Canadian immigration laws to assess and interpret the implications of your case. Professionals ensure the information and arguments are authoritative and legally sound.

Attorney meeting her client in an office. She has a legal pad open in front of her, discussing the information with the client.

The Attorney’s Role in Crafting Opinion Letters

Preparing a legal opinion letter to enter Canada is a meticulous process. An immigration attorney gathers information about your criminal history, including court documents and details regarding the offense and its completion. 

Key components of a legal opinion letter include a detailed explanation of the offense committed, its Canadian legislative equivalent, and why you ought to be permitted to enter Canada according to the country’s criminal and immigration laws. Attorneys will leverage their legal expertise to craft compelling narratives highlighting the applicable law in Canada and demonstrating your entry eligibility.

Preparing for the Opinion Letter

Gather Documents

This collection should include complete criminal records, court documents that detail the nature of the offense, the sentence, and any related legal proceedings. These documents form the foundation of your application, offering a clear and comprehensive overview of your legal history.

Consult Your Attorney

Share all the information with your attorney and thoroughly discuss your case. Your attorney needs a complete understanding of your situation to provide the best advice and craft a compelling opinion letter.

Why Honesty Matters

Being fully transparent builds trust between you and your attorney. It also builds trust between you and the immigration authorities. Misrepresentations or omissions could lead to your application’s refusal or, worse, a ban from entering Canada for misrepresentation.

Providing accurate information allows your attorney to assess your case and give advice. It also ensures the legal opinion letter and other components of your application accurately represent your situation.

Choosing the Right Attorney

When selecting an attorney for criminal inadmissibility cases, focus on three key aspects. Firstly, verify the attorney’s license to practice Canadian immigration law. Secondly, choose someone with experience in criminal inadmissibility, as their expertise is crucial for a positive outcome. Lastly, consider the attorney’s reputation by reviewing feedback from past clients.

Close-up of someone’s hand writing on a legal document. The person highlights a few words with an orange highlighter.

What To Expect During This Process

Understanding what to expect during consultations and meetings with your attorney can prepare you for a smooth process. Here’s a breakdown:

Initial Consultation and Information Gathering

Your journey begins with an initial consultation. During this meeting, you will share the details of your case and discuss your immigration goals. Expect the attorney to ask questions about your background, including that criminal record.

Following the initial discussion, your attorney will request various documents, such as criminal records, court documents, and proof of sentence completion. This stage includes gathering paperwork that will support your case. Your attorney will review these documents thoroughly to understand the specifics of your situation and how to argue for your admissibility.

Outlines and Drafts

After gaining a clear understanding of your case, the attorney will outline a strategy. This plan will involve drafting the opinion letter to argue why Canada should not consider you inadmissible. 

The drafting process is where your attorney’s expertise comes to the forefront. They will craft a compelling letter that addresses your criminal inadmissibility, outlines and highlights why you are eligible for entry into Canada.

Review and Submission

Once the draft is ready, you’ll have the opportunity to review it. This is a collaborative part of the process, where you can provide input and ask questions. Your attorney will refine the letter based on your feedback, ensuring that it represents your case while making the strongest argument possible.

Finally, your attorney will provide you with a copy of the legal opinion letter and all supporting documentation. They will advise you on the next steps, what to expect at the time of crossing the border, and how to handle follow-up queries from immigration officials.

Contact KLM Immigration Today

For expert legal guidance on navigating Canadian immigration with a criminal record, contact KLM Immigration. Call us at 1-888-603-3003 to schedule a consultation with a licensed Canadian attorney. Don’t rely on paralegals—make sure professionals who understand the complexities of immigration law handle your case.

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