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Police Clearance Certificates

During your research about Canadian immigration, you may have come across the common requirement of obtaining a police certificate. A police certificate is a necessary part of the immigration process and provides valuable information to officers about the history of the applicant. In this blog, we will be discussing the importance of a police certificate to your immigration application and the specific details of the police certificate requirement for each immigration program.

Why Do I Need A Police Certificate?

Before we get into what a police certificate is, let’s talk about why it is important to obtain one. Going back to the basics of Canadian immigration, the three pillars are family reunification, humanitarianism and compassionate situations, and economic immigration. Despite these pillars, with each immigration case, Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) must find a balancing act. The IRCC is obligated to protect the Canadian permanent residents and citizens already in Canada, but they want to open the doors to foreign nationals that will enhance Canada’s economy. This is where a police certificate enters into the picture as one area that is looked at and screened when foreign nationals are coming into Canada.

A police certificate is a document that that shows the IRCC that you do not have a criminal record, or if you do, a copy of your criminal record. It allows IRCC to see if there are any reasons that you would be inadmissible to Canada, for reasons such as security, human or international rights violations, criminality, or organized criminality. A police certificate is necessary for most situations when you apply to become a permanent resident of Canada, but you also may be asked to have one if you are coming to Canada as a temporary resident, such as on a tourist, student, temporary worker, or as a caregiver.

It should be noted that a police clearance certificate may have different terms in different countries. It may be called a police clearance certificate, a good conduct certificate, judicial court extracts, a police check, or other names. Keep in mind that if your police certificate is not in English or French, you will need to send your police certificate with an English or French translation from a certified translator.

Not everyone needs to get a police certificate, but the general rule is that anyone 18 years or older will need one, depending on the program that you are applying to. You will need a police certificate for countries or territories where you have spent six or more consecutive months in the past ten years, or since you were 18.

Requirements for Different Programs

Each program has a unique deadline for when the police certificate needs to be issued. We will be talking about Express Entry, Family Class, and International Experience Canada (IEC) programs throughout the rest of the blog. We have gone through Express Entry and family class applications in previous articles, but we will do a quick recap. Express Entry is made up of four programs: Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Workers, Federal Skilled Trades, and Provincial Nominee Programs. Through these programs, Express Entry provides a pathway towards permanent residence. The family class allows Canadian citizens or permanent residents to sponsor their family members to bring them to Canada. As for IEC, it is a program that provides youth with the chance to travel and work in Canada. There are different categories that make up the IEC, which include Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op (Internship). Now that we have refreshed your memory on these programs, let’s get into the specific requirement of a police certificate, for each one.

For Express Entry, you have 90 days to submit the police certificate, which needs to be submitted at the same time as your application for permanent residency. You will not need a police certificate for any time spent in a country or territory before the age of 18, or for any time spent in Canada. Your police certificate must be a scanned coloured copy of the original certificate. They cannot be certified true copies or unauthorized copies. A certified true copy is a photocopy of the original document that has been certified as a true copy by an authorized person. After submitting your application with your police certificate included, the officer may ask for additional police certificates from any time since you were 18 years old.

Another period of time to keep in mind is how long the police certificate will be valid. Again, this depends on the immigration program that you are applying to. For Express Entry, the validity period is different depending on if the police certificate is for the country where you currently live, or for any other country in which you lived for six months or more. If it is for the country you currently live in, the police certificate must be issued no more than six months before the date you submit your application, and it must not be expired.

For any other country, the police certificate must be issued after the last time you stayed there for six months or more. Some countries will put expiry dates on their police certificates. If it is expired, you should still include it in the application. It will be accepted if it was issued after the last time you stayed there for six months or more, and it is not for the country where you currently live. However, you may be asked to obtain a new police certificate later on.

In comparison, an application for International Experience Canada (IEC) requires the police certificate to be submitted at the same time as the work permit application. Similar to Express Entry, the validity of the police certificate depends on if it is for the country or territory you currently live in or any other country where you have stayed for six or more months consecutively. For the former, the police certificate cannot be older than six months from the day you apply. For the latter, the certificate must have been issued after you left. You can use the certificate for your IEC application as long as you have not gone back to that country or territory.

The requirements for family class differ depending on the family member you are sponsoring, but in general, a police certificate is needed for the person being sponsored and for each family member that is 18 years old or older. In addition, the validity of the police certificate is generally for one year from the date of issuance. If you are sponsoring your spouse, partner or children, you will need to attach the police certificate to the application. If you choose to sponsor your parents or grandparents for family class, you do not need to include the police certificates with the application, they will be requested later on in the process. As for sponsoring relatives, you will need to include the police certificate with your application.

Where to Get a Police Certificate

Now that you have figured out whether you need a police certificate or not, how do you get one? In general terms, you will need to contact the police or the government for a police certificate. You might have to provide information or documents like fingerprints, photographs, or your addresses and the dates that you lived in the country or territory. You will also need to pay a fee. It is important to keep in mind that providing your fingerprints for a police certificate is not the same as giving your fingerprints for biometrics. To find out how and where you can get a police certificate for your country, click here. Keep in mind that this information may not be up to date because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so it is best to contact the country’s authority.

Some countries may require a request letter from IRCC before they will issue you a police certificate. You will know if the country requires a request letter by searching for the country here. For Express Entry, if this situation applies to you, in the field where you upload your police certificate, upload a document that states “I am applying from a country that requires an official request letter from IRCC to get a police certificate”. As for Family Class applications, you will need to fill out the Request for Police Certificates/Clearances and Authorization for Release of Information form and submit the consent form in place of the police certificate.

If you are unable to obtain a police certificate, you need to explain why you cannot get one. An example of reasons that you may be unable to obtain a police certificate can include conflict in the country, war, or a natural disaster. To prove this, you will need to show proof that you requested a police certificate from the correct authorities and write a letter explaining all the steps you took to obtain one. However, even if you do submit everything, it is not guaranteed that they will accept your explanation for not providing the police certificate.

In the case of Express Entry, you have two options if you are unable to gather your police certificates before the 90-day deadline. You can either decline your invitation to apply, which will result in your profile going back into the Express Entry pool. The other option is to prove that you have applied for the police certificate, which we have just mentioned.

For IEC, if you are unable to obtain a police certificate before the deadline, you can upload a copy of the receipt to show that you have applied for one, or a screenshot of the confirmation page or email when you ordered your police certificate online. An officer will request a police certificate later on through a letter they will send to your account. In the request letter, there will be a deadline that you need to send the police certificate by, or your application will be refused.

Lastly, for family class, there are three different outcomes if you are unable to submit a police certificate. Based on the available information, the officer may determine that they are satisfied you are not criminally inadmissible, that they are not satisfied you are criminally inadmissible or send a letter requesting for you to submit any outstanding police certificates or proof of your efforts to obtain one.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this article was helpful in addressing the timelines to obtain a police certificate, its validity, and the steps that can be taken if you are unable to obtain one before the deadline. As you can see, a police certificate is an important part of your application, and not including it or not providing it in the right format can result in a rejection or a return of your application which could cost you months of processing time.

Should you have any questions about police clearance certificates, or have any other questions, feel free to reach out to us and we will surely get you started to understand the options that are available to you!


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