Bill C-46: The Impact of New Impaired Driving Sentence on Immigration LawThe Royal Assent of Bill C-46 has increased the maximum sentence for impaired driving from 5 years to 10 years’ imprisonment. Effectively, it has escalated an impaired driving conviction from ordinary criminality under the Immigration Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to serious criminality with severe consequences for both permanent residents and foreign nationals.

There are four main consequences:

  1. Permanent residents with impaired driving charges INSIDE Canada will now be considered serious criminals, inadmissible to Canada and subject to loss of permanent resident status. If such a permanent resident has earned, through this conviction, more than six months’ imprisonment, they will lose their right of appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD).
  2. Permanent residents with impaired driving charges OUTSIDE of Canada, or who are believed to have committed impaired driving offences OUTSIDE of Canada will now be inadmissible to Canada with no right of appeal to the IAD. Even a foreign charge that is subsequently withdrawn could trigger the same outcome.
  3. Foreign nationals will be inadmissible and ineligible for permanent resident status until they obtain a record of suspension (formerly known as a “pardon”) for any impaired driving conviction INSIDE Canada or where five years have passed since an “OUTSIDE of Canada” conviction (or commission of an offence) and a rehabilitation plan is determined. This will extend to sponsored spouses of Canadian citizens or permanent residents and their children.
  4. Foreign nationals previously deemed rehabilitated pursuant to IRPA will be inadmissible to Canada following an impaired driving conviction; this may lead to impact upon foreign students, foreign workers, and even visitors to Canada.

With the implementation of eTA for those who do not need a visa to enter into Canada, and the new requirements for biometric measurement submissions (coming in force at the end of July and the end of December, 2018, respectively), anyone who has any experience with impaired driving INSIDE or OUTSIDE of Canada must be cautious in reviewing their past records and make sure that C-46 will not negatively impact their stay in Canada or entry into Canada.

Contact our office by phone (519-744-3570) or email ( if you have further questions or need more legal consultation regarding your travel and/or  immigration preparation.