Many Canadian immigration programs require a police clearance certificate (or police certificate). This is a simple statement by the police that you don’t have a criminal record or if you have a prior and pending criminal charges.
Police certificates are very important if you are trying to become a permanent resident. The police certificate Canada immigration authorities demand must:
- Contain all relevant information (name, date of birth and more)
- Be issued by the appropriate authority in your country
- Be written in English or French (or be accompanied by a valid translation)
- Not have a disclaimer stating that the authority does not take responsibility for the information in the certificate
On the basis of the police clearance certificate for Canada, CIC will decide if you should be allowed into the country.
Learn all about the police clearance certificate for Canada below.
What is a police clearance certificate?
A police clearance certificate is a document that outlines criminal activity. For purposes of immigration, the police verification certificate proves that you have not been involved in any criminal activity. If you do have a criminal record, CIC will assess your admissibility on the basis of this certificate.
Canadian immigration officials rely on this police certification to make sure you are not a security risk. If they feel that your past criminal activity poses a danger to Canadian society, your application may be denied.
A police clearance certificate must be in English or French. If the police certification you receive is in another language, you must also provide an official/certified translation of the document and an affidavit with your application.
An affidavit for a translation is a document that says the translation is a true and accurate version of the original text.
What Canada immigration programs need a police clearance certificate?
Generally, most immigration programs require a police clearance certificate for Canada. Immigration suggests someone who is planning to come to a country permanently or for a long period of time. That’s why Provincial Nominee Programs, Express Entry and spousal sponsorship require police certificates.
Short stay visas don’t, typically, require police certificates. For example, the Visitor visa (tourist visa), which may be valid for up to 10 years, does not require a police clearance certificate be submitted with applications.
When is a police clearance certificate for Canada PR required?
CIC can require you and any family members (aged 18 years old and over) for a police clearance certificate. If you are applying for permanent residence, then you will most likely have to submit it. Here is a short list of PR programs that require police certification:
- Express Entry
- International Experience Candidate
- Provincial Nomine Programs
- Other immigration and citizenship programs
Which countries do you need a police certificate for?
It does not matter which country you are a citizen of; if your Canada immigration program requires it, you must provide a police certificate Canada accepts. CIC states that police certificates must be provided for all countries in which you have lived for six months or more, after you turned 18.
- Not required up to 18 years – You don’t need police clearance certificates for countries you lived in till you turned 18.
- Six month residence, but not always in country – If you have lived in a country for six months but travelled for a month outside the country during that time, it is best to get a police clearance certificate.
- Lived in a country for 5-6 months – If you lived in a country for just under 6 months, it is best to get a police clearance certificate, to be on the safe side.
- Did not live in the country six months in a row – If you have lived in a country for a total of six months, but not six months consecutively (in a row), you do not require police certification from that country.
- Time in Canada – You don’t need to show a police certificate for the time you have spent in Canada.
Where do I get the police certificate in my country?
The process for getting a police certificate varies from country to country. Many countries have updated their processes for obtaining police certificates in the last few years. It is best to get in touch with your police or government to find out what the process is for getting the certificate.
Police clearance certificates may be known by different names in different countries. They may be called:
- Police clearance certificates
- Judicial record extracts
- Good conduct certificates
- Or any other name
Note: Some countries offer more than one way of getting a police certificate. It is possible that certificates obtained in one or more such ways may not be acceptable to Canadian immigration officials.
Make sure you find out if the police certificate you are getting is accepted by CIC. Police certificates today will typically require you to provide photographs, your fingerprints, addresses in the country and more.
When should you get the police clearance certificate?
Depending on your immigration program, you may choose to obtain your police verification certificate before you begin or submit your application. Police certificates are, generally, valid for one year from their date of issue.
However, for Canada immigration, the police certificate must have been issued at most 6 months before you submitted your application.
What this is means is if your certificate is 8 months old when you submit your Canadian immigration application, it will not be considered.
For countries in which you no longer live, the police verification certificate must have been issued after you left that country for the last time.
Is your police certificate getting delayed?
IRCC allows extensions to deadlines for submitting police clearance certificates if it’s taking more than 90 days to process your police verification.
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What happens if I don’t submit my police certificate for Express Entry?
If you don’t submit the police certificate Canada requires at the time of filing your Express Entry application, you may be granted additional time to file the certificate. However, there is a high chance your application will be rejected.
Here are a few things you should consider:
- If you are unclear about whether the certificate is required, then consider sending it anyway.
- If you are uncertain if the certificate is required, and you don’t send it, it is best to explain it very clearly in the Letter of Explanation.
- If you have explained yourself and you have valid reasons for thinking it was unclear, CIC may ask you to submit it at a later date.
Why might a police verification certificate be rejected by CIC?
A police clearance certificate may be rejected by the CIC for a number of reasons:
- Being out of the validity period (i.e. more than 6 months old, at the time of submitting the immigration application).
- Mismatch in information on the certificate and that provided in the application (eg. spelling of your name or passport number).
- The police certificate does not meet the criteria laid down by CIC.
- The certificate does not cover you for the full period of your stay in the country.
Don’t forget, if you have a prior criminal record, CIC may reject your application if it considers you pose a security threat to the country.
Is getting a police certificate difficult?
How difficult it is for you to get a police clearance certificate varies from country to country. Make sure you go through the most appropriate and official process for getting the certificate, else it may be rejected by the CIC – and your time, effort and money will go waste!
What should my police certificate say?
Police verification certificates around the world are different. However, there is certain information that must be included in your certificate:
- Logo of the authority
- Date of issue
- Clear subject line that shows it is a police clearance certificate, judicial record extract, good conduct certificate, or similar
- Statement attesting lack of criminal record or list of offences
- Seal/sign of the official authority
If the police clearance certificate contains a disclaimer stating that the authority is not responsible for the accuracy of the information, CIC may reject the certificate.
Do I need a police certificate for PR?
Yes, most permanent residence (PR) programs, such as Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs, require police certificates be submitted.
How long is the police verification valid for?
A police clearance certificate or equivalent is usually valid for one year. For the country in which you are presently resident, the certificate must not be more than 6 months old at the time of submission of the application.
How Express Entry Works
Candidates who are eligible for a program under Express Entry (Federal Skilled Worker, Skilled Trades, or other) submit a profile into the pool. The profile is assigned a CRS score, which is based on their age, education, qualifications and other criteria. CIC regularly invites candidates with the highest scores to apply for permanent residence. Once that is complete, the application is typically processed within six months.
Police clearance certificate for Canada immigration from India
The police clearance certificate for Canada immigration from India is a must. Whether you are applying under Express Entry, for spousal or family sponsorship, or PNPs for permanent residence, it is essential that you submit the police certificate with your application.
Where to get the police certificate in India
The Indian Government streamlined the process for procuring the police clearance certificate for immigration to Canada only a few years ago. The certificate for Canada immigration from India can be procured in two different ways:
- Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) – An appointment must be taken before you visit your nearest PSK; fingerprints will be taken; certificates are issued in a standardized format (in English) and are accepted by CIC.
- Police superintendent – The police certificate for Canada immigration can be obtained directly by making an application to the local police in-charge; certificates will be in the local language and will need to be translated; since these are not standardized, CIC may not accept this type of police clearance.
Don’t know how to get a police certificate in your country?
The CIC does not provide specific guidance about how to get the police certificate in individual countries. If you are unsure of how and when to get the police clearance certificate, speak to an experienced Toronto Express Entry lawyer. Our specialists have expert knowledge about jurisdictions around the world and will help you with your police certificate and immigration application thoroughly.
It is essential that you apply for the certificate at the right time, with the right authority and that the certificate contains the correct information.
Need to give a language test for your immigration application? Learn more about CELIP and IELTS.