If you’re using the Express Entry system to apply for permanent residency in Canada, you will be required to submit a Police Clearance Certificate from your current country of residence. This is to ensure that you don’t have a record of criminal offenses that would make you ineligible for admission to Canada. All applications for permanent residency require a PCC, and you may be asked to provide one for short-term visitor visas, such as a student or temporary work visa.
What is a Police Clearance Certificate?
A Police Clearance Certificate is an official summary of your criminal record or lack thereof. It will be issued by a passport office, police department, or other government authority, and there may be a different process to get one depending on where you live and have traveled.
You’ll typically have to provide a PCC for your country of residence or origin, and any country in which you’ve lived for six months or more at any point during the last 10 years.
In some countries, a police certificate may be known as a “good conduct certificate” or “judicial record extract,” or by another similar name. For example, in the U.S., you’d request an Identity History Summary from the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation).
PCCs may be issued by local, state, or federal authorities. In India, you can request a police certificate online from the Passport office or at your local police station if you are a resident of Delhi. Use this tool to look up the application process for other countries.
You should request a PCC from any country that you’ve traveled or resided in for longer than 6 months – even if it was not 6 months in a row, and even if there is no official record of your visit, such as a permanent address or history of employment. Your visa application may be denied if you don’t submit the proper PCCs. If your certificate is not in English or French, you’ll need to submit a translation along with the original document.
Why You Need a PCC For Canadian Immigration
Canada has strict guidelines on who may and may not enter the country. While having a police record is not automatically grounds for denial of a visa, some criminal activities are taken very seriously by the Canadian immigration authorities, including:
- War crimes
- Organized crime (people smuggling or money laundering)
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
Having any misdemeanor or felony convictions on your record may impact your ability to obtain a visa. Traffic tickets and other minor violations won’t generally be an issue, but if you have any concerns about the information on your police report, check with an immigration lawyer.
Who Can Submit for a PCC
Permanent or temporary residents of any country can typically request a police certificate for a small fee. Many countries have an online form where you can submit your request. You may be asked to provide identifying documents, including photographs or fingerprints, as well as details such as the dates and locations where you lived in the country.
If any of the countries you lived in are unable to provide a PCC, you can submit documentation showing your attempts to acquire a PCC. However, this should only be a last resort, and it may not be sufficient to be granted a visa if it leaves a significant gap in your travel history.
You’ll also need to submit a PCC for any spouse or family member who is applying with you, including any dependents 18 years of age or older. You don’t typically need to submit police certificates from countries you lived in before you were 18, or for travel to Canada.
Some countries may require you to have a letter from the Canadian authorities to request your certificate for immigration purposes. If that’s the case, there will be a field in your Express Entry application to note this requirement and you’ll receive a follow up from IRCC.
Where To Get One
The application process will depend on which country you’re requesting a PCC for. You may be able to request a PCC online or by mail, or by visiting a consulate or other in-person location.
In the U.S., you can begin the process online, but you must get your fingerprints taken and mail them along with your confirmation email. Applications are processed within 3-5 days if you start the process online, or more than 60 days if you do it entirely by mail. You’ll complete the same process regardless of whether or you are a citizen or a former or temporary resident.
In India, you can also begin the process of immigrating to Canada from India online but will need to schedule an appointment at your local passport office or Indian consulate (if you are currently living outside the country). This can take a week or more, so it’s best to plan ahead. You will need to show your passport and other identifying documents, such as proof of residence or employment.
If you live in Delhi, you can submit your request through the Delhi police website. Instead of an appointment at your regional passport office, the local police will visit you at your home to check your identity and complete the application process. If all of your documents are in order, you’ll receive a copy of your police certificate within 21 days at the email address you provide.
Other countries may have a different process for requesting a PCC, so it’s a good idea to make a list of which countries you’ll need a PCC for, along with the fees and processing times.
Documents Required for PCC
The documents you need to submit will vary depending on which country you’re requesting a PCC from and your current residency status. In India, your passport will be sufficient to prove your identity if the address on it is your current residential address. Otherwise, you’ll have to show proof of your current address in the form of a utility bill or bank statement.
If you’re applying for a police certificate from the U.K., you’ll need to submit a color copy of your passport, a photograph that will be attached to the certificate, and proof of your current address. If you’re applying for a PCC from Australia, you’ll have to request a national police certificate as well as a state-specific report if you had a driver’s license in Queensland or Victoria. In some countries, such as the U.S., you may also have to provide fingerprints.
How Long Does a PCC Last?
A PCC is usually valid for one year from the date of issue, but you’ll need to provide a PCC that was issued within the past 6 months from your current country of residence.
For countries that you lived in or traveled in for more than 6 months, you’ll need a certificate that was issued after your most recent visit of 6 months or longer. It may still be accepted even after its expiration date, so long as it is not your current country of residence.
Because the processing time for PCCs can vary widely, it’s best to ensure that they are all valid and up-to-date at the time you intend to apply for your visa. If you’ve submitted your profile to the Canada Express Entry system, it’s probably a good time to begin requesting your PCCs.
You’ll only have 60 days to provide your completed application, including police certificates, from the date you’re invited to apply for PR through the Express Entry system. If you don’t have them by then, you can either:
- Decline to apply and be returned to the pool of applicants. You may or may not receive another invitation to apply at a later date.
- Provide proof that you’ve attempted to get a police certificate, such as a payment receipt or tracking number. However, this is only accepted in limited circumstances.
In some cases, you may be asked to provide additional police certificates after you’ve submitted your application. For example, if you’ve lived in a country for less than 6 months in a row, but for more than 6 months in total, the application will not ask for a PCC but an immigration agent may request one at their discretion. This is why you should be prepared to obtain a PCC from any countries you’ve visited frequently, even if you were not officially a resident.
We Can Help
Requesting a police check can be a stressful process, particularly if you’ve moved or traveled often and don’t know which countries you should obtain a report from. If you’re unsure whether you’ll need a report from a particular country, or are having trouble figuring when and where to request one, just reach out to us and we can help you out.
In most cases, obtaining a police check will be just another step in the application process. As long as you don’t have any serious infractions on your record, then a standard police certificate will be sufficient and you won’t have to follow up with any additional reports or information.