Entering Canada with a DWI Conviction
Most foreign nationals are surprised to learn that a single DWI conviction (Driving While Impaired) can render them criminally inadmissible to Canada. Anyone arrested or convicted of DWI outside of Canada will be denied entry to Canada on that basis, until they rectify their inadmissible status.
Due to the close relationship between Canada and the United States, Americans are frequently refused entry to Canada with a DWI on their record. Approximately 1.4 million Americans are convicted of DWI each year.
Why will I be denied entry to Canada if I have a DWI conviction?
Given the commonplace nature of DWI infractions in the United States, some find it difficult to comprehend why Canada has taken this position.
Criminal inadmissibility to Canada due to DWI is a result of how severely that particular infraction is treated according to the Canadian Criminal Code.
Being criminally inadmissible to Canada because of a DWI is an unfortunate position that many good people find themselves in. Those who are criminally inadmissible to Canada because of DWI are prohibited from entering Canada for any reason, including transiting through Canada to reach other international destinations. Although this may seem harsh, the good news is that there are solutions to enter Canada with a DWI, including a process you can go through to shorten the 10-year ban.
How can I enter Canada with a DWI?
Your options for entering Canada with a DWI largely depend on how much time has passed since you completed your sentence. There are two general options to overcome your criminal inadmissibility to Canada. One option is to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) and the second is to go through Canada’s Criminal Rehabilitation process.
Option #1: Temporary Resident Permits (TRP):
If it’s been less than 5 years since you completed all sentences related to your DWI conviction, you will require a Temporary Resident Permit to enter Canada with a DWI. TRPs are typically only issued to those who can demonstrate a significant need to enter Canada. This may include work obligations, family commitments/connections, contributing to humanitarian interests, among other reasons. A Temporary Resident Permit can be valid for up to three years under Canadian immigration law. Once your TRP expires, you are generally still inadmissible to Canada and must either re-apply for a new TRP or you may apply for criminal rehabilitation if you are eligible.
It is important not to confuse a “Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)” with a “Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)”. If you are from a visa exempt country such as the United States, a Temporary Resident Permit is the document you will need to enter Canada with a DWI conviction. If you are from a country where citizens require a visa to enter Canada (i.e. Mexico, China, Brazil), then you will require both a TRV and TRP to enter Canada with a DWI.
Option #2: Criminal Rehabilitation Application Process
If more than 5 years has passed since you completed all sentences related to your DWI conviction, you may apply for what’s called “criminal rehabilitation”. Similar to a pardon, a criminal rehabilitation application is a process one goes through to have Canada forgive them for their past DWI conviction(s). Once you successfully undergo the criminal rehabilitation process, you are no longer considered criminally inadmissible to Canada and you will be treated as if it never happened.
Can I enter Canada with a DWI that occurred more than 10 years ago?
If more than 10 years has passed since you completed all sentences related to your DWI and it’s the only conviction you have on your record, you may be considered “deemed rehabilitated” under Canadian immigration law. Those who are deemed rehabilitated are no longer considered criminally inadmissible due to the amount of time that has passed. Even if you believe you are deemed rehabilitated, you may want to ensure you can prove this when you arrive in Canada.
For more information about how to enter Canada with a DWI, please contact our law firm @1-855-360-4333