Whatever your reasons for coming to Canada, you need to know that prior legal convictions can keep you from crossing the border. Whether you are traveling for school, work, or leisure, you should be aware of the requirements for crossing the border. It is important to review your record in advance so you can address any issues and prevent being denied admission to the country.
A good place to start is reviewing the information in this article to see if criminal inadmissibility might interfere with your travel plans. If any of the following scenarios applies to you, be sure to consult a Canadian immigration lawyer who specializes in criminality about the particulars of your case.
DUI and Other Offenses
Even minor convictions from several years ago may render you criminally inadmissible to Canada. The most common offense is a driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).
DUI convictions have barred an increasing number of travelers from entering Canada (particularly those from the United States) due to joint information-sharing initiatives between Canada and the U.S. Every year in the United States one million people are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Americans who are turned away at the Canadian border because of a DUI are often shocked to learn that an incident from their past is denying them entry to Canada.
Drunk driving offenses sometimes go by different names, but all of them will make you criminally inadmissible to Canada:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
- Driving While Impaired (DWI)
- Operating Under the Influence (OUI)
- Wet and Reckless (W&R)
- Driving without Due Care and Attention
- Reckless Driving
Canadian law is supported by strict regulation, which means foreign travelers can be turned away for a number of criminal infractions. It is important to determine whether your prior convictions will render you criminally inadmissible to Canada well ahead of travel plans.
Foreign nationals with criminal charges – like a DUI – on their record may have differing options regarding entry to Canada, depending on:
- Type and number of offense(s)
- Severity of the offense(s)
- When the sentences, fines and probationary periods were retired
Canadian immigration officials will assess any foreign offenses according to the severity of corresponding charges in the Canadian criminal code. Therefore, be prepared for the possibility that a relatively minor offense in your country might weigh more heavily under Canadian law.
Access Canada with a DUI Conviction
Foreigners with a drunk driving charge may pursue any of the following options to gain entry to Canada:
- Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) – Issued at the Visa Office
- Grants temporary admission to Canada for any length of time up to three years.
- Allow at least 3 – 12 months for your permit to be processed, as times vary depending on the visa office.
- Temporary Resident Permit – Issued at the Border
- Issued only in emergencies or otherwise persuasive circumstances.
- It is wise to speak with a DUI Canada entry lawyer before attempting
- Permanent Criminal Rehabilitation
- Apply for criminal rehabilitation if you wish to redress your criminal inadmissibility permanently.
- You must have completed your most recent sentence at least five years ago to be eligible.
- Apply well in advance of your travels, as your application may take more than a year to process. You may apply for a TRP while awaiting the results of your criminal rehabilitation application.
- Even if you have successfully undergone a domestic legal procedure for resolving your criminal inadmissibility to Canada, you must bring proper documentation (such as a legal opinion) to confirm your rectified status with border officials.
- Deemed Rehabilitation
- If more than 10 years have elapsed since sentence completion for a single DUI conviction, you may be “deemed rehabilitated”.
- Conditions for deemed rehabilitation are not always clear, so you should consult a lawyer to assess your circumstances.
Other Important Advice from a Canadian Immigration Lawyer
A DUI, or other conviction, may render you criminally inadmissible to Canada. However, rest assured that you have multiple options of remedy. If you wish to travel or relocate to Canada but have past convictions on your record, you should seek qualified legal counsel. A skilled Canadian immigration lawyer can carefully review your case history to ensure that you will not have any problems entering Canada.