Can I Enter Canada If I Have a DUI?

entering Canada with a DUIAlthough you might have completed the required documents and satisfied the requirements to be admitted to Canada, you may still be declined because of previous criminal conduct. You might also be denied if any of your dependents have been charged with criminal behavior. Those with a DUI conviction may have an even more difficult time.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Charge

Drunk driving charges may be called different things across the globe, but they can all create potential trouble for anyone including not being able to enter Canada. Charges related to drunk driving which can contribute to being criminally inadmissible are (but not limited to):

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Driving While Impaired (DWI)
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
  • Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated (OMVI)
  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)
  • Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI)

Americans need to know that Canadian immigration laws don’t follow the felony and misdemeanor system. The country considers the following instead:

  • summary offenses for quite minor charges
  • indictment offenses for more severe charges
  • hybrid offense – violation may be minor or serious depending on its context

It is futile to determine if you are criminally inadmissible outside of Canadian laws. You must consider whether your offense in their system falls under the categories of summary, indictment or hybrid offense.

You can fight or overcome criminal inadmissibility through a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation.

Temporary Resident Permit or (TRP)

As the name indicates, a TRP will grant you to admission to Canada for a purpose. Since TRPs permit individuals otherwise not allowed to enter Canada, you need to explain in your application what the visit is for.

It is also important not to confuse Temporary Resident Permit Canada (TRP) with Temporary Resident Visas (TRV)/Canadian Visitor Visa. As mentioned, people may be prevented to enter Canada because of their previous criminal charges. While driving under the influence or DUI can be considered a minor offense, Canadian laws work slightly different. They can still prohibit someone from entering the country.

The TRP gives the person traveling to Canada with DUI a chance to overcome their restrictions for a specified time. You need to complete the application to demonstrate that you have a significant reason for entering the country.

Take note that people who are criminally inadmissible to the country are also unacceptable for study, work and visitation purposes. Similarly, they also cannot apply for a Canadian permanent residence. As the permit is also just temporary, it can be used to apply as a foreign visitor, international student or foreign worker.

You will need your Temporary Resident Permit in Canada so long as you are criminally inadmissible. You can get your criminal inadmissibility removed by applying for a deemed criminal rehabilitation process. More importantly, take note that if you are eligible for criminal rehabilitation and you have not applied entry in Canada then you must accomplish both a Criminal Rehabilitation and TRP applications.

You can apply for the TRP at a port of entry or through a Canadian visa office. The Canadian office recommends that individuals apply as early as possible if they think they are inadmissible to the country.

Criminal Rehabilitation

For you to qualify for Criminal Rehabilitation, you should have completed your DUI sentence and five years have elapsed since its completion. The same is applicable for serious indictment offenses such as a weapon or bodily harm charge.

There are many complications you can run into if you are flying into Canada with a DUI. Nonetheless, it’s not impossible to work your way around this.  The following sections provide a more in-depth look on DUI charges and criminal inadmissibility.

More specifically, here are the following criteria to be eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation:

  1. You committed a criminal offense outside of Canada, and it would be equivalent to a crime under a Federal statute.
  2. You should have admitted committing the offense or been convicted of it.
  3. It should have been five years since the sentences or the full sentence were done. These include probation, fines and jail time.

In all of this, the most important thing to do is to find the equivalent offense of your charge in Canada. The gravity of the offense in the jurisdiction where it was adjudged does not matter. What will matter is its gravity under the federal criminal code of Canada. Once you find the equivalent offense, you can determine its maximum sentence including the corresponding criminal rehabilitation process and period.

If you got a non-serious offense conviction and more than ten years have elapsed since the completion of your sentence, then you can be “Deemed Rehabilitated.” You do not need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation.

Non-Serious Charges

If you have not reached past ten years since completion of your sentence or your record has more than one conviction, and you want to immigrate to, visit or work in Canada, then you need to apply for criminal rehabilitation. More than  tenyears automatically qualifies you as “Deemed Rehabilitated” because of the passing of time. But, you need to apply even if it has been ten years if you have more than one conviction. Non-serious criminality-related applications usually get processed faster. Processing fees are also lower.

Serious Charges

The same process applies for severe and non-serious criminality. However, processing of the application itself at a Canadian visa office is what separates the two. Admittedly, it is more expensive and longer to process serious criminality-related applications for Criminal Rehabilitation.

Traveling to Canada with a DUI can bring a lot of complications, but they can be addressed. Knowing your way through the system will help you overcome the restrictions. More importantly, consulting a good immigration lawyer on the matter will also make your life easier.