Have you been convicted of a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)? Your DUI conviction can make you “criminally inadmissible to Canada,” even if your conviction was more than ten years ago. This means that if you want to get into Canada from the US or any other country with a DUI or DWI conviction, you are more likely to be denied entry.
This inadmissibility applies as well to felonies, misdemeanors, and other criminal convictions, all of which may keep you from setting foot on Canada.
Tell the truth
In nearly all instances, Canadian border authorities can investigate if you have any criminal record when they verify your passport. It’s part of an agreement between the US and Canada to share information.
When you reach the Canadian border, you will be asked by immigration authorities if you have a criminal record. Answer truthfully. Remember that even minor offenses count and lying to border officials is considered a federal crime. It is, however, up to the official to decide whether to let you in or to deny you entry.
Temporary and permanent solutions
Temporary Resident Permit
If you are not permitted to enter Canada by officials at the border, there are other ways to solve your problem. If your DUI sentence was competed less than five years ago, you can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) to be granted entry into Canada. A TRP is a temporary document that will allow you to enter Canada as long as you have a legal and valid reason. You must apply for a new permit each time you enter Canada.
A TRP application can be made at the country’s land or sea border, or at the airport customs. You can also apply for a TRP at the Canadian consulate in your country of origin.
The cost of applying for a Temporary Resident Permit is about $200 Canadian Dollars. If approved, you may be allowed entry into Canada multiple times for up to three years.
TRP applications may take months to process. To increase your chances of being approved, seek the assistance of a skilled lawyer to help you gather and file all your relevant documents in advance.
Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation provides a more permanent solution if you plan on staying longer in Canada. You must have completed all conditions of your DUI sentence. That completion date must be five years old or older. You should apply for this option long before leaving to enter Canada. Processing time for this application can take 12 months or more and can cost anywhere from $200 to $1,000, depending on the seriousness of your offense.
The upside of being approved, however, is you will be allowed permanent entry into Canada without the need to apply for another TRP, even if you’ve had a previous DUI record.
When you apply for Criminal Rehabilitation, you will be required to furnish certificates of your criminal record from every state you’ve resided in for over six months since you were 18 years old. Both home and work addresses, including the dates you’ve lived and worked there, will also be required by Canadian immigration authorities.
Apart from the cost of the TRP application fee ($200) and the cost of a criminal rehabilitation application ($200 to $1,000), you may need to prepare for the extra cost of hiring the services of a professional immigration attorney or consultant. They will charge you legal fees on top of the application fees mentioned above.
Previously, Canada granted “Deemed Rehabilitation” status to those with a DUI/DWI conviction over ten years old, allowing entry simply by the passage of time. That option no longer exists. Canada changed its Criminal Code in 2018 to make impaired driving a “serious offence.” It now considers any such activity in another country to be equally offensive or threatening to Canada.
Things to remember when entering Canada with a DUI or DWI
- A previous DUI, DWI, or other criminal convictions will make you “criminally inadmissible to Canada.”
- If a visitor’s visa is normally needed to get you into Canada, you will still have to secure one even if you have a TRP.
- If you’re not criminally rehabilitated, you’ll need to apply for a new TRP each time you travel to Canada
- You may not be assured of entry to Canada even if you are technically criminally rehabilitated. It is up to a border authority to allow or refuse entry to any non-Canadian citizen.
- Tell the border officer the truth when asked if you have a criminal record.
Find an experienced immigration attorney who understands Canadian travel restrictions
Both TRP and Criminal Rehabilitation involve highly complicated legal processes. You will require the services of a skilled immigration lawyer to help guide you through the entire process.
At Richards and Jurusik, we can help you overcome Canada inadmissibility problems. Contact us today at at 1-866-697-1832 to speak with a Canadian immigration attorney.