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U.S. & Canada Immigration Blog


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duiCanada considers a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) conviction a criminal offence as it is punishable under the Criminal Code of Canada. If you have been charged with or convicted for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, regardless of whether the charge was a misdemeanor or felony, you may be criminally inadmissible to Canada, and prevented from entering Canada. It is imperative that you confirm your eligibility prior to arriving at a Canadian port-of-entry. It may also mean that you cannot apply for a work permit, study permit or any immigration related programs.

Obtaining permission to enter Canada with a DUI

In many cases, if you are reading this you have probably been charged with a DUI and wish to enter Canada. Unfortunately, getting into Canada with a DUI is not as simple as most people may think. To overcome a criminal inadmissibility, a person must first apply for special permission and be approved before making way to Canada. There are two ways in which a person may be able to overcome a criminal inadmissibility due to a DUI or DWI conviction.

Deemed Rehabilitated

If enough time has passed since the completion of the penalty which includes jail time, probation, reinstatement of license, and payment of fines, Canada will deem the individual ‘rehabilitated’ automatically. If it has been more than ten (10) years and the individual has been convicted of only one (1) DUI/DWI and no other criminal convictions on record, the person would be deemed rehabilitated, and no formal application is required to enter Canada. If however, the individual has two (2) or more driving under influence convictions, he or she may not be deemed rehabilitated by virtue of time and will be inadmissible to Canada without a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation. It is certainly recommended that even if you are deemed to be rehabilitated by the passage of time you consult with a professional to determine for certain your eligibility to enter Canada.

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

The first option to overcome a criminal inadmissibility is to apply for and obtain a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). A Temporary Resident Permit authorizes an individual to enter Canada for a specified period of time provided that they have a valid and strong enough reason to come to Canada. A TRP is certainly useful to those who have not yet been deemed rehabilitated or have an application from criminal rehabilitation still in process and require to enter Canada. It can be valid for a single entry or multiple entries to Canada during the validity period of the document. Temporary Resident Permits can take a while to obtain so we advise to apply well before the date of intended travel. In some cases TRP’s can be issued upon entry to Canada.

Criminal Rehabilitation (Permanent Solution)

A criminal rehabilitation application will allow a person to overcome a criminal inadmissibility permanently. It is a process by which a formal application is made to the appropriate authorities which is ultimately a request for forgiveness of a prior conviction such as a DUI or DWI. To be eligible to make an application for Criminal Rehabilitation at least five (5) years must pass since the completion of a penalty which includes jail time, probation, reinstatement of license, and payment of fines, driving courses, community service, probation, and any other conditions which may have been imposed. If and when approved, it allows an individual a fresh start and to enter Canada freely. Unlike a TRP which authorizes entry for a limited time, a Criminal Rehabilitation is permanent.

To increase your chances of being admitted to Canada, we recommend speaking with one of our knowledgeable immigration consultants or lawyers who can help you take the necessary steps. Our Canadian immigration consultants and lawyers are experienced in criminal inadmissibility issues and specialize in helping Americans who have been charged with a criminal offence.