Canada DUI Entry: Can I visit Canada with a DUI? | Free Consultation


Table of Contents

  • Canada DUI Law as it Relates to Immigration
  • Types and Number of Offences
  • Possible Solutions for Canada DUI Entry
  • Can you Enter Canada 10 Years after your DUI Conviction?
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • About Cohen Immigration Law

Canada DUI Law as it Relates to Immigration

Under Canadian immigration law, any citation relating to the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol can render someone criminally inadmissible to Canada. The best way to address inadmissibility to Canada varies depending on a number of factors, including:

  • The number and type of offence(s);

  • When the sentencing for the offence(s) was completed; and

  • The severity of the offence(s).

Types and Number of Offences

Drunk driving charges are prosecuted under a variety of designations around the world. Examples of charges that can result from driving while impaired include:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

  • Driving While Impaired (DWI)

  • Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI)

  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)

  • Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated (OMVI)

  • Wet Reckless

  • Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Canada will examine your criminal record, which can include arrests, warrants, pending charges, and convictions. However, what matters most is not your crime(s) per se but rather how Canada understands it to translate into Canadian law.

They pay more attention to the equivalent crime in Canada. For example, an American citizen convicted of a misdemeanor-level drunk driving offence may still find themselves criminally inadmissible to Canada due to its equivalent in Canadian law.

Having more than one driving under the influence charge can significantly impact your ability to gain temporary access into Canada. Those who possess multiple charges or convictions can be deemed a higher risk for reoffending upon entry and be subject to higher scrutiny from a Canadian immigration officer.

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Possible Solutions for Canada DUI Entry

There are actually four different methods of entering Canada with a past DUI conviction.

  • Temporary Resident Permit (Consulate): This permit allows an individual to become temporarily admissible to Canada. Individuals whose most recent offence occurred less than five years ago may be eligible for a TRP. Requests for a TRP are processed at Canadian Visa Offices.

  • Temporary Resident Permit (Port of Entry): In certain urgent circumstances, a TRP can be issued at a Canadian port of entry, which can be any place staffed by a Canadian immigration officer or border agent.

  • Criminal Rehabilitation: This process allows an individual to permanently resolve their inadmissibility issue. Individuals who completed sentencing more than five years ago may be eligible for Permanent Rehabilitation.

  • Deemed Rehabilitation: If an individual received a single DUI conviction (prior to 2018), and more than 10 years have passed from the completion of his or her sentencing, he or she may be eligible to enter Canada without needing to go through the rehabilitation process.

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

Under Five Years Since Completion of DUI Sentence

If it has been less than five years since the completion of the DUI sentence, the individual must apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) in order to enter Canada legally. The TRP is a temporary waiver of inadmissibility (for up to a maximum of three years) that allows an individual who would otherwise be inadmissible to enter Canada to enter the country.

In order to be granted a TRP, the individual must have a reason for coming to Canada, and immigration authorities must not determine the individual is not a threat to Canadian society. Because this determination involves a subjective component, it is important for individuals to submit a well-prepared and compelling TRP application package.

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More than Five Years but Less than Ten Years Since Completion of DUI Sentence

If it has been more than five years, but less than 10 years, since completion of a sentence, an individual may be eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation after the five-year benchmark has been reached.

If the application is approved, he or she will have a clean slate and be eligible to enter Canada. There will no longer be any hindrances relating to the previous conviction(s), and the individual will be able to enter and leave Canada provided he or she doesn’t commit another offence, and complies with any applicable visa requirements.

In order to be considered criminally rehabilitated, it must be demonstrated that an inadmissible individual has ‘turned over a new leaf’ since the conviction(s), and is judged unlikely to reoffend. The approval of this application is dependent on the subjective assessment of immigration authorities. For this reason, applicants are well served to prepare an application that conforms to what Canadian authorities are looking for in a rehabilitated individual.

Ten Years or More Since Completion of DUI Sentence

If it has been 10 years or more since completion of a sentence, an inadmissible individual could be deemed rehabilitated simply as a result of the passage of time, and admitted to the country. This solution is only possible in cases where the individual has a single, non-serious conviction on his or her record.

However, it is possible for the individual to experience difficulties even in such a scenario. This potential obstacle is because border authorities have a significant amount of discretion in the exercise of their duties and, as a result, can refuse entry to individuals even though they are no longer inadmissible as a result of deemed rehabilitation.

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A legal opinion letter, written by an experienced Canadian immigration attorney, can be helpful in avoiding this unpleasant situation.

Can you Enter Canada 10 Years after your DUI Conviction?

Canada’s driving under the influence (DUI) laws changed in December of 2018. As a result, a DUI is now considered serious criminality.

Under the previous law, any DUI conviction was removed from a visitor’s record 10 years after the completion of their sentence, allowing them to be deemed rehabilitated to enter Canada. However, at this time it is not possible.

If you have received a DUI after December 18, 2018, then you will always need to apply for clearance into Canada prior to entering the country.

The Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) and Criminal Rehabilitation applications offer potential short and long-term solutions for past DUI convictions. Consulting with a Canadian immigration lawyer about which application best suits your current needs is always recommended.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>