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Can You Go to Canada With a DUI?

Did you know that a DUI can prevent you from entering Canada? Even if you have a DUI, DWI, or a reckless driving charge from decades in the past, you still might have trouble crossing the border into Canada. This is because of an immigration principle known as criminal inadmissibility.

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What is Inadmissibility

Inadmissibility means that a person is thought to be a danger to public safety if they were to enter Canada. If a person is deemed to be inadmissible, they will likely be denied entry to Canada.

Inadmissibility can cause headaches at the border for business travellers and people who have offenses on their record from many years in the past. This includes drunk driving offenses like DUIs.

In order for an offense to make a person inadmissible, there must be an equivalent law in Canada to the one committed in another country. For DUIs the equivalent law is found in Section 253 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Banned From Canada Forever?

You might be asking yourself, “how can I enter Canada with a DUI?”. Luckily there are ways to overcome inadmissibility. There are multiple options that will allow you to travel to Canada with a DUI.

The first one is a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). If it has been less than 5 years since you have completed all terms of your sentence, or you have more than one DUI conviction, you can apply for this permit. It will allow you to legally enter Canada for a predetermined amount of time.

However, as part of a TRP application, you must prove that your presence in Canada has more benefits than risks. Therefore, it is often only issued to people travelling to the country for business that will benefit Canadians. A TRP is a great option if you have a DUI but need to travel to Canada for business.

Another, more permanent, option is Criminal Rehabilitation. This option will wipe your criminal record clean for Canadian immigration purposes. If 5 years or more have passed since you completed all terms of your sentence, you can apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. In this application, you must show that you have turned your life around and are unlikely to commit another offense.

It might be possible that you do not even to apply to receive Criminal Rehabilitation. If it has been at least 10 years since you’ve completed the terms of your sentence, and you only have one DUI conviction, then you may have received “deemed rehabilitation”. This means that your record has been cleared by the passage of time. If this case applies to you, it may be in your best interests to get a legal opinion letter from a Canadian immigration lawyer to give border officers some proof that you are not inadmissible.

Unlike TRP applications, you do not have to prove that your trip to Canada will bring a tangible benefit to Canada for Criminal Rehabilitation

New Canadian DUI Laws

Keep in mind that Canadian DUI laws have recently been updated. Now, impaired driving is  a “serious offence”. Because of this, DUIs committed after the new law takes effect will not be eligible for deemed rehabilitation. It will still be possible to receive a TRP or apply for rehabilitation.

Who Can Help?

Overcoming a DUI charge for Canadian immigration purposes can be quite complicated. That is why we recommend that you hire a Canadian immigration lawyer to assist you in the process. The Canadim Team offers TRP, Criminal Rehabilitation, and legal opinion letter services. If you would like more information on any of these, please contact us for more information!

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The Canadim Team!


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