Canada is an open country but it has strict rules at its borders. A criminal conviction can make you inadmissible to Canada. A single conviction for driving under the influence could result in you being denied entry into Canada.
This is due to Canada’s strict laws regarding driving under the influence (DUI). These laws were strengthened in Canada when marijuana legalization was implemented in 2018. A DUI conviction can result in a doubled sentence, with the maximum term of imprisonment increasing from five to ten years. This was done to prevent Canadians from driving impaired. DUI does not apply to alcohol only, but also to cannabis and any other substances that are known to cause impairment.
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To be admitted to Canada, all travelers from the U.S. have to show an American passport or another U.S. travel document. An FBI background record can be linked to your American passport. This report may include past or current DUIs. Even though the driving under the Influence conviction was many years old, it could still be on your criminal record and cause problems when you try to enter Canada.
To avoid surprises at the Canadian border, it is strongly recommended that you plan ahead if you are a U.S. Tourist with a criminal history. It is always a good idea to speak with an immigration lawyer in Canada about your status and possible entry options.
What is the best way to visit Canada if I have a DUI?
There are many options available to overcome inadmissibility for travelers with a history of DUI.
Temporary Resident Permit
You must apply for a Temporary Resident Permit to enter Canada if it has been less five years since the DUI sentence was completed. A temporary waiver of inadmissibility, the TRP allows someone who is normally inadmissible to Canada to be admitted to Canada. The TRP can be valid up to three years after approval.
To be granted a TRP you must have strong reasons to come to Canada. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada must ensure that the applicant is not a danger to Canadian society. It is important that the applicant can show how their visit will benefit Canada and Canadians. People should submit a compelling and well-prepared TRP application package, as processing can be subjective.
You may be eligible for criminal rehabilitation if your sentence was served more than five years ago, but less that 10 years. The applicant who is granted a visa will be able to enter Canada with a clean slate. The previous conviction will not be an obstacle. The traveler can now enter Canada and leave Canada, provided they have not committed another offense.
A person who has served a DUI sentence for 10 years or more could be considered inadmissible simply because they have been rehabilitated. This would allow them to travel to Canada. This is only possible if a person has one non-serious conviction. To enter Canada, you will need to apply for criminal rehabilitation if you have more than one conviction.
Legal Opinion Letter
You should not be denied entry to Canada if you are facing a DUI charge with no criminal record. These situations are up to the discretion of Canadian immigration officers, who will weigh the risks and benefits of allowing entry. Canadian law applies to you when you attempt to enter Canada. If you have a pending case, a Canadian immigration lawyer may be able to provide a Legal Opinion Letter. The lawyer will explain all relevant facts and why you should be allowed to enter Canada.
Canada has strict rules regarding foreigners with criminal history. Security of Canada and its citizens is a top priority, especially at Canadian border crossings. It is possible to enter Canada without being denied entry if you have a thorough understanding and knowledge of criminality issues.