Canada with DUI

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DUI Canada entry

Canadian immigration lawyer focused on Canada DUI entry from USA. We offer free comprehensive consultations (unlike most companies who demand a retainer before assessing your options).

Can You Go to Canada with a DUI?

Unfortunately, getting into Canada with a DUI is not as simple as showing up at the border with a valid United States passport. If you have ever been arrested or convicted for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, regardless of whether it was a misdemeanor or felony offense, you may be criminally inadmissible to Canada and denied entry. Even if you do not have any intention to drive while in the country, a DUI (including civil infractions and "physical control" violations) can cause you to get turned away at the border and can impede your eligibility across all Canadian immigration programs. There is also no presumption of innocence at the Canadian border, so even a DUI charge pending trial can result in a denial.

How to Obtain Permission to Enter Canada with DUI

Most people reading this want to learn how to get into Canada with a DUI as simply and easily as possible. To overcome criminal inadmissibility to Canada, a person must correctly apply for and then successfully receive permission from Canadian authorities to visit the country. Getting such permission to enter Canada can be a highly complex legal process that could easily overwhelm someone without professional assistance. Criminal inadmissibility to Canada as a result of a DUI or DWI can be overcome in two different ways:

Temporary Solution
The first option is a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP), which can allow a person with a DUI to enter or stay in Canada for a specific period of time provided they have a valid reason to visit. A Temporary Resident Permit can be extremely helpful for individuals who are not yet eligible for the permanent solution of Criminal Rehabilitation, and it is possible for a TRP to be valid for multiple visits for as long as three years provided the individual's application is strong enough. A Canada TRP can take a while to obtain, so it is best to apply well in advance of your intended travel date.

Permanent Solution
The second option is Criminal Rehabilitation (CR), which is an application process whereby a person petitions Canadian immigration authorities to forgive their prior DUI conviction forever. To be eligible to apply for Criminal Rehab, five years must have passed since the sentence was fully completed including payment of fines, community service, classes, probation, and any other conditions which may have been imposed by the court. Successfully completing the Rehabilitation process gives an individual a fresh start and can allow them to enter Canada freely again. Unlike a Temporary Resident Permit, which is only good for a fixed amount of time, Criminal Rehabilitation never needs to be renewed and can provide access to Canada for life. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, the peace of mind and convenience of being able to go to Canada any time without ever worrying about being denied entry for a DUI makes this solution especially attractive to eligible individuals.

Deemed Rehabilitation
An American may be "deemed rehabilitated" if they only have a single conviction that is not considered serious criminality in Canada and enough time has passed since completion of all sentencing including any probation. Prior to December 2018, if a visitor could prove it had been more than ten years since the sentence was finished, and he or she had no other arrest history, Canadian authorities may disregard an old DUI and grant the person entry into the country. This policy has since changed! As of December 2018, a DUI is a serious crime in Canada and such an offense no longer qualifies for automatic Deemed Rehabilitation after ten years. This significant change is due to the Government of Canada implementing tough new DUI laws that increased the maximum length of imprisonment to a decade. Consequently, impaired driving offenses are now considered too serious to qualify for Deemed Rehabilitation, and an American with a single DUI can now be denied entry at the Canadian border even if the incident happened more than ten years ago.

If an offense occurred before December 18th, 2018 (when the law changed) and it has been more than ten years, it may be possible to claim "grandfathered" Deemed Rehabilitation but you should always consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer to determine your eligibility. Now that impaired driving is considered a major crime in Canada, it is advisable that any American with a DUI, DWI, OWI, OVI, DWAI, wet reckless, or any other intoxicated driving arrest or conviction in their past speak with a professional about their admissibility before attempting to enter Canada. If you have two or more drunk driving violations or other excludable criminal convictions on your record, you will likely never be deemed rehabilitated by virtue of time and may be refused entry at the Canadian border without a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation even 20+ years later.

To maximize your likelihood of getting into Canada with a DUI, it is important to consult with an experienced Canadian immigration lawyer who can help you take the necessary steps before and during your application to have the highest possible chance of being approved. Why risk having to explain to friends, family, or co-workers that you were denied entry to Canada? Our Canadian immigration attorney has extensive experience helping Americans overcome criminal inadmissibility issues so that they can successfully travel to Canada with a DUI or similar offense in their past. Let us take care of the hard work for you; we are excellent at this! Contact our team today for a free consultation!

Coronavirus Update (April 5th 2021)

Due to COVID-19, the Canadian border is currently closed to all non-essential traffic until April 21st 2021. It is possible that border restrictions will be extended beyond this date! Americans may travel to Canada for essential reasons such as work or school. Examples of essential business travelers include truck drivers, merchant mariners, flight crew such as pilots and flight attendants, medical professionals such as doctors and nurses, individuals holding a valid Work Permit, and experts providing critical infrastructure support or important economic or supply chain services. Travelers entering Canada may be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival at the border, and proof of a recent negative COVID test result may also be required of some visitors.

US citizens and Green Card holders may now visit immediate family in Canada, and may cross the border to see their Canadian girlfriend or boyfriend if they have been in a serious relationship for at least one year (adequate supporting documentation should be brought to the border). Americans driving through Canada to or from Alaska are not permitted to make unnecessary stops along their way and are limited to a few border crossings in Western Canada. The Canadian consulate is still active and accepting applications for special permission to enter Canada with a DUI. Our Canadian immigration law firm is also open and offering free consultations! CNBC has recently reported that authorities are considering relaxing COVID-19 travel restrictions at the border beginning in May 2021.

Why Exactly Does Canada Deny Entry to People with a DUI?

In Canada, indictable offenses are considered serious criminality (similar to a US felony) while summary offenses are considered less serious (similar to a US misdemeanor). If an American wants to visit Canada but has ever committed an act that could be considered an indictable offense in Canada, they may be classified as criminally inadmissible. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a hybrid offense in Canada, which means it can constitute a summary offense or an indictable offense depending on the situation and how the prosecutor wishes to proceed. Although most DUIs on Canadian soil are only summary offenses, the potential for one to be indictable makes driving under the influence a potentially excludable act for foreign nationals. In a nutshell, because a misdemeanor DUI from the United States equates to an offense north of the border that could be considered serious, Canadian border agents treat a US DUI as a serious crime.

Many Americans are shocked to learn how difficult entry into Canada with DUI charges can be. The Canadian border now has full access to the FBI criminal database via the country's CPIC database, which is operated by the RCMP and interfaced with the United States National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Consequently, a traveler can be instantly red-flagged for a DUI or DWI as soon as they present their US passport at border security. In fact, even a DUI arrest with no conviction (including an acquittal or not guilty verdict) can cause a US resident to be rejected at the Canadian border since the original arrest will still be visible to border officers and the visitor may need to prove his or her admissibility.

Legal Basis for Denying Americans That Have a DUI

Section 36 of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) says that foreign citizens are criminally inadmissible to the country upon "having been convicted outside Canada of an offense that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable offense under an Act of Parliament." IRPA 36 3a then specifies "an offense that may be prosecuted either summarily or by way of indictment is deemed to be an indictable offense." This allows Canada to keep out foreign nationals who have been convicted of a potentially indictable offense such as felony assault, fraud, or drug trafficking, but also allows them to deny entry to people convicted of a misdemeanor for driving while impaired. For this reason, many Americans are stuck researching DUI Canada entry on the Internet only to learn one of the inherent consequences of a having a criminal history for drunk driving can be inadmissibility to Canada without Rehabilitation or a TRP.

Since Canadian immigration regulations view DUIs as serious offenses, a single impaired driving incident in the United States can bar a person from visiting Canada forever regardless of how inconsequential it was in the state it happened. If a DUI charge was reduced to wet reckless driving, which is common in California and a few other states, the offense will typically still equate to a full DUI in Canada since impairment was involved. Even after pleading a DUI down to a more minor charge such as dangerous or reckless driving (with no mention of alcohol in the statute), an American may still not be eligible to cross the Canadian border without risk of an entrance denial. This is because the Canadian equivalency of a dry reckless driving conviction can be "dangerous operation" which is a serious crime punishable by as long as ten years in prison. Even civil DUI infractions, such as DWAI in New York or OWI in Wisconsin, can block an American citizen from visiting Canada despite being a traffic violation not a criminal conviction.

Can You Go to Canada If You Have a DUI Charge Pending?

When determining eligibility to travel to Canada with a DUI arrest, it is not the seriousness of the charge in the USA that matters; it is what the possible crime equates to under Canadian law. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is the legislation that determines whether entry into Canada for a non-Canadian may be denied on grounds of inadmissibility. According to this Act, a pending DUI charge is treated as "under indictment" and potentially excludes a US citizen from entering. At the end of the day, the onus is always on a visitor to be able to prove his or her admissibility when challenged by a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer. Once a person is arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, until they have adequate proof there is a 0% chance they will ever be convicted, such as evidence of a dismissal, they could face big problems if they try to enter Canada.

Even a reduced DUI charge does not guarantee smooth sailing when entering Canada. The reduction of charges from drinking and driving to some lesser charge such as reckless driving can still cause you to be denied entry at the Canadian border even though the plea agreement reduced the severity considerably. This is because dangerous operation, even with the absence of impairment, is also a serious crime north of the border. If you have any criminal record at all; a bounced check, possession of a controlled substance, disorderly conduct, a fishing or hunting violation, domestic violence, even some types of marijuana possession offenses, getting admitted to Canada may require a substantial amount of preparation. If your misdemeanor DUI charge was dismissed or you were found not guilty, documented proof of the favorable status may help facilitate a successful border crossing but a qualified Canadian immigration attorney should always be consulted.

Can You Enter Canada with a DUI If You Will Not Be Driving?

A US citizen with an impaired driving record can still be stopped from crossing the border into Canada even if they will not be operating a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, RV, boat, or any other motor vehicle during their visit. Some people with a DUI history think that if they fly into Canada, and do not intend to drive while in the country, they will be granted entry without a problem. Canadian immigration regulations do not distinguish whether a person intends to drive while visiting or not. Consequently, Americans may require Criminal Rehabilitation or a TRP in order to successfully travel to Canada with a DUI conviction, regardless of their intended transportation plans once in the country.

Likewise, some Americans with a DUI think they are allowed to drive across the border as long as they are only a passenger in the vehicle and not the driver. Again, a visitor's method of travel has no effect on their admissibility according to Canadian law. Even if a friend, family member, or co-worker will be doing all the driving, or you plan to rely solely on Uber or public transit, if you are inadmissible to Canada because of a DUI there is a substantial chance border security will forbid you from entering. Our legal team has literally spoken to hundreds of US citizens that were denied entry due to a past DUI or DWI despite being a passenger in the vehicle with no intent to ever drive while in Canada. Please be warned: if you inadmissible due to a DUI conviction, traveling to Canada by car can be extremely risky even if you are not the person driving.

Some also believe that you can enter into Canada with a criminal history as long as you do not disclose it at the border. This is absolutely false, as the Canadian border has unlimited access to US criminal databases and a past charge or conviction can instantly flag a visitor upon arrival. It is wise to always be honest and forthcoming with border authorities, as attempting to mislead immigration officials can lead to serious consequences such as being banned from crossing the border for several years. A DUI charge or conviction from the USA can cause a traveler to be turned back at a land border crossing or detained and flown home upon landing at an airport in Canada, regardless of how long the visitor plans to stay in the country. Even for a short visit of less than 24 hours, such as a quick business trip, border security can still block a foreign national from coming into Canada because of a past misdemeanor.

Can I Get Into Canada with a DUI for Drugs (No Alcohol)?

A DUI in the USA does not have to be alcohol-related in order for Canada's border security officers to deny entry for criminality. Going to Canada with a DUI drugs (DUID) can be as difficult as crossing the border with a DUI alcohol. Above the border, it is against the law to operate a vehicle while impaired by any legal or illegal drug, just as it can be against the law to drive after drinking beer, wine, or liquor.

Americans are frequently charged with driving while intoxicated because they were on prescription medication such as painkillers or "stoned" from consuming marijuana. You can be charged for driving under the influence of drugs regardless of whether or not the drug is legal. Even if you have been prescribed medicine by a doctor, if the substance "could affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person as to impair" it is illegal across North America to be operating a motor vehicle while on it. Consequently, it is possible to get a DUI by driving while on prescribed drugs that can impair, and a criminal conviction of this type can mean a person is no longer welcome in Canada without special permission.

Does It Matter Which State the DUI Occurred?

One of the major reasons why many United States residents seek assistance from an experienced immigration lawyer before trying to enter Canada with a DWI is to determine the exact criminal equivalency and excludability of their specific offense. The procedure for finding equivalency was determined by the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal, which held that the essential elements must be determined by the precise statutory words used. Since DUI laws (including underage DUI laws) and the precise wording of each statute vary from state to state, the Canadian admissibility of an individual can also depend on the US state in which their offense happened. The precise wording of acquittal documents, absolute discharge or conditional discharge documents, criminal diversion documents, deferred adjudication documents, expungement / dismissal documents, or pardon documents can also vary from state to state. The exact details of a deferred disposition (suspended sentence) or adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) can vary by region as well.

The Canadian equivalent of other driving violations an individual may have pleaded their first DUI charge down to, such as dangerous or reckless driving, can also vary at a state or county level. Other violations that are often added to impaired driving charges can further complicate matters. Examples include driving with a suspended license, no car insurance, damage to property, leaving the scene of an accident, speeding, or refusing a breathalyzer, chemical test, or blood test. Violating civil traffic laws can also have an impact on admissibility to Canada, despite being a traffic infraction not a misdemeanor conviction. If you are concerned you might be criminally ineligible for international travel, it may be smart to consult with a licensed immigration attorney in Canada about your particular situation.

Our legal team has assisted hundreds of US citizens and Green Card holders from dozens of states with Canada DUI entry. Concentrating on helping Americans travel to Canada with a DUI, our Canadian immigration lawyer is licensed and qualified to provide legal assistance to residents of all 50 states including Alaska (AK), Arizona (AZ), California (CA), Colorado (CO), Florida (FL), Michigan (MI), Minnesota (MN), New York (NY), Ohio (OH), Texas (TX), Washington (WA), and Wisconsin (WI). Not only do we accept clients from every US state, we are also familiar with the DUI laws in many of these states as well as how to order a state-level criminal history report in each. The exact process of retrieving all the documents required for a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation application can differ by state and county, so a seasoned professional can offer enormous value. Our team of experts can help make crossing the border into Canada with a DUI as easy as possible!

Will the People I Am Traveling With Find Out I Have a DUI?

Entering into Canada with a DUI first offense is stressful enough by itself, but worrying that bosses, co-workers, employees, business partners, girlfriends/boyfriends, or other people traveling alongside you will learn about your impaired driving charge at the border can be intensely disconcerting. Most people flying into Canada for business are traveling with at least one other person that they work with, and chances are this individual is not aware that their co-worker has a criminal record. The good news is that in many circumstances it may be possible to keep your DUI a secret from a boss or co-worker even when entering Canada with them.

The easiest scenario in which to keep your DUI private from those you are traveling with is to procure a Canada Temporary Resident Permit or Rehabilitation prior to your date of travel. A TRP may be obtained in advance of a trip to Canada, and once a person has a valid waiver in their possession it is notably easier to cross the border discreetly. If a TRP application is sent to an appropriate Canadian consulate in anticipation of future travel, the reviewing officer will have more time to inspect the file, and if a person is approved they will ordinarily be able to traverse the border with minimal delays and in many situations without ever having to mention their criminal history. Applying for a TRP via a Canadian visa office commonly takes three to four months for government processing, however, which is too far in advance for many Americans interested in getting into Canada with a DUI. Since some people, especially business travelers, are given at most a few weeks advance notice of a trip to Canada, their only option may be to apply for a TRP at a Port of Entry (POE) which is not ideal.

If there is not enough time to secure a Canadian Temporary Resident Permit in advance on travel, it could still be possible to keep a misdemeanor DWI a secret from co-workers as long as the person is flying into Canada and not driving across the border. Individuals presenting a TRP Canada application at the border will customarily be asked to proceed to secondary inspection for their file to be reviewed in detail. Consequently, the actual TRP evaluation and personal interview will likely be done far away from fellow passengers, so it is usually only the initial conversation when you disclose your DUI to the officer and present your TRP application that needs to be obscured from your boss or co-workers.

If you are flying to Canada, it can be remarkably easy to hide your DUI record from other visitors since people typically go through border control in airports as individuals unless they are traveling as a family. At almost every international airport in Canada, CBSA agents are spread out far enough apart that you will very likely be out of earshot of any co-workers when you announce your TRP application. Since visitors are routinely flagged for additional inspection, fellow travelers may not be overly suspicious as to why a co-worker disappeared for a while. The considerable amount of time it can take for a TRP application to be reviewed at the border may raise questions, however, so setting a plan to meet at the destination rather than have business associates wait at the airport may be wise. It is obviously also extremely important to have an excellent application, as flying to Canada with a DUI can be a disaster if someone is found to be criminally inadmissible and border agents are unwilling to issue them a Temporary Resident Permit.

If traveling by car, on the other hand, an American with a past DUI may have to present a TRP application to the border agent in front of their fellow passengers, so please take this into consideration when planning a trip. One technique to make the best of a bad situation is to quietly give your TRP application to the border guard when you first pull up and everyone hands over their passports, and in some cases you will be moved to secondary inspection without any mention of a DUI or criminal record. An American can require a TRP to overcome a previous overstay or because of a health problem, so notifying the officer that you have a TRP application without explicitly referencing criminal inadmissibility due to a DUI will not necessarily get the office rumor mill chattering.

If you need to go to Canada for work and your co-workers are driving, another strategy is to make up an excuse on why you will be traveling on your own and meeting them there. A family commitment or even an important doctor or dentist appointment could easily explain why an individual will be driving by themselves or flying to Canada instead. Fortunately, a majority of corporate travelers fly into Canada instead of driving, so keeping your criminal past a secret from your co-workers may be possible in many circumstances. Because we focus primarily on DUI and Canada entry, our legal team has a plethora of experience on how to keep a DUI a secret from work associates when entering Canada with a drinking and driving conviction. Phone us today to discuss how we can put this experience to work for you!

Refused Entry to Canada?

If you have already been denied entry to Canada because of a DUI conviction, it is very important to not return until legally able to do so. It is advisable in such circumstances to consult with a qualified Canadian immigration attorney to ascertain the best means of ensuring successful DUI entry into Canada in the future. If you attempt to enter via another Port of Entry without first addressing your DUI inadmissibility, denial is almost certain and an outright ban from Canada can result.

Once a US citizen has received an official refusal of entry to Canada because of a criminal record for driving drunk, it is advisable for them to consult with a Canadian immigration legal professional before attempting to cross the border again. Any form of perceived non-compliance can significantly reduce a person's odds of being granted permission for DUI entry in the future, so it is important not to make any rash decisions while still angry about being bounced at the border. In many cases, an individual denied entry to Canada is permitted to withdraw their application for admission officially. For more serious cases, Canadian border officials might issue a Section 44 Report and forward the case to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). There will then be an Admissibility Hearing in which a judge will determine if the Section 44 Report's allegations are true and if so a Removal Order may be given.

So who exactly is not permitted to enter Canada legally due to past criminality? According to Canada's Immigration Act, CBSA officers may deny admission to anyone recently convicted of driving while intoxicated (D.W.I.) or driving under the influence (D.U.I.). This is because a DWI or DUI from the United States can be equivalent to a potentially indictable offense in Canada (similar to a USA felony) that is punishable by a term of imprisonment up to ten years. Other criminal offenses that can cause someone to be denied entry to Canada include misdemeanor theft, assault, reckless driving, possession of stolen property, shoplifting, fraud, driving while license suspended, extortion, battery, domestic violence, and drug possession. Almost all felony convictions can render an American citizen inadmissible to Canada on grounds of criminality, and many white collar crimes can also affect a foreign national's Canadian excludability.

Traveling to Canada with a DUI

Some Americans may need the services of a qualified immigration professional to determine if they can legally enter Canada with a DUI record. Others may already know that they are criminally inadmissible but require help from an attorney to come up with a workable plan for how to cross the Canadian border successfully. Even if a person has no prior criminal history, a single misdemeanor DUI can now render a foreign national inadmissible to Canada for life. A criminal conviction for driving under the influence of alcoholic drinks does not necessarily mean a person will never be allowed to cross the border, however, it simply means they may require special governmental permission to travel to Canada with a DUI.

If a foreign citizen is inadmissible to Canada because of an arrest or conviction in their past, and he or she does not wish to avoid the nation, they have the option to prepare and file a Criminal Rehabilitation application if all sentencing has been finished for a minimum of five years. If approved for Rehabilitation, any past DUI convictions will no longer be an obstacle when going to Canada. If a person already has a trip planned and will be visiting soon, filing a TRP application may be acceptable. Canada Temporary Resident Permit eligibility and document requirements have recently changed. For example, applicants living in the USA should now include a fingerprint-based FBI Identity History Summary in their application package. Applicants should also provide evidence of an important reason for traveling, such as a business trip. This is one of the many reasons it may be important to work with an immigration lawyer familiar with the 2021 Canada DUI Entry rules (as well as any scheduled DUI Canada entry 2022 changes).

Visiting Canada with a DUI expungement, or after receiving a pardon or discharge for a crime, can still be tricky for American citizens. Occasionally, a state or county "pardons" or "discharges" a person's crime, or allows the record to be expunged after a period of time. This does not automatically mean the individual can enter Canada normally, however, and they should still contact a qualified legal professional to see how CBSA agents might view the pardon. In some cases, an expunged misdemeanor may be equivalent to a Record Suspension in the Great White North, but in other situations it might still be viewed as a conviction. Going to Canada with DUI charges visible on your background check can be problematic even without any convictions. At the end of the day, entering Canada with DUI charges is at the total discretion of border agents who consider a person's unique situation particularly how long ago the incident transpired, how the offense equates to Canadian law, as well as the party's reason for traveling to Canada.

The legality of DUI travel to Canada is the exact same regardless of what method of transportation is used, so flying into Canada with a DUI does not increase a person's probability of getting in compared to driving there. There is also no sex preferential since both males and females are equally capable of drinking and driving while visiting Canada. People who are denied a NEXUS card because of a DUI could find that the NEXUS refusal brings their criminal past to the attention of the Canadian border, which could lead to them being denied entry on their next visit. For this reason, any American who receives a NEXUS rejection due to a misdemeanor DUI should consult a qualified immigration lawyer before their next trip to Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, or any other Canadian city.

Can I Go to Canada with a DUI?

The most common question our law firm gets asked is can you get into Canada if you have a DUI? "It depends" is the correct answer, however, because it is impossible to accurately respond with a yes or no to generic questions like can you travel to Canada with a DUI since every situation is unique. In general, travel to Canada with DUI on your record is possible as long as you are not criminally inadmissible, but as explained above Canadian admissibility can be tricky to determine. Although these migration decrees can be bona fide annoying for folks with a USA DWI, always remember Canada is simply trying to keep out potentially objectionable tourists and visitors that pose a risk to their society and is not trying to punish inadmissible individuals personally for having made a blunder in life.

There are examples of people being denied entry even after participating in an expunging program, as well as the refusal of entry of individuals who have been officially pardoned by the local jurisdiction. Depending on the exact situation, it may be possible for an American to still be considered inadmissible to Canada even after their DUI conviction has been pardoned, sealed, or expunged. Although getting into Canada after a DUI expungement is often possible with the right documentation, not all United States expungements are considered non-convictions under Canadian law. Consequently, if you have ever been convicted of operating a motor vehicle while impaired, it is always advisable to speak with a lawyer before traveling to Canada even if it has been properly expunged.

In situations where a misdemeanor expungement is no longer treated as a conviction by Canada, a Legal Opinion Letter can help explain to the CBSA exactly why a person should be considered legally admissible to the country under Canadian law. It does not matter if a person is traveling with a tour group to see Niagara Falls from the Canadian side, attending a wedding in Toronto with their husband or wife, or going fishing or hunting in Canada's backcountry wilderness, any crime on a foreign national's record that possibly equates to a serious offense in Canada can be a problem at the border. Even if the conviction was only a misdemeanor, which is common for a first-offense DUI or DWI in the United States, it could potentially result in the individual being refused entry into Canada.

What About Other Offenses for Driving Impaired?

By now you probably know it can be tremendously difficult to enter Canada with DUI convictions, but what about other types of offenses related to driving while drunk or driving with a "buzz"? Driving under the influence of alcohol (D.U.I.) is the most common acronym used in the USA, but almost any conviction related to intoxicated operation of a motor vehicle can be equated to a serious crime in Canada. "Operating" includes people with physical control of a vehicle, even if they were parked and did not plan to drive, and "motor vehicle" includes boats, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and dirt bikes, in addition to cars and trucks.

Impaired driving charges that can potentially make someone inadmissible for international travel include OMVI (Operating a Motor Vehicle while Intoxicated), OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired), DUIL (Driving Under the Influence of Liquor), DUII (Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicant), DWUI, and DUBAL. Civil traffic violations, such as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired), and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), can also render an American inadmissible to Canada despite being a traffic ticket not a criminal conviction. Even if a charge for driving impaired is reduced to wet reckless driving, dry reckless driving (no mention of intoxication), dangerous driving, or careless driving, a visitor can still be considered criminally inadmissible according to Canadian law.

If you were charged with boating under the influence of alcohol (BUI), or even some obscure charge such as operating a motorized lawn mower while intoxicated, your ability to travel to Canada can also be effected. Travel to Canada from US with DUI or similar charges appearing on your file can sometimes be hard, so the best strategy is to plan ahead. Even a person living in Canada on a Student Permit or Work Permit can become ineligible to freely leave and re-enter the country if their admissibility status changes due to an impaired driving incident. Whether you have a first-time DUI with no injuries and need to travel to Canada for business, or you are a Permanent Resident (PR) concerned you might be deported from Canada because of a DUI, you can phone us to learn how our seasoned immigration lawyer may be able to help.

How to Travel to Canada with DUI

Americans can obtain permission to enter Canada with a driving under the influence conviction by getting approved for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation. Both applications are complex, however, and statements made when petitioning the Government should be supported with adequate documentation. Some of the supporting documents that may be required for a TRP or Criminal Rehabilitation application are multiple letters of recommendation, a drivers abstract, federal and state police records, proof of completion of all sentencing, and a letter written by the individual explaining why they did what they did and how they have changed and no longer pose a risk to society.

Evidence a sentence was fully completed can include a receipt for payment of fines, a certificate for attending a MADD Victim Impact Panel, and a reference stating you went to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. If the DUI is old and the court documents have been destroyed, consider asking the court clerk for a letter or email stating the court disposition was requested and is no longer available. Applicants may also need a document from a local police department stating that there is not an active warrant out for their arrest. Unlike DUI classes, probation, or a court-imposed license suspension, SR-22 insurance is typically not viewed as part of an offender's sentence.

As part of the review process, the Canadian consulate may perform a deep background check on a TRP or Rehabilitation applicant in an effort to find any other crimes they have ever committed. This can include crimes such as mischief, reckless driving, assault, battery, menacing, disorderly conduct, public intoxication (PI), underage consumption / underage possession of alcohol, child abuse, drug trafficking, fraud, possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, domestic violence, firearms offenses, or even writing a bad check. Many Americans know it can be tough to get into Canada with a DUI, but not everyone realizes other misdemeanor and felony convictions can also be problematic.

Possession of a controlled substance (drug possession) is one of the more common crimes in America, and similar to a first offense DUI can render a person inadmissible to Canada. People occasionally get discouraged believing that they are banned from Canada for life because of their past crimes with no viable remedy. It does not matter what crimes a person has committed in the past, however, if they successfully petition the Government for entry permission, visiting Canada with a DUI or criminal record is possible.

After an individual completes their drunk driving sentence, there is sometimes conditions imposed on them in order for them to reinstate their driver's license. Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device or IID is a common one, as are conditional licenses which set restrictions on the driver such as not having any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood when driving, or only being in their vehicle to and from their place of employment. If your license is still suspended, you will obviously not be permitted to drive across the border even if you have a valid 2021 DUI entry Canada TRP. Without a driver's license, your only options will be to fly to Canada, sail there, or have someone else do the driving.

Assessment at Border

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) can turn away any non-Canadian citizen or permanent resident who wants to visit Canada for a large number of factors such as health problems, financial issues, past criminal convictions, or because they pose a general risk to security. Immigration officials determine the admissibility of travelers seeking to enter Canada on a case-by-case basis. Some of the factors used to determine admissibility are health, serious or minor criminality, security, human or international rights violations, misrepresentation, noncompliance, and even if any family members are inadmissible. The CBSA is not stupid! If you show up at the border with a U-Haul trailer packed full of all your belongings and tell them you just want to "visit" Canada, they are obviously going to be very suspicious of your true intentions.

DUI entry into Canada can be a lengthy and complex process for individuals who would be refused at the Canadian border without Rehabilitation or a TRP waiver. Even though reports of famous celebrities such as Chris Brown being stopped at the Canadian border and sent back to the United States have made the news (including celebrity gossip website and TV show TMZ), public knowledge in the USA about Canada DUI entry laws is still fairly low. A significant percentage of Americans who are criminally inadmissible to Canada are completely unaware that there are DWI and DUI travel restrictions, and many people have no idea that the Canadian border can potentially see your US DUI punishment thanks to criminal database sharing between the two countries. Even people that live close to the Canadian border such as residents of Northern Washington State who regularly cross the border into BC are not always aware of Canada's DUI entry laws, rules, and restrictions.

An abounding variety of recent criminal convictions can render an individual inadmissible to Canada, including a conviction for drunk driving (DUI or DWI). In some cases, even crimes such as disturbing the peace or mischief are enough to cause someone to be refused entry. A person may be automatically considered rehabilitated ten years after full completion of sentencing for a minor crime, but can apply to be considered rehabilitated after only five years. People who have been convicted of a serious crime, defined as one that could result in a ten year prison sentence or longer, are never automatically deemed to be rehabilitated and must explicitly apply for Criminal Rehab (also called "Individual Rehabilitation"). In Canada, many crimes have a maximum prison sentence of 10+ years to give the judge some leeway, so always consult with a qualified Canada immigration attorney before assuming your crime is not considered to be serious in Canada. Remember, if you show up at the Canada-USA border with a conviction that is more than ten years old but is considered a serious offense in Canada, you may still be refused entry since you will not automatically be deemed rehabilitated! It is also important to remember that the time-period does not start until you have finished serving your sentence (including all jail time and probation) and paid all fines.

DUI Entering Canada

Going to Canada with a DUI for work or even leisure can potentially be easy if you plan ahead and get a permit issued in advance of your travel. Unfortunately, many American citizens and residents do not realize that a DWI can result in Canada denying them entry. Even if you ask the average DUI attorney in the United States "can you get into Canada with a DUI?" some of them will not know the answer. If you are criminally inadmissible because of a DUI but you only learn about the Canada DUI entry laws shortly before your trip, you will have no choice but to cancel your travel plans or apply for a TRP on the spot while crossing the border. The second option is potentially a risky manoeuvre. When it comes to crossing into Canada with a DWI, a foreigner's TRP or Criminal Rehabilitation application should contain details of what lead to the initial arrest. For example, being stopped at a random police roadblock is different than if a state transportation authority police officer or county sheriff identified the person's vehicle as traveling at excessive speed or crossing double lane lines and consequently performed a traffic stop and standard field sobriety test to determine if they were drinking and driving. If a person has any type of DUI or DWI on their record, they potentially risk getting stopped at the Canadian border and denied entry to the country. If you have two DUIs and get a third, of if one of your two DUIs was the result of a car accident or even just a small fender bender, you may get charged with a 3rd degree or felony DWI which can make DUI Canada travel even more difficult. For people wondering how to enter Canada from USA with a DUI, it is imperative to recognize that a second offense DWI often makes it much more difficult to be approved for a Temporary Resident Permit since it will be harder to convince immigration officials that you have reformed.

DUI Entry Canada - Temporary Resident Permit

You can only go into Canada if you have a DWI causing you to be criminally inadmissible if you are issued a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or are considered rehabilitated by the appropriate government office. Restrictions on entry to Canada prohibit foreign nationals from crossing the Canadian border with a criminal record that renders them inadmissible due to criminality. Canada denying entry for DUI is commonplace, so it may be smart for select people to avoid such an endeavor unless they have a plan to fix their admissibility troubles. One repeatedly asked question is "can I fly through Canada with a DWI?" When it comes to Canadian immigration and drunk driving admittance, equivalent Canada DWI laws is the only factor that can differentiate a person's eligibility to cross into Canada. When it comes to criminal inadmissibility, there is no difference between driving to Canada, flying to Canada, or flying through Canada; in fact, non-admissible individuals could run into problems during even a short layover at any Canadian airport while in transit between countries unless the Government sanctions it.

If you were refused entry to Canada at a border crossing but are unsure why, it may be possible for a Canadian immigration attorney to request on your behalf the notes that accompany your file via the Global Case Management System (GCMS). In countless situations, a person with a DWI conviction applying for a Temporary Residence Permit Canada at the border may be refused a permit and denied entry to the country because they do not have a valid enough reason for visiting the country or because of another immigration violation. To justify receiving an emergency TRP at the border, a person's circumstances for requesting criminal entry should be dire and the individual should otherwise be admissible to the country. In some cases, officials may have been willing to issue a Temporary Resident Permit had the person otherwise been eligible for entry. Reasons other than criminality can also cause an individual to be denied entry however. Examples include intending to work in Canada without the required consent, or other potential concerns of immigration staff such as lack of funds or lack of ties to the United States.

DUI Canada Immigration Success Rates

No Canadian immigration law firm or consulting firm should ever speculate on the exact percent chance someone has of successfully entering Canada with a DUI conviction or getting approved for a TRP. Doing so would not be reputable, and is typically against Canadian bar society rules. Each and every case is different, and it is very possible for one American with three DUIs to be granted entry, and another on the same day at the same location with only two DUIs to not be approved for entrance.

When attempting to travel to Canada with a DUI conviction, an incomplete IRCC application form, lack of supporting documents, or the officer's personal opinion or gut instinct can all have a sizable impact on the final outcome. A person's reason for coming to Canada can also play a decisive role. If you are an artist, actor, professional athlete, musician, or entertainer, or are traveling to assist one, phone our team today to learn how you can apply to be granted entrance to Canada with a DUI via a "national interest" narrative. Tour managers, security personnel, stage hands, publicists, band members, light or sound technicians, coaches, and documentary filmmakers can all potentially apply under this narrative.

Canadian entry with DUI is often required by people whose occupation sometimes demands they travel north of the border. From a California computer programmer needing to attend a mobile app development conference in Vancouver, to a New York investment banker trying to land a deal with a Bay Street hedge fund in Toronto, there are thousands of reasons for crossing the Canadian border with a DUI as a business professional. Our team also has experience helping airline staff fly to Canada with a DUI and commercial truck drivers cross the border with a criminal history. We have also helped many entrepreneurs travel to Canada with DUI charges or convictions, as well as people that own real estate in the country.

Can You Get a Canadian Work Permit If You Have a DWI?

Criminal records can prevent a foreign national from becoming authorized to work in Canada unless he or she can overcome their criminal inadmissibility by way of a TRP or Rehabilitation. Even a crime that occurred 30 years ago can impede an American's ability to obtain a Work Permit unless they have first obtained criminal entrance permission from IRCC. In addition to Study Permits and Work Permits, a DUI can hinder a person's Express Entry application even if they are highly skilled and have received a job offer in the country already. The only way a foreigner who is ineligible to enter Canada due to criminality can legally work in the country is to obtain both a permit to work as well as a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation.

What Are the Chances of Entering Canada with DUI?

When evaluating whether or not to bother applying for a TRP, many people ask themselves "what are the chances of entering Canada with a DUI?" Every person's situation is unique, and no reputable professional will ever be able to provide an exact probability of success. Another important question is, what are the consequences of being denied entry to Canada? If a person is just taking a short vacation across the border, perhaps they are willing to accept the risk of being refused entrance. If a person wants to go to Canada with a DUI to attend a business function, however, their risk tolerance likely goes way down. If you wish to secure admittance before attempting to cross the border, the lowest stress route is obtaining advanced entry permission from the Government via a TRP or Rehab.

Canada and DUI Entry

Many people search the Internet for DUI and Canada entry in an effort to figure out their chances of getting into Canada with a criminal record. We not only offer free consultations to people looking to fly into Canada with a misdemeanor or felony intoxicated driving conviction, we can help foreign nationals with just about any Canadian criminal inadmissibility issue. Whether a person has a conditional discharge drug possession or is a Temporary Foreign Worker wondering how a DUI in Canada will affect their immigration status, call us today for a free consultation. An experienced Canadian admissibility lawyer can help Americans with excludable offense admission to Canada by assisting them with the procurement a Temporary Resident Permit.

We update this website weekly, so if you are yearning to learn about Canada DUI entry 2021 changes as soon as they happen, we suggest you bookmark our website and refresh it regularly. The US dollar is now extremely strong compared to the Canadian dollar (at the current exchange rate, 1USD is worth about 1.35CAD) making trips to the country notably cheaper than they have been for almost a decade. An increase in American visitors, however, does not make it any more likely that border officials will stop denying entrance to inadmissible people with DUIs. Boating while intoxicated is akin to drunken driving when it comes to Canada's immigration policies for foreign nationals with a criminal record.

If you have ever been charged with intoxicated driving, you could be barred from Canada on the grounds of criminality. In addition to drunk driving, other crimes such as writing a bad check, public intoxication, possession of stolen property, petty theft, assault, trespassing at night, disorderly conduct, possession of a controlled substance and filing a false police report can also impact a person's ability to cross the Canadian border. Temporary entry can be granted to foreigners who have been charged with such criminal offenses thanks to a special "waiver" or permit called a Canada TRP. Requesting a blanket waiver valid for multiple entries spanning a 24-month window is possible at a Canadian consulate in the United States. In urgent cases, a request for instant relief can be made directly at a land border or a Canadian airport. Even if you "beat" your case and the criminal charge was subsequently dismissed, it is critical to have robust paperwork to substantiate your Canadian admissibility.

The inability to fly to Canada to attend a trade show due to a DUI allegation can jeopardize a person's employment. Consequently, it may be wise to attain legal help from a licensed practitioner when applying for a Canada DUI entry waiver. Our core practice area is admissibility, so we are very familiar with the immigration regulations that can bar you from traveling to Canada. Never underestimate the complexity of determining how a crime committed in the United States translates to the Criminal Code of Canada. For example, there is not always an equivalent offense under Canadian federal law. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty, a core judicial principle in both the United States and Canada, also does not apply as the Canadian border. As a result, law-abiding citizens with pending charges for an offense that could be considered indictable north of the border could be barred from entry into Canada even in the absence of a conviction.

Does Retaining a Canada Immigration Lawyer Guarantee Success?

As the old saying goes, the only true guarantees in life are death and taxes. While Canada immigration lawyers can help inadmissible individuals gain entry to Canada by preparing an effective IRCC application under the circumstances, no legal professional has complete control of whether or not an individual is successful in entering Canada. Several factors can come into play such as the interview process with Customs or Consulate officials as well as complicating circumstances. Examples of circumstances that can complicate things include having been already denied at the border, multiple DUIs or other criminal history, or a car accident causing personal injury or property damage; all of which are ultimately up to the discretion of immigration officials. In other words, a licensed Canada immigration attorney can prepare a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation application that maximizes their client's chance of success, but whether or not the person is granted DUI entry as a result of that application is a decision that is solely up to government authorities.

This being said, a professionally prepared application by a qualified Canada immigration lawyer will ensure the highest probability of victory possible for an American with a DWI who wants to visit Canada. While admission is never assured when traveling internationally, qualified Canadian immigration lawyers can prepare an application that will maximize the chances of a successful result. No Canadian immigration law firm can guarantee success, however, and any lawyer or consultant that promises you 100% guaranteed successful entry into Canada should not be trusted.

When selecting a legal professional to assist you, keep in mind that Canadian immigration is a tremendously broad field of law and that many Canadian immigration lawyers may have never worked on a criminal inadmissibility or Canada DUI entry application before. This is one of the many reasons why you may consider choosing a legal professional who practices Canadian immigration law and has experience in assisting Americans enter Canada with a DUI or other criminal record. To maximum your chance of being approved for special permission to cross the border, it is paramount to always disclose pertinent information to your Canadian DUI entry attorney.

DUI and Entering Canada

If you have a DUI can you get into Canada? It is one of the most popular questions our law firm is asked, and it is a common reason for American tourists to research travel restrictions to Canada. Admissibility is a complex matter, however, and factors such as how long ago the drunk driving offense occurred play a role in determining if a person is eligible to cross the border. A "Canada DUI Waiver" or TRP can enable a guest to visit the country with a criminal history that would otherwise constitute them as ineligible. Without one, foreigner visitors risk a border refusal if they are inadmissible due to criminality. Anyone immigrating to the country can also be rejected due to intoxicated driving because criminal ineligibility blocks suitability across all of Canada's immigration programs.

Foreigners who are not allowed to go to Canada because of a DUI can even run into issues if they have a connecting flight through Canada. DUI Canada travel restrictions apply to all foreign nationals including American citizens and US Green Card holders. Canadian citizens, on the other hand, can always enter Canada with a DUI without worrying about being blocked by border security. A DUI can affect a Canadian permanent resident's ability to travel internationally, however, and can even affect their ability to become a citizen and obtain a Canadian passport. Likewise, foreign nationals with a criminal record for driving while impaired can be refused a Canadian Student Visa or Work Permit, and can have their Spousal Sponsorship or Express Entry Canada PR application rejected.

Border requirements for aliens visiting Canada endeavor to control the introduction of people with a history of illicit behavior into the country's society. DUI entry Canada rules are essentially the same for all alcohol-related motor vehicle convictions including DWI, OVI, OWI, DWAI, DUID (DUI drugs) as well as wet reckless driving. Even a driving without due care and attention, dangerous driving, or improper driving on your record could be an obstacle at the Canadian border especially if alcohol or drugs were involved. DUI Canada entry may only be possible with an authoritative endorsement from the IRCC unless it has been longer than ten years since an individual got done probation for their one and only non-violent misdemeanor conviction. A DUI entering Canada without permission does not just jeopardize the offender's admission, all related parties traveling with that person may also be denied entrance.

Not all alcohol-related driving violations or DWIs are equal. A basic driving while intoxicated charge that was pleaded down to reckless driving is generally much less serious than DUIs that involve motor vehicle collisions, especially ones attached to additional charges such as dangerous driving causing death. Previous immigration violations, such as multiple border denials, can also make it more problematic to collect Canadian entrance permission successfully by virtue of a Canada TRP. Violent criminal offenses such as assault, or drug related crimes that culminated in prison time, can also make getting into Canada a more tenacious process.

Does It Matter Where in Canada You Intend to Travel?

Successfully entering Canada with DUI charges does not necessarily depend on where in Canada you plan to visit, nor does it depend on your First Port of Arrival (FPOA). Since the admissibility of someone from the United States of America attempting to enter Canada is determined by Canada's federal criminal and immigration laws, it does not matter which province an individual intends to visit. If you plan to use an experienced attorney to assist you in entering the country with a DWI, you may be happy to know that we have provided our services and legal advice to hundreds of Americans interested in Canada immigration with a DUI. Our Canadian immigration lawyer is licensed to practice in Canada and can help people enter every province & territory in Canada including British Columbia (BC), Alberta (AB), Ontario (ON), and Quebec (QC). This means the team and our Canada immigration lawyer can help you with DUI travel to Canada regardless of your destination. It also does not matter which specific Port of Entry you arrive at, whether it be by car or bus at a land border, by plane at one of the many Canadian airports such as Pearson Airport in Toronto, or by cruise ship in Vancouver or Victoria.

If you are sitting there reading this wondering "can I enter Canada with a DUI?" we encourage you to call us today to get real answers to your questions thanks to our free 1 on 1 consultations. Our goal is to help make traveling to Canada with DUI as easy as possible!

List of United States Alcohol Related Driving Infractions That Can Render a Person Inadmissible to Canada:


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