Canada with DUI

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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 I Visit Canada with a Sealed Record?

If a citizen of the United States has a misdemeanor or felony conviction in their past, they could get denied entry at the Canadian border on grounds of criminality. Even a single DUI or reckless driving conviction can be a problem at the border. Many Americans seal their criminal record, and then assume because their record is sealed they will not have any issues entering Canada. This is absolutely incorrect, the Canadian border can still see a criminal record after it has been sealed, and sealing your record does not make it any easier to get into the country!

Canada treats a sealed record the exact same as a regular criminal record. If you have a misdemeanor or felony that equates to a potentially serious crime north of the border, even if it has been sealed, there is a significant risk of getting refused admittance by Canadian border patrol. The Government of Canada has full unlimited access to the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, and consequently the Canadian border can see the criminal history of every visitor from the USA even if their record was deleted, hidden, sealed, or "dropped off" after a period of time.

How to Get Into Canada with a DUI That Has Been Sealed

A DUI is a serious crime in Canada that can be punished by as much as ten years of incarceration, so a sealed DUI conviction can be a major problem at the border. A single DUI or DWI conviction that has been sealed can block a US passport holder from ever getting into Canada, so even an old violation can be an obstacle. Other crimes such as possession of a controlled substance, domestic violence, petty theft / shoplifting, larceny, and resisting arrest can also render an American criminally inadmissible to Canada even if the record has been sealed. Getting your record sealed can help when applying for jobs since employers will not usually be able to see a sealed record when they do a background check, but getting an arrest record sealed does not help a person travel to Canada.

It is possible for an American with a sealed record to obtain special permission to legally enter Canada by applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation. A TRP waiver is a quick fix, but is only available for a limited duration and requires an applicant to have a good reason for travel. Rehabilitation is a permanent fix that can be used for tourism purposes, but is only available five years after all sentencing was finished. Both applications are complex, so some people with a sealed record simply avoid visiting Canada.

Want to go to Canada but have a sealed record? Contact our Canadian immigration law firm today for a free consultation!

How Does Canada Know About a Sealed DUI?

If an arrest or conviction happened in the United States of America, it is almost impossible to ever hide it from Canada's border patrol. As soon as the information is collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation it is shared with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who then pass the information on to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Visitors to Canada can then have their US passport scanned by front-line officers against the CBSA's internal lookout system, which can instantly flag an American who is a felon or has a misdemeanor in their past. Even after a US citizen seals their record, the data is not removed from the FBI NCIC database or from the Canadian border's internal lookout system. Consequently, entering Canada with a sealed record is just as difficult as entering Canada with a criminal record that has not been sealed. In both cases, if the offense renders a visitor inadmissible to Canada on grounds of criminality, he or she will need to obtain a TRP or Canadian Rehabilitation to avoid the risk of a border refusal.

While getting your record sealed does not make it any easier to get into Canada, if a traveler had their conviction expunged, set aside, or destroyed in a "favorable" manner it could be equated to a Record Suspension in Canada. Border security can still see a conviction even after an expungement, but in such cases it may be possible to argue that the offense should be treated as a non-conviction in Canada. Before attempting to travel to Canada with an expunged DUI, however, it is advisable to first consult with a Canadian immigration attorney regarding your admissibility.

In addition to Canada's border knowing about criminal convictions via the FBI, the Government of Canada can also be aware of an impaired driving, refusal to provide a breath test, or driving while suspended violation through information sharing agreements they have with more than a dozen US states. In a nutshell, many states such as New York share DMV driving records with Canada allowing them to see that a traveler from the USA had their driving privileges suspended or received an administrative penalty or other driving infraction.

There is no statute of limitations, so an American can be precluded from entering Canada at the discretion of border agents regardless of how long ago an arrest transpired. Since it is virtually certain that a sealed record is visible to CBSA officers forever, most people who are inadmissible to Canada either avoid the country or apply for a TRP or Rehabilitation. Gambling at the border is typically not smart, as a family member traveling with you can even be refused entry if you are turned back because of criminal inadmissibility. Even if you disagree about the ethics of Canada refusing admittance to individuals because of a sealed DUI conviction, the reality is they are a sovereign nation permitted to police their borders any way they choose and a person must either comply with their rules or risk getting denied entrance.

Since sealed records are not visible to the general public, a big mistake someone Americans make when trying to go to Canada is claiming to border agents they have never been arrested. Similar to law enforcement, however, Canadian border security officers can see sealed criminal records and lying about a DUI at the border is not wise idea. If you have a record that has been sealed and a CBSA officer asks if you have ever been charged with a crime, be absolutely honest with them do not think for a minute that just because your record was sealed you will be able to fool the agent.

Interested in visiting Canada but have a sealed record? Contact our law office today for a free consultation!

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