Arrested for DUI? Here’s What You Need To Know About Traveling to Canada

Many people are aware that a criminal conviction can carry very serious consequences. However, many people don’t realize that these consequences can follow them long after they have completed their sentence. In the case of a DUI conviction, it could limit your ability to travel to Canada. This additional consequence is known as criminal inadmissibility.

Criminal inadmissibility is a form of border control. Canada has rules that bar entry to the country for people that have been convicted of certain crimes. This applies even if your criminal convictions were from your home country and you have been completely law abiding while in Canada. Upon seeking entry to Canada, your passport will typically be scanned. If this scan turns up criminal history, you may be turned away at the border.

Canada’s criminal system has “summary offenses” and “indictable offenses.” These are similar to misdemeanors and felonies in the U.S. However, some misdemeanors are classified as indictable offenses in Canada. This is important, because any indictable offense can render you criminally inadmissible. Inadmissibility also applies if you’ve been charged and the case has not yet been resolved. Anyone facing pending charges should be aware of this possibility when making travel plans to Canada. Furthermore, anyone that recently obtained a dismissal should bring a copy of the dismissal order in case Canada’s records haven’t been updated yet.

The easiest way to avoid this is to never get convicted in the first place. If you are charged with DUI, a good criminal defense lawyer can help you with this. However, if you have already been convicted, there are three ways that you can still travel to Canada. The options are a Temporary Resident Permit, applying for rehabilitation, and deemed rehabilitation.

A Temporary Resident Permit is the easiest and most inexpensive option. If you are granted a TRP, you will be permitted to enter Canada. However, this does not grant reentry privileges; you cannot leave Canada and return with a TRP. The fee is normally $200. However, pursuant to the “Tourism Facilitation Action Plan” that was passed in Canada earlier this year, the fee will be waived one time. You can apply by simply going to the border. However, Canadian border patrol agents have discretion over whether or not to grant the TRP. Border patrol agents may not have all the information they need to determine that you should be allowed to enter, so they may turn you away. Your chances of success may be increased by applying for a TRP in advance from a Canadian Consulate.

Applying for rehabilitation is another option. You are only eligible for this process if you have committed only one crime in the U.S., and five years have passed since the end of your sentence. This five year clock only starts running once the entire sentence, including probation, has been completed. This process is available for any crime. However, certain crimes, such as sex offenses, have continuing oversight, so the sentence is never actually completed. Furthermore, it is unlikely for such an application to be granted for more serious crimes. After the appropriate time period has passed, you must get background checks from every jurisdiction where you have lived since the crime, and an FBI background check. These documents, the application, and the fee are then sent to the Canadian Immigration Board. The fees are either $200, or $1,000, depending on the crime. The fees are nonrefundable, and the application takes roughly one year to process.

Deemed rehabilitation is the last option to enter Canada after being found criminally inadmissible. You are eligible for this option once ten years have passed from the end of your sentence. Here, sentencing also includes time spent on probation. The same background checks and documents that are required for the application for rehabilitation are required for deemed rehabilitation too. You can take these materials to the Canadian border and present them to a border patrol agent. There is no fee for this process. If the agent determines that you are rehabilitated, you will no longer be criminally inadmissible and will be permitted to enter Canada.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, or are having trouble entering Canada because of a previous DUI, call my law firm at (216) 369-9106 to schedule a free consultation. Or, you can use the contact form to the right to send an email directly to me.

Please remember that nothing on this page is legal advice. It is provided for informational purposes only.


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