The following is a guest article post from AllCleared.
If you have been charged with a DUI in the United States, you may have a misdemeanor or a felony on your record. However, if you want to travel to Canada, you will be judged by the toughest standard, which is called “indictable.”
While foreigners can generally enter the United States with a DUI, Canada takes a different stance. You will need an application to enter Canada if you have had a DUI in the past 10 years. Canada and the United States have shared access to national criminal record databases, so you should assume that your record will be discovered at the border.
Why does Canada bar people with DUIs?
In Canada there are three types of offences:
Summary: Similar to misdemeanor
Indictable: Similar to felony
Hybrid: Could be considered either summary or indictable
DUI is a hybrid offence. When you go to court in Canada, the Crown (public) prosecutor will decide whether the case should proceed as summary or indictable based on the seriousness.
If you were charged in the United States, this process doesn’t apply, so your DUI will automatically be considered indictable.
How do you legally enter Canada with a DUI?
There are four different ways that you can enter Canada with a DUI:
Port of Entry Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)
If you have an urgent reason to enter Canada, such as a death in the family or a major business deal that will fall through if you aren’t there, you may be granted a TRP at the border. However, this is a highly discretionary application. The border officer will have the ultimate say without much time to review your application. If you have time to apply at the Consulate, you are better off going that route instead.
Temporary Resident Permit (TRP):
If you have a legitimate reason to enter Canada, such as a wedding of a close family member or business meeting you may apply for a TRP through the Canadian consulate. This application will allow you to enter for a particular reason for up to three years. The length of validity and the number of times you can enter will be up to the officer reviewing your file. If your DUI occurred in the last five years, this is your only option. Applying through the Consulate takes about three to six months.
If it has been five years since you completed your sentence, and you have had no other convictions or charges, you can apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. This will take longer than the TRP, but it is a permanent solution and you don’t need a compelling reason to enter. This gives you more freedom for making last minute vacation plans or just hopping across the border on a day trip.
Because the Criminal Rehabilitation application takes a long time (six to 24 months) many people will apply for a TRP and rehabilitation at the same time.
The eligibility wait period for Criminal Rehabilitation starts the day you finish your sentence, not the day you are convicted. Your sentence includes payment of fines and probation. However, it doesn’t include driving bans or licence suspensions. You can have a permanent driving ban and still apply for Criminal Rehabilitation.
Deemed Rehabilitation: If it has been 10 years since you completed your sentence, and you have kept a clean record, you are deemed rehabilitated and can enter Canada without an application. However, you may want to take your court documents and other information to the Consulate for approval.
How to apply
For information about applying to enter Canada with a criminal record, visit the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship Canada website. There are many different types of documents you will need to collect, so you should start well in advance of your trip. If you wish to have paid representation, you can engage the services of a Canadian lawyer or Registered Immigration Consultant.
If you have ties to Canada or expect to travel there in the future, it’s important to make sure you complete all the conditions of your sentence as soon as possible and keep a clean record. This will help you get back on the road faster.
AllCleared is Registered Immigration Consultancy firm in Canada that assists US citizens with crossing the Canadian border.