Many Minnesotans are interested in driving north and visiting Canada for a summer vacation or for a unique fishing experience, but entering Canada is not always an easy experience if you have a criminal record. Canadian border agents aren’t going to deny you entry into the country if you’ve had a couple speeding tickets over the years, but more serious charges are viewed in a different light. One of the most common crimes that prevents people from entering Canada is a past DUI conviction.
It does not matter whether the DUI in the US was considered a misdemeanor or a felony, as both types of DUIs can result in you being denied entry into Canada. The reason being is that a DUI in Canada is considered a hybrid offense, meaning it can either be a summary offense or an indictable offense depending on what the prosecutor wishes to do. Even though the majority of Canadian DUIs are summary offenses, the fact that it can be an indictable offense means the crime is a potentially excludable act for foreign citizens who wish to enter the country.
How To Avoid Problems
If you have been convicted of a DUI or another serious crime in the past, there are some steps you can take to ensure you don’t run into a problem at the border. You can either try to rectify the problem on a temporary basis or a permanent basis.
We will cover all of these options in greater detail in the near future, but here’s a quick explanation of the temporary and permanent options you have if you want to enter Canada with a DUI.
- Temporary Resident Permit – A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) allows a person to enter Canada for a set period of time so long as they have a valid reason to visit (visiting family, business, fishing trip, etc.) The TRP is a good option for individuals who aren’t eligible to address their conviction on a permanent basis. A TRP is not always easy to obtain, but it can allow entry for up to 12 months if granted, and up to 24 months for subsequent TRPs.
- Criminal Rehabilitation – This is the permanent solution to the problem of a past criminal conviction that would inhibit entry to Canada. In order to be eligible to apply for Criminal Rehab, five years must have passed from the completion of your sentence. This means if you spent 10 days in jail and received two years probation, five years must have passed from the end of your two-year probation sentence. This document never needs to be renewed, and once obtained you should have no problem entering Canada.
- Deemed Rehabilitation – There is also the possibility that the Canadian government will deem you rehabilitated if enough time has passed since your original conviction. If you were convicted of misdemeanor DUI, and more than 10 years have passed since the completion of your sentence (again, this means 10 years since the completion of every single sentencing guideline, like probation), then immigration authorities may disregard your past conviction. However, this will only apply to DUI convictions incurred prior to December 2018 because Canadian law was amended and DUIs are now being treated more harshly under the law. Therefore, if you have a DUI conviction that was registered in or after December 2018, it can no longer be considered deemed rehabilitated and a formal application for criminal rehabilitation must be made. It is not advisable to assume you will be deemed rehabilitated, and further action should be taken to ensure entry.
Steps To Take
If you know you fall into one of the above categories, it is in your best interest to start the process of applying for a Temporary Residence Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation well in advance. Applying for a TRP with the Canadian Visa Office can take 6-10 months, but it will ensure your approval instead of relying on your permit to be accepted at the point of entry. We realize that it’s not always possible to apply for a TRP that far in advance, especially if you are heading to Canada on business, so we’ve partnered with a Canadian law firm to help ensure you get assistance from both sides of the border.
We’ve worked with the Migration Lawyers at Mamann, Sandaluk and Kingwell LLP in the past, and we know both our firm and theirs can help you gain entry to Canada. They have helped individuals obtain TRPs and be deemed rehabilitated, and we know by working together, we can help ensure your trip to Canada goes off without a hitch.
For more information about entering Canada with a DUI, reach out to the lawyers at Appelman Law Firm. We’ll hear your case and either work with you to ensure your entry or set you up with a migration lawyer to help you fill out the right paperwork. Don’t assume that your conviction won’t be uncovered or that it won’t be an issue because you’re flying into Canada. Be proactive and ensure your entry by contacting us today.