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Entering Canada with a DUI Conviction

Whether travelling on business or simply visiting, many travellers to Canada are unpleasantly surprised when they discover that they cannot enter Canada even though they have a valid passport. Under Canada’s immigration laws, if you have been convicted of a crime, or you have committed an act outside Canada that would be considered a crime in Canada, you may be rendered inadmissible.

In particular, if you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), entering Canada may be made more difficult.

DUI charges are processed under a variety of names worldwide, but they all have the potential to create issues of criminal inadmissibility for foreigners entering Canada. DUI charges that can make an individual criminally inadmissible include, but are not limited to:

  • Driving Under The Influence (DUI)
  • Driving while Impaired (DWI)
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)
  • Etc.

What can you do about it?

  1. Temporary Resident Permit

If it has been less than five (5) years since the end of your sentence, you may be issued a temporary resident permit (TRP) if an immigration or border services officer determines that you have a compelling need to be in Canada and your presence in Canada outweighs the health or safety risks to Canadian society.

Note that a TRP is always issued at the discretion of the delegated authority and may be cancelled at any time.

  1. Individual Rehabilitation

If more than five (5) years, but less than ten (10) years have passed since the completion of your sentence, you become eligible for individual rehabilitation. In order to apply for individual rehabilitation, you must show that at least five (5) years have passed since the end of your criminal sentence and the day you committed the act that made you inadmissible.

For example, if on 15 July 2008, you were convicted of driving under the influence and had your driver’s licence taken away from you for three (3) years, you are only eligible to apply for rehabilitation five (5) years from the end date of the suspension or the date your driver’s license is reinstated. Thus, you will be eligible to apply for rehabilitation on 15 July 2016.

  1. Deemed Rehabilitation

If more than ten (10) years have passed since you completed all sentences (payment of all fees, jail time completed, restitution paid, etc.), you may be deemed rehabilitated by the passage of time. You do not have to apply before travelling for deemed rehabilitation, but be sure you qualify before trying to enter the country so you do not face problems at the port of entry.
Before issuing a decision, an immigration officer at the port of entry will consider some of the following factors:

  • how many crimes you committed;
  • the circumstances and seriousness of each crime;
  • your behavior since committing the crime(s);
  • your explanation of the crimes and why you are not likely to do it again;
  • any support you receive from your community;
  • why you think you are rehabilitated; and
  • your present situation.

Note that to be deemed rehabilitated, the person must not have committed or been convicted of any other indictable offence.

If you are not deemed rehabilitated, you can apply for an individual rehabilitation.

A cautionary note
The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.


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