DUI Entry to Canada

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Are you a CEO or Executive Traveling to Canada with a DUI?

If you are a CEO or Executive with plans to travel to Canada, you have a few advantages. One of the tenets of Canadian immigration policy is to promote economic growth by allowing individuals with professional expertise and qualifications to visit the country. In fact, a special class of work permit is available for Intra-company Transferees as well as Traders and Investors who are from the U.S. or Mexico. For example, intra-company transferees can qualify for a NAFTA Work Permit which will allow those with managerial, executive, and specialized knowledge to visit Canada and work legally. In general, if you are coming to take part in international business activities for your company, it is a very strong reason to enter Canada.

Despite the advantages of traveling to Canada as a CEO or Executive, there are still common restrictions to entry that must be considered. These restrictions apply to all foreign nationals who wish to visit or work in Canada and go under the general term of Inadmissibility. Some of the most common reasons for inadmissibility to Canada are:

It is the last point which often gets professionals visiting Canada into trouble at the border or port of entry. Some of the most common convictions that people receive are related to Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Whether the DUI arrest or conviction happened years ago or recently, it will qualify you as criminally inadmissible to Canada if it is detected by the officer screening your information. This inadmissibility applies regardless of how valid your reason is to visit Canada or your financial capability to support yourself while here. Quite often professionals coming to Canada are asked by an officer at the border or airport, "Do you have a criminal history?" If you have any sort of criminal record, it is in your best interests to disclose it to the officer when questioned. If not, you run the risk of being caught in a false statement and could be denied entry to Canada.

What qualifies as a crime in Canada?

Canada's Criminal Code has its own interpretation of what constitutes an indictable offense. If you have an arrest or conviction from the U.S. or Mexico, it will be converted to the equivalent charge under Canadian law. This is where complications arise for those individuals who have a DUI or other driving related charge on record. A DUI conviction is equivalent to an indictable offense in Canada. You may also be surprised to learn that many lesser charges such as Reckless Driving or Wet Reckless also qualify as indictable offenses as well. Things that may be considered as mere traffic violations in your country may carry much more weight as interpreted by Canada's Criminal Code.

The implication here is that your DUI on record has to be dealt with before attempting to travel to Canada. Below we will discuss some of the options available to you that will help you overcome your inadmissibility and gain entry without incident.

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

The Temporary Resident Permit is a popular avenue to pursue for business visitors, CEOs, and Executives alike. Quite often the need to travel to Canada is urgent and you may have very short notice to prepare. If you have a DUI arrest or conviction on record, you will need to prepare a complete Temporary Resident Permit to either submit at a Canadian Consulate, at the port of entry, or both. If you are traveling in the next few days, applying for a TRP only at the port of entry may be your only option.

A successful TRP application needs to show that you are no longer a risk to the Canadian public and that you completed or are working to complete all aspects of your sentencing. All of the documentation you are required to submit with a TRP is providing evidence that you do indeed qualify for special permission to enter the country. Documents submitted with a TRP application include:

The officer will examine all of the documents in your submission package and may cross reference with the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database, which often contains criminal records from national, state, and even county levels. If the officer is satisfied that you have provided sufficient documentation and are not a risk to Canada, you will be allowed entry into the country. When a TRP is granted, you will also be given an expiry date. This date could be anywhere from 1 day to 3 years and is up to the discretion of the issuing officer. The TRP is good for multiple entries into Canada, but when it expires you will need to re-apply for a new TRP and undergo the same process.

It is important to note that even if you have a valid NAFTA work permit, it does not exempt you from requiring a TRP if you have a criminal inadmissibility on record.

Criminal Rehabilitation

A Temporary Resident Permit is a good temporary solution for traveling to Canada on short notice. However, if you are likely to have business or other obligations in Canada for the foreseeable future, it might better suit your interests to pursue Criminal Rehabilitation from a Canadian Consulate. To apply for Criminal Rehabilitation, you need to have completed the conditions of your sentencing at least 5 years ago and not re-offended since. If this is the case, applying for a Criminal Rehabilitation can provide you with a permanent solution to your previous DUI arrest or conviction.

A successful Criminal Rehabilitation application shares many of the same requirements as a Temporary Resident Permit application. For example, you will need to submit:

As you can see, most of the documents required for Criminal Rehabilitation and TRP applications are identical. Due to the similarities, many people will apply for Criminal Rehabilitation and a Temporary Resident Permit simultaneously. This gives you the advantage of having a temporary solution for upcoming travel plans to Canada as well as a long term solution for removing the criminal inadmissibility permanently.

Unlike TRP applications, once you receive a Criminal Rehabilitation it does not expire. Once approved, you are free to travel to Canada without obtaining special permission each time you enter. The downside is, a Criminal Rehabilitation application takes time to approve. On average, it may take between 6 to 12 months. However, depending on the complexity of the application, it may take even longer than a year.

Deemed Rehabilitation

The third option available to you if you require special permission to enter Canada is Deemed Rehabilitation. If you have a single DUI conviction and have completed all the conditions of your sentencing over 10 years ago, then you could already be deemed rehabilitated. This condition hinges on you only having one conviction on record. If you have more than one offense, then you will have to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation.

Even if you are deemed rehabilitated, it is still a good idea to bring documentation with you that shows that you completed your sentencing over 10 years ago. Sometimes older convictions on record have not been updated properly in the switch from paper based to electronic databases. For example, the officer or customs agent may see a record of the conviction from over 10 years ago, but not the complete disposition from the court or a record of the absolute discharge from your DUI.

If you are a CEO or Executive traveling to Canada for work, business, or simply as a tourist and have a DUI arrest or conviction on record, be proactive! Contact our team of Canadian immigration lawyers and consultants to find out what your best course of action is. Let our experience and knowledge help you successfully enter Canada.