Flight Attendants and Pilots Traveling to or Transiting through Canada with a DUI
Many U.S. airlines travel to or transit through Canada on a daily basis. Companies such as American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines employ thousands of workers and have flights scheduled to and from Canada. Even smaller airlines like Alaska Airlines, Sky West Airlines, and Envoy Air provide flights to and from Canada.
Immigration problems can arise for employees of an international airline that has flights scheduled to Canada. If you are a pilot or flight attendant that has a DUI, DWI, or any other driving while intoxicated charge on record, you are considered criminally inadmissible to Canada. It doesn't matter that you are traveling to Canada to fulfill the job duties of your employer; you will still need special permission to enter the country. Obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) will allow you to continue your work duties for a temporary period of time (potentially up to 3 years). However, to solve the problem permanently at some point you will need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation through a Canadian Consulate. You may qualify for this option if it has been 5 years since you completed the conditions of your sentencing. Only after approval of your Criminal Rehabilitation will you be free to enter Canada without special permission.
Getting a Flight Attendant Job with a DUI
Many major U.S. airlines use flight attendant training programs to screen potential employees. For example, United Airlines uses a selection process involving two sets of interviews and a physical examination to determine who they will invite for training. Those qualified for the flight attendant training program must then successfully complete an 8 week training program. Upon successful completion of this program, they can be hired as flight attendants. One of the requirements to enter training programs like the one offered by United is that applicants must possess the legal right to travel unrestricted to and from all countries that are served by the airline.
Naturally, you are less likely to be hired on by an airline with connections to Canada if you are criminally inadmissible. This can create potential scheduling problems and other headaches for your employer that could be easily avoided by hiring another candidate. Major U.S. airlines like American Airlines and United Airlines require criminal background checks as part of their application process.
If you want to begin a career as a flight attendant, it is best to be proactive now and work towards securing either a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation. Many training programs will accept candidates with a DUI or other driving while intoxicated offense on record if the candidate can prove that they are actively taking steps to resolve their inadmissibility to Canada. If you have been accepted to attend a flight attendant training program, you could use a technique called "flagpoling" to quickly obtain special permission to travel to Canada.
Flagpoling is a technique where a criminally inadmissible person travels to a port of entry with the necessary documentation to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit. Even though you do not yet have a job as a flight attendant, you will need to be admissible to Canada in order to attend airline training programs and ultimately be hired. Due to this requirement, just the fact that you are actively applying for flight attendant positions means that you have a valid reason to enter Canada. Documentation confirming that you have been selected for a flight attendant training program for Canada servicing airlines such as Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Sky West Airlines, or Envoy Air will help satisfy the border officer that you have a legitimate interest in overcoming your DUI charge and having access to Canada. By going to a border or port of entry and applying for a TRP, you can quickly receive approval for entry into Canada. This will allow you to meet the company's requirements and start your initial flight attendant training.
I am already an Active Pilot or Flight Attendant. Will my recent DUI charge affect me?
What if you are already hired and working for a major U.S. airline that services Canada and you recently were charged or convicted of a DUI? It doesn't matter how many years of experience you have or how amicable a relationship you have with your employer, the fact remains that this DUI will prevent you from entering Canada. If you do receive a DUI or other driving while intoxicated charge, you should immediately inform your Human Resources department so that the company can initiate proper procedures for this type of scenario.
If you are a pilot, the next steps you take after receiving a DUI charge are governed by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). According to14 CFR 61.15 (e) (Offenses involving alcohol or drugs):
(e) Each person holding a certificate issued under this part shall provide a written report of each motor vehicle action to the FAA, Civil Aviation Security Division (AMC-700), P.O. Box 25810, Oklahoma City, OK 73125, not later than 60 days after the motor vehicle action. The report must include:
Basically, it you are a pilot you will be required to send a letter of notification to the Security and Investigations Division of the FAA within 60 days of your DUI or alcohol-related conviction. In addition, many companies will require you to undergo a substance abuse assessment before returning to work.
Even though the ramifications for a pilot who has received a DUI charge might seem more severe, flight attendants in the same situation also need to be aware of the consequences of having this type of charge on record. If a flight attendant recently received a DUI arrest or conviction, the charge could potentially show up on your record when screened by a Canada Border Services Agency officer. That means it is in your best interests of both you and your employer to inform Human Resources immediately instead of risking the unpleasant situation of being denied entry to Canada while working. If you are found inadmissible to Canada, you will be required to fly back to the U.S. on the next available flight at your own expense. Furthermore, if you are denied entry and you haven't informed your employer of your situation, it could result in grounds for being fired.
It's always in your best interests to be upfront with your employer so you can work together to solve the problem. Quite often flight attendants will still be allowed to work, but their schedules will have to be adjusted so that they are not on any flights to Canada.
Private Chartered Airlines and Air Ambulance Services
You don't necessarily have to be employed by a major U.S. airline to require admissibility to Canada. Companies like NetJets offers private business jet charters to clients who have purchased shares in specific aircraft. At any time and at short notice, the private jet's crew will need to be allowed to enter Canada if a client requests it.
This principle applies equally to air ambulance companies like PrivateFly. This type of airline provides medical evacuation and medical repatriation services and needs to guarantee rapid 24 hour response to patients and medical care providers. Being a part of the crew on an air ambulance flight with inadmissibility could lead to serious complications upon arrival at the port of entry.
Canadian Passenger Accelerated Service System (CANPASS)
If you are currently working in the airline industry or are planning to do so, you may have heard of CANPASS. The CANPASS system is a program established through the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) which allows members expedited service through Canadian customs and immigration at major Canadian airports using iris recognition technology. CANPASS merged with NEXUS in 2007 but is still used by many employees of major U.S. airlines such as American, Delta, and United.
However, CANPASS and NEXUS both have policies that deny U.S. citizens membership under certain circumstances. Taken from the CANPASS website: http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca
U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are inadmissible to Canada because of a criminal record can look into Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Rehabilitation Program. This may allow you to be eligible for CANPASS.
It is important for U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents to be aware that alcohol-related driving offenses such as driving while intoxicated, driving while ability-impaired and driving under the influence of alcohol are criminal offences in Canada.
If you have a DUI conviction, or even if you have been charged and are awaiting trial, you should consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer. Don't let your DUI charge have a negative impact on your career. Even those with expunged DUI charges or plead down charges such as Wet Reckless need to be prepared to ask for special permission upon attempting to enter Canada. Take the steps and be proactive: apply for a TRP or Criminal Rehabilitation today with the professional guidance of our team.