FAQ: Enter Canada with a DUI

Below we answer some frequently asked questions concerning the implications of a DUI and your ability to enter Canada.

Any person arrested and/or convicted of driving under the influence (e.g., DUI, DUAI, and/or DWI) is automatically barred from entry into Canada for a minimum of 10 years.

Both an arrest and conviction for DUI can make you inadmissible to Canada. As long as the DUI charge is still pending, the Canadian government will continue to exclude you from the country. If, however, a DUI charge ultimately results in a dismissal, it can no longer be used as grounds to deny entry to Canada.

The degree of seriousness of a DUI charge as it pertains to laws of the United States is irrelevant for Canadian immigration purposes. The determining factor is how your specific DUI charge equates to the same equivalent offense under Canadian laws. As a result, even a charge such as DWAI, which is only considered a traffic infraction in New York State, can still prevent you from entering Canada.

Yes. It is still possible to gain entry into Canada with a DUI on your record. Unfortunately, it involves a highly complex legal process that requires a great deal of planning and effort.

You will need to correctly apply for and then successfully receive permission from Canadian immigration authorities to enter the country. This involves (1) applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or (2) submitting a Criminal Rehabilitation application.

A Temporary Resident Permit is permission from the Canadian government to enter the country for a specific period of time. A TRP is a temporary solution that requires an applicant to demonstrate a valid reason for entry, such as entering for business purposes, or visiting family members.  This can be a solution prior to eligibility for individual rehabilitation (Below),  Typically, TRP’s are only granted for one-off situations.

A Criminal Rehabilitation application is a petition to Canadian immigration authorities asking the government to forgive a prior DUI conviction. This option, however, is not immediately available. To be eligible, five years must have passed since the completion of your criminal sentence and the day you committed the act that made you inadmissible.  At that point, you are eligible for an application for “individual rehabilitation.”  Once an application is approved, the individual is given a fresh start in the eyes of the Canadian government and allowed to freely enter the country.

If a DUI conviction is over 10 years old, an individual may be “deemed rehabilitated” by the passage of time and not required to apply for a TRP or submit a Criminal Rehabilitation application. Ten years must have passed since the completion of all conditions associated with your DUI conviction, and you must not have been subsequently arrested or convicted for a separate DUI since the initial charge.