My law firm receives numerous inquiries from individuals that have already been convicted of a DWI looking for information on whether they will be allowed entry into Canada for their next business, fishing or hunting trip. In a previous blog post, we discussed recent changes that are being made by Canada to potentially ease restrictions for entry for individuals under certain circumstances.
My office exclusively practices criminal defense and vigorously defends individuals charged with the crime of DWI. However, issues of entry into another country based on a conviction are better addressed by a lawyer that focuses in that area. Below is a brief synopsis of requirements for entry into Canada post DWI conviction. This information was kindly provided to our firm for this blog by an immigration lawyer in Canada whose firm focuses on such issues. We thank her for providing this helpful information!
Minnesota and Canada share a border, so cross-border travel is a common occurrence for many Minnesota residents. Many residents are unaware that having a DUI/DWI or even a reckless or careless driving offense may prevent them from entering Canada. Thousands of individuals are turned away at Canada’s borders for having been convicted of a DWI.
An individual convicted of any offense outside of Canada that is equivalent to any offense, under a Canadian statute (ie: the Criminal Code), which could be treated by way of indictment would render that individual inadmissible to Canada. Canadian immigration law does not distinguish between misdemeanor or felony offenses. This means that even a misdemeanor conviction may result an individual’s criminal inadmissibility into Canada.
There are two ways to overcome criminal inadmissibility into Canada. One way is to do so permanently by Criminal Rehabilitation or temporarily by obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). Individuals who have only one conviction on their record and their sentences were completed more than 10 years ago, may be rehabilitated by the passage of time.
The main requirement for obtaining a TRP is to demonstrate a significant reason to be in Canada, usually the government is looking for a reason related to one’s work or family or an emergency situation. A criminally inadmissible individual will require a valid Temporary Resident Permit to travel to Canada until they have overcome their inadmissibility. To illustrate, when an individual is convicted of an offense and:
• Their sentence was completed less then ten years ago or
• They have not yet received an approval of their criminal rehabilitation application, either because they have not yet applied or because it has not yet been processed
TRPs can be issued at a Canadian border (port of entry) or at a Canadian visa office (consulate). Applicants are advised to apply as soon as they know they will have to travel to Canada. The successful applicant will also be required to provide the required documentation in order to overcome criminal inadmissibility. It is advisable for individuals who are applying for a TRP and who are also eligible for criminal rehabilitation to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation before arriving in Canada. Visa officers may be reluctant to grant a TRP when the individual is eligible for criminal rehabilitation as the TRP is only meant to be a temporary bridge for inadmissibility.
There are 3 criteria or factors that must exist prior to an individual submitting a criminal rehabilitation application:
1. The commission of an offense, outside of Canada, which is an offense under Canadian law
2. The individual admits to having committed the offense or having been convicted of the offense
3. At least 5 years must have gone by since the individual completed their sentence (which would include fines, jail or probation)
Only a lawyer, certified by one of the provincial bar associations or a certified immigration consultant is authorized to represent individuals on Canadian immigration applications to the Canadian government including Criminal Rehabilitation and Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) applications.