How Long After a DUI Can You Travel to Canada?

Canadian Immigration Entry Graphic

Canada is known for its stringent immigration requirements, raising concerns for individuals with a prior DUI conviction who wish to visit the country. At Dogen Law, we often receive inquiries about whether a DUI conviction can hinder entry to Canada.

In this article, we will explore the various scenarios that individuals with a DUI conviction may encounter and the legal options available for crossing the Canadian border. Ultimately, we will answer the question: How long after a DUI can you travel to Canada?

Before delving deeper into this topic, it is crucial to understand why a DUI conviction can pose a significant obstacle to immigrating to Canada. While many countries categorize DUI offenses as misdemeanors or lesser crimes, Canada takes them seriously, and a DUI conviction may render you inadmissible to enter the country. However, this does not mean a permanent ban; it simply requires patience. Allow us to elaborate further.

What is the waiting period to travel to Canada after a DUI conviction?

If you have a past DUI conviction, regardless of where it occurred, you will need to apply for a special permit to enter Canada. The specific permit you may be eligible for depends on factors such as the duration since the crime was committed or the completion of your sentence. Let’s examine the most common scenarios to provide a clearer understanding.

Entering Canada Within Five Years of a DUI Conviction

If you have been convicted of a DUI charge and your sentence is still being served or was completed less than five years ago, the only legal option to enter Canada is to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit (TRP).

TRPs allow entry into Canada for a specified period, granted by a border agent based on a well-justified reason. If you are granted a TRP, leaving Canada before it expires is crucial, as non-compliance is considered a serious offense. The processing time for TRP applications, which must be submitted through a Canadian consulate, can range from a few months to a year. Generally, they are processed within eight months. For more information regarding TRP processing times, we recommend reading this article.

In case of an emergency requiring immediate entry into Canada, you may also apply for an Urgent Temporary Residence Permit at a Canadian port of entry. However, it’s important to note that these applications have a higher denial rate. If your request is rejected, you will not be able to enter Canada, potentially leaving you stranded at the border.

Entering Canada After Five Years of a DUI Conviction

If it has been five years since you completed your entire sentence for a DUI conviction and have not committed any new offenses, you may be eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation.

To qualify for criminal rehabilitation, you need to provide certified court records confirming the completion of your sentence and compelling evidence demonstrating your active efforts in rehabilitation, thus indicating a reduced likelihood of reoffending. The significant advantage of criminal rehabilitation is that, upon approval of your application, you will have the privilege of indefinite unrestricted travel to and within Canada.

Although the processing time for criminal rehabilitation is longer than that of a TRP, it offers a permanent solution to access the country without further complications.

Entering Canada After Ten Years of a DUI Conviction

Individuals whose sentence was completed successfully ten or more years ago, with no subsequent convictions, may be eligible for Deemed Rehabilitation. This is in addition to being eligible for TRPs and Criminal Rehabilitation.

Deemed Rehabilitation and Criminal Rehabilitation are essentially the same, except that a criminal rehabilitation application must be submitted in advance. On the other hand, Deemed Rehabilitation requests can be made at the border and processed immediately. To apply, you must provide legal documentation verifying the conclusion of your sentence. If your request is approved, you will have the freedom to travel to and within Canada without requiring any additional special permissions.

In summary:

  • If you are currently serving your DUI sentence and wish to enter Canada, applying for a Temporary Residence Permit is advisable.
  • If five years have passed since you completed your sentence and you have not committed any new offenses, Criminal Rehabilitation provides a long-term solution for unrestricted movement.
  • If ten years have passed since completing your DUI sentence without any new criminal activity, Deemed Rehabilitation is the optimal choice, as it offers faster processing and permanent validity.

How Dogen Law Can Help

At Dogen Law, we have devoted years to assisting our clients in navigating various legal avenues that enable them to enter and stay in Canada. Whether you need guidance on the necessary documents for your Temporary Residence Permit application or advice on the most suitable program or path for your specific circumstances, our team of experienced professionals is prepared to support you. Contact us today!

Further Reading

Gain deeper insights into criminal rehabilitation, temporary resident permits, and overcoming criminal inadmissibility to Canada by reading our articles below:

Assault Charges

Border Checks, Criminal Inadmissibility, and Expunged Records

Criminal Rehabilitation & Temporary Resident Permits

DUI Resources

Felony Resources