Many people do not realize that a DUI or other misdemeanor conviction in the United States can bar you from entering Canada. Folks who head to Canada on vacation are sometimes turned away at the border because a member the family has a DUI conviction. People on business trips, or hunting and fishing trips face the same problem.
If you have a conviction for DUI, operating after license suspension, leaving the scene of an accident, dangerous driving or many other misdemeanor charges, you are “inadmissible” under Canadian immigration law. If that is your only criminal conviction in your life you are inadmissible for 10 years. After that you are deemed rehabilitated.
If you have two or more convictions you must apply for rehabilitation with the Canadian government. It is a pretty involved process that requires you to submit a lot of documents and a fee. Processing takes up to a year. You cannot apply for rehabilitation until five years after the last action flowing from the second conviction.
If it is essential that you go to Canada, and five years has not passed since your last conviction, you must apply for a Temporary Resident Permit. There is a two hundred dollar fee for a TRP. These permits are only granted in extraordinary circumstances. Do not plan a vacation with the idea that you are going to Canada and will get permission at the border.
Articles recently appeared in several Canadian newspapers indicating that the Canadian government may be relaxing these restrictions. Apparently the Canadian tourism officials are lobbying the Canadian government to change the rules. Turning back tourists at the border is costing Canadian businesses money.
I spoke with a top-flight Canadian immigration lawyer about these proposed changes. He was not very optimistic that changes would occur. His take on these news articles is that they are “trial balloons” to assess public response to changing border crossing laws. The present Conservative government was reelected on and anticrime/get tough on immigration campaign policy. There is very little public support in Canada for opening the borders to people who’ve been convicted of crimes. There is even less public support for DUI. The chance of opening the borders to people who’ve been convicted of DUI is slim to none.