Individuals who have been convicted for driving under the influence (DUI) may be criminally inadmissible to Canada and this may affect a person attempting to enter the country, as well as preclude candidate eligibility across all existing Canadian immigration programs. Criminal inadmissibility may further complicate the admission process when a dependent or accompanying family member is denied entry due to a DUI conviction. [See http://www.duicanadaentry.com/dui-glossary/].
DUI Canada access: Types of Drunk Driving charges
Charges of drunk driving are prosecuted under a variety of designations including:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
- Wet and Reckless (W&R)
- Driving While Impaired (DWI)
- Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI)
- Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)
- Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated (OMVI)
Misdemeanor DUI offenses do not play a role in the assessment of a travellerâs admissibility; however an American convicted of a misdemeanor DUI offense may still be inadmissible. Bear in mind that criminal inadmissibility as a result of DUI, DWI, and any other driving violation (and conviction) may be overcome with the help of an attorney depending on the circumstances.
Factors used to address inadmissibility
It isnât the end of the road for persons entering Canada with a DUI conviction: there is more than one way to address a case of inadmissibility, however choosing the right option may depend on a number of issues, including:
Â· The number and types of conviction,
Â· When the sentencing was completed, and
Â· The severity of the offense.
A criminal offense committed outside of Canada is reviewed according to the severity of an equivalent offense in the Canadian criminal code. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_immigration_and_refugee_law.)That being said, a minor driving violation abroad may translate into a more serious offense in the Canadian immigration process: check http://www.duicanadaentry.com/state-conditional-discharge-programs/.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the conviction, an individual may have to follow one of these paths in order to be accepted into the country.
- a) Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)
When entering the country, individuals with an old DUI conviction may apply for a temporary resident permit at an immigration office. A TRP allows travellers to enter Canada on temporary basis – up to a period of 3 years depending on each case. When pursuing a TRP, applicants must make sure the offense occurred within the last five years. The processing time for a TRP varies between different immigration offices, however when applying through a visa office, it is recommended that applicants allow at least 6 months of processing.
- b) TRP issued at Point of Entry
As of 2012, the Canadian government amended its immigration laws to accommodate individuals seeking entry into Canada with a TRP issued at the Canadian port of entry. In order to get one of these permits, the applicant must provide compelling evidence of urgent circumstances. Applicants should seek the advice of an attorney when applying for a TRP upon entry.
- a) Permanent rehabilitation
Inadmissibility cases can in fact be resolved permanently for individuals travelling to Canada. Canadian immigration law makes it possible for individuals to be allowed into the country provided that 5 years have elapsed since completion of the last sentence. Processing of Permanent Rehabilitation cases can take over a year, therefore applicants may pursue a TRP during the waiting period.
- b) Deemed rehabilitation
For instances in which over 10 years have passed since the applicant completed the last sentence, he or she may be deemed rehabilitated by virtue of the time passed. However each case is handled uniquely regardless of assumed eligibility; which is why applicants are advised to submit additional information to boarder officials in order to make their situation clearer.
One option is to retain the services of an immigration attorney to determine legal precedence or opinion that clearly states how and why they are eligible to enter the country.
Why hire an immigration lawyer in Canada?
If a US resident has in the last 10 years been convicted of a DUI they are automatically inadmissible to Canada without explicit permission from immigration authorities. Even in cases where the individual was arrested but never charged, they may still be turned away at the border. Still, a solution is available in the form of a TRP or Permanent Rehabilitation.
While it is possible for an individual to apply for either of these on their own, it is not recommended. The Canadian immigration code is exhaustive and extremely detailed, meaning an application that is not properly filled will result in rejection. Application costs $200 (or $160USD) and if rejected, the fee is nonrefundable.
An experienced immigration attorney can assist in preparing the application, making sure it is compliant with the regulations set by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC – http://www.cicnews.com/2014/05/entering-canada-dui-conviction-053391.html). In addition, the document checklist provided by the CIC on their website lists all compulsory documents required for a TRP or Criminal Rehabilitation application but a lot more documents may be required for each case.
A Canadian immigration lawyer or Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant should be able to assist in assembling all the right documents to present with the application, e.g., passports, driverâs license, marriage certificate, birth certificate, alien registration card, citizen certificate, etc. Depending on your case, a TRP application may also require documents involving past criminal convictions such as police records, an FBI certificate, copies of court judgment, etc.
These are only a few of the required documents, more papers may be required with each application, but with help from an immigration attorney it will be easier to keep track of all the documentation while ensuring the application is error free.
Do I really need help?
Immigration law is complex, as illustrated here http://www.immigration.ca/en/; and only licensed Canadian immigration attorneys are qualified to offer assistance with your TRP or Permanent Rehabilitation application. Whether you are a student planning to join a Canadian university, or an employee of a multinational corporation, the process is more or less the same â you need help from a qualified immigration attorney in order to navigate through the mass of paperwork that characterizes most applications.
Individuals who have been denied a TRP at an airport may be returned to the US on the next available flight, and in more serious cases, an officer may confiscate their passport while the person waits at a nearby lodge for a flight back home. For more insight, visit the DUI Canada Entry website.