I have a DUI, can I travel to Canada?
Visiting Canada if you have a DUI (driving under the influence/drunk driving) conviction takes advance planning. Most U.S. citizens do not realize they will not be allowed admittance into Canada if they have been convicted of a driving and alcohol related offense.
Anyone with this type of conviction will only be allowed to enter the country by either applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or for a full Waiver of Ineligibility, before travel. Even if you are not driving into the country you will be denied admission without arranging for either the TRP or the Waiver, prior to arriving at the US-Canada border.
When applying for a TRP for travel to Canada your reason for entering the country must be justified. The reasons for your travel must outweigh any potential risks to Canadian citizens by having you in the country. Justifiable reasons may include travel for work, vacation or family obligations.
A permit application is not guaranteed approval; it is important to remember your application may be denied. It is imperative to get professional help from a US-Canadian immigration attorney when applying for a TRP to ensure the reason you are applying is justified. Permits are issued for a specific period of time and you must leave the country by the expiration date. If you plan to return again in the future, you will need to apply for a new permit.
The TRP applications require a series of documents to be submitted with your application. Most permit applications can be submitted online, however it is vital to have all the necessary paperwork and information needed when initially filling out the TRP forms.
Documents include items such as photographs, copy of marriage license (if applicable), verification of a valid passport and an overview of the reason for your travel. The visa office handling your permit application may require you to submit additional documentation and some individuals are required to provide biometric fingerprints.
Filing for a permit can be a complicated process. If you miss any of the required supplemental materials or other documentation your application could be significantly delayed. Therefore if you are planning a trip and need to ensure the approval process is not delayed, it imperative you seek the advice of legal counsel to help you navigate the process.
In the past, anyone with a conviction related to driving under the influence (DUI) was required to pay $200 Canadian Dollars when applying for a TRP. However, there is good news about this cost. As of 2012 individuals may apply for a permit allowing them to enter the country for one visit without paying the fee. Convictions eligible for fee waivers are outlined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Section 36(2) and alcohol related offenses are eligible for the fee waiver.
There are two requirements you must meet to receive the fee waiver beyond the type of conviction you have on your record.
- The first is that you must not have served any jail time.
- The second is that you cannot have committed any other criminal acts that could prohibit you from entering the country since your DUI conviction.
Filing for a Waiver of Ineligibility is a much more involved and complicated process. This process is generally employed by those individuals who will require multiple trips into Canada for work or family reasons. This process involves demonstrating not only a lengthy period of sobriety, but also involves demonstrating a complete lack of criminality by way of multiple background checks. This is an involved process that requires the assistance of a trained Canadian Immigration Attorney.
From navigating the entire TRP application to filing a fee waiver, or even exploring the possible need for a full Waiver of Ineligibility application, the process to enter Canada with a prior DUI conviction can be complicated.
Be prepared to face the application process by working with our dedicated professional staff. Our legal professionals will help you through the entire permit application process to help ensure you are able to travel to Canada.
Other Pages of Interest: Traveling to Canada with a criminal record