In this article, you will find:
- An overview of why individuals who have been convicted of impaired driving may not be allowed to enter Canada.
- Information on how individuals who have been convicted of impaired driving can overcome their inadmissibility to Canada.
Citizens of many countries may be surprised to discover that if you have been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), you can be found criminally inadmissible to Canada. If you are found criminally inadmissible to Canada, you will not be allowed to enter the country.
This comes as a surprise to many because in most countries, impaired driving is seen as a minor or misdemeanour offence. In Canada however, driving while impaired is seen as a more serious crime and is likely to cause a person who has been convicted of such offense to be denied entry into Canada. This is due to Canadian law which provides that a person can be deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada if they have committed a crime outside of Canada that, if committed in Canada, would constitute a serious crime.
It is also important to note that Canada will refuse entry to individuals who have been convicted of any sort of impaired driving charge, not just DUIs. Examples of impaired driving offenses include:
- Driving While Impaired (DWI).
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
- Operating Under the Influence (OUI).
- Wet and Reckless (W&R).
- Reckless Driving.
- Driving without Due Care and Attention.
There are certain legal avenues that can allow a person to enter Canada despite being having been convicted of an impaired driving offense.
Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)
This solution is for a temporary entry and may allow entry to Canada despite an inadmissibility. It is also the only option available to those who have been convicted of an impaired driving infraction less than 5 years prior to a planned entry to Canada. TRPs can be applied for in advance at a Canadian visa office abroad or when entering Canada at a port of entry. You will only be eligible for a TRP if:
- Your impaired driving conviction is the ONLY crime you have committed. Note: you will still be allowed to apply for a TRP if you were convicted of two crimes arising from the same event.
- You did not serve any jail term for impaired driving.
- The impaired driving conviction did not involve any property damage.
Generally, TRPs are highly discretionary and are given to individuals who can prove that the need to enter Canada outweighs any potential risks or dangers that they would pose to Canada upon entering the country. A TRP, however, can only be issued for a maximum duration of 3 years and can be cancelled at any point if Canadian officials deem it necessary.
The decision on whether or not to issue a TRP is based entirely on the opinion of the Canadian immigration official who is assessing your admissibility to Canada.
Individual rehabilitation involves a formal process by which you apply to the Canadian government to request forgiveness for the impaired driving offence. In order to be able to apply for individual rehabilitation, five years must have passed since completing all sentencing, probation periods and fines related to the impaired driving offense.
If you are applying for individual rehabilitation and you live outside of Canada, and you do not have a visa to enter Canada (visitor, study or work), you must submit your application along with all relevant visa applications to the nearest Visa Application Center.
If you are living outside of Canada, already have a visitor, study or work visa, and are only submitting an application for individual rehabilitation, you must submit your application by mail to the visa office closest for your geographical area.
If you are a foreign national who needs an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), you must submit a separate application for criminal rehabilitation before you apply for your eTA. Once you have received confirmation of your rehabilitation, you may apply for an eTA. If you apply for your eTA before you receive your rehabilitation, your application will be assessed based on the information currently available, and may result in the refusal of your application.
In some cases, you will be considered deemed rehabilitated from your impaired driving offense without having to make an official rehabilitation application to the Canadian government. If you are deemed rehabilitated, you will be allowed to enter Canada. Being deemed rehabilitated depends on the amount of time that has passed since you finished all sentences, fines and probation periods related to the crime.
Usually, you will have to wait 10 years to be deemed rehabilitated of an impaired driving offense. Additionally, you can only be deemed rehabilitated if you have not been convicted of impaired driving more than once. Lastly, if your conviction for impaired driving was one that, if committed in Canada, would receive a maximum jail sentence of more than 10 years, you will be unable to be deemed rehabilitated.
There are two main venues where a deemed rehabilitation can be confirmed. The first and most used location is a Canadian visa office. The second location is a Canadian port of entry. You can only be deemed rehabilitated at a Canadian port of entry, however, if you satisfy all of the following criteria:
- At least ten years have passed since you finished all jail terms and paid all relevant fees.
- The impaired driving conviction is not considered a serious crime under Canadian law.
- The crime did not involve any serious property damage, physical harm to any person, or any type of weapon.
A deemed rehabilitation assessment or an individual rehabilitation application can take 12 months to conclude. It is a proceeding that is contemplated by candidates who are intending to apply for a long term temporary or permanent admission to Canada.
A TRP should not be confused with a TRV (Temporary Resident Visa), the latter which may also be required for temporary admission to Canada depending on one’s nationality.
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