Traveling to Canada after a DWI

HALT! CHECK WITH THE BORDER GUARD

You no longer can travel to Canada

The death-knell of the republic had rung

as soon as the active power became lodged

in the hands of those who sought,

not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike,

but to stand for one special class and

for its interests as opposed to the interest of others.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Although most citizens of the United States may freely travel in and out of Canada without any difficulties, those convicted of certain crimes may be denied entry to Canada because such persons are considered Members of Inadmissible Classes. Canada considers driving under the influence of alcohol an extremely serious offense. Other crimes include, but are not limited to, dangerous driving, shoplifting and unauthorized possession of a firearm or illegal substances.

If the person seeking admission to Canada was convicted outside Canada and at least five years has elapsed since the end of the custodial portion (if any) of the sentence imposed, he may apply for a Minister’s Approval of Rehabilitation. If granted, the Minister’s Approval will permanently remove inadmissibility resulting from the conviction. The term “custodial portion” means the period of time that you are in jail or in the custody of the state. This can include probation if the sentence was such that you were in the custody of the state and the jail time was suspended.

If less than five years has elapsed since the end of the custodial portion of the sentence, then the person seeking entry may apply for a Temporary Resident Permit if the person is only seeking entry for a single or limited period.

Before either the Approval of Rehabilitation or the Temporary Resident Permit is granted, the Canadian government will consider how old the convictions are, the number of offenses on the applicant’s record, the applicant’s standing in the community, probation reports, and the applicant’s purpose for entering Canada.

The Canadian government may require a police certificate or a record check from each place the applicant has lived for the previous ten years, or since the applicant turned eighteen. Other documents that may be required include court records, probation reports, copies of the statute the applicant was convicted of violating and three reference letters from persons of standing in the community. Additionally, the Canadian government may require the applicant to write a statement of circumstances that surrounded the events leading to the applicant’s conviction.

Persons with DWI convictions are advised to apply well in advance of their travel plans. The Canadian government is similar to any other bureaucracy in that it does not move quickly. Applications can be made at any of the Canadian Visa Offices in the United States. These include the Canadian Consulate General in Buffalo, New York; New York City, New York; Detroit, Michigan; Los Angeles, California; and Seattle, Washington.

Before visiting any one of these locations, visit their web site to confirm hours of operation, required documentation, processing times, as well as any other instructions. Application forms may also be obtained from the above locations.

Although the authors have heard of persons who would be considered members of inadmissible classes gaining entry into Canada without going through the above procedures, the authors have heard of just as many being denied entry at the border. It is better to take the time to obtain the necessary approvals than be told at the airport in Canada that you must immediately buy a ticket home without ever leaving the airport.

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