If an American has ever been convicted of DUI or DWI, they could be classified as “criminally inadmissible” by Canada which can put them at substantial risk of getting denied entry at the border. Drunk driving is now a serious crime in Canada, so even a single DUI conviction can result in a lifetime ban from the country. People who are inadmissible to Canada because of a DUI, DWI, OVI, OWI, OUI, DWAI, or other offense related to intoxicated driving can apply for a Canadian pardon to permanently resolve their inadmissibility. Once a foreign citizen successfully obtains a Canada pardon, their criminal history will longer be problematic at the Canadian border allowing them to visit as often as they wish. How to Get a Canadian Pardon Application.
A permanent pardon for Canada is called Criminal Rehabilitation. Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation involves filing paperwork with the Government of Canada to convince them you are safe to allow in. A person is eligible to apply for a DUI Canada pardon once their entire sentence, including any probation or court-imposed suspension of driving privileges, has been finished for a minimum of five years. Applying for a Canadian pardon is a complex legal procedure that involves a significant amount of paperwork and typically takes about 6 to 12 months for government processing.
If an American is not yet eligible for a Canadian DUI pardon, or needs to enter the country quickly, they can apply for a Canada entry waiver called a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). An entry waiver is only a temporary solution to criminal inadmissibility, however, and requires an applicant to have a strong reason for traveling such as work or business. If a person’s primary reason for wanting to visit the nation is leisure / vacation, they should consider waiting for pardon Canada eligibility.
Have a DUI and interested in a pardon for Canada? Contact our immigration law firm today for a free consultation!
Do I Need a Canada Pardon?
If an individual has been convicted of a crime in the United States that equates to a potentially serious crime north of the border, they may be considered inadmissible on grounds of criminality without a pardon Canada (Rehabilitation). The Canada Border Services Agency denies entry to thousands of US citizens each year because of inadmissibility. There is no requirement that the offense be considered a big crime where it transpired. For example, most impaired driving convictions in the USA are only misdemeanors, but they equate to a hybrid offense in Canada which can result in an indictable charge (similar to a felony). Consequently, Canadian border security agents can view them as major crimes and may block a visitor from entering the country because of such an offense. This is why many Americans have trouble entering Canada with a DUI unless they have obtained an official pardon. If a person is unsure whether or not they need a pardon for Canada, they can contact a Canadian immigration lawyer to discuss their admissibility.
Canada DUI Pardon for Americans
If a US citizen wants a Canada pardon for DUI so they can cross the border without being refused admittance, they may be confused by some of the websites they come across. This is because a “Canadian pardon” can refer to more than one thing. If someone has a DUI conviction in Canada, and wants a Canadian pardon, they will need to apply for a Record Suspension. For example, a Canadian citizen who got a DUI in Ontario can clean their record by obtaining a Canada Record Suspension. If a USA citizen has a DUI conviction in America and no criminal history in Canada, however, a Record Suspension is not applicable to their situation. Instead, the Canadian pardon they would need is Criminal Rehabilitation which can allow them to start visiting Canada despite a driving under the influence of alcohol incident in the United States.
Many companies that advertise pardon Canada services on the Internet are primarily focused on convictions above the border. This is because they are typically assisting Canadians who want a Record Suspension, instead of helping Americans apply for Rehabilitation so they can get into Canada with a DUI. Consequently, you may notice very different processing times and prices listed on DUI pardon Canada websites, as they may not all be referring to the exact same legal procedure. For example, the government processing fee for a pardon application is often much higher for DUI convictions in Canada (Record Suspension) then for DUI convictions in the United States (Criminal Rehabilitation), assuming all offenses occurred before a DUI became a serious crime in December 2018. Record Suspension applications are also handled by the Parole Board of Canada, whereas Rehabilitation applications are done by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Since majority of our clients are Americans with a drunk driving history in USA, almost all the Canadian pardons we help people request are via Criminal Rehabilitation.
Applying for Canadian DUI Pardon from USA
Requesting Criminal Rehabilitation does not typically involve traveling to a Canadian border station or consulate. Most Americans apply for a DUI pardon for Canada from the United States by mailing away their paperwork or having it submitted to the Government directly via an authorized immigration lawyer. It does take a long time to get a pardon to enter Canada with a DUI, however, as Rehabilitation applications usually take between 6 and 12 months for government processing. If you are interested in learning how to get a pardon so you can travel to Canada with a DUI, we would be happy to explain our professional services.
Canadian Pardon vs. Expungement in USA
If an American successfully expunges their DUI conviction in the United States, it is still visible at the Canadian border thanks to FBI NCIC database sharing. While a DUI expungement in California or a few other jurisdictions may frequently equate favorably to Canadian law, there is absolutely no guarantee border agents will treat it as a non-conviction. Unless someone obtains an official pardon from the Government of Canada, border agents may review the traveler’s criminal history and assess their admissibility on each visit. Having a criminal record sealed will normally not make visiting Canada any easier.
Canadian Pardons for DUI Reduction
In many areas of the United States, a first-time arrest for driving while impaired may get reduced to misdemeanor reckless driving (dry reckless or wet reckless), dangerous driving, negligent driving, or careless driving. Many of these convictions can still be equivalent to a serious crime above the border, however, and as a result a DUI pardon may still be needed in order to cross the border successfully.