Driving under the influence is a serious offense. This crime can be qualified as a felony or as a misdemeanor. Because a DUI is seen by many individuals as a misdemeanor, many Americans attempt to enter Canada without considering that they may be inadmissible. Hence, these Americans that have a DUI on their criminal record have a harsh awakening when they are refused entry into Canada. And they sometimes ask: How does Canada know if you have a DUI?
The DUI charge does not have to be recent. It can still be used as a justification for making an individual inadmissible to Canada.
If you have been charged with a DUI in the past, you may be wondering how far back the Canadian border agency will check. In this article, we will answer your question. We will also provide insight into why individuals with a DUI are inadmissible to Canada.
Furthermore, the things individuals with DUIs should know about visiting Canada will be listed. Lastly, we will recommend the things you can do to gain entry into Canada.
How far back does Canada check for DUIs?
Canadian immigration officers examine an individual’s entire criminal record before allowing them into Canada. However, they may check if you have had a DUI in the last 10 years.
It is very difficult to categorically state how far back they check. The reason is that a border agent uses discretion when performing checks on an individual’s criminal record. Therefore, a 10-year check may be common but other agents may check even further back.
Will a DUI make you inadmissible to Canada?
In most cases, yes. In Canada, a DUI is a serious offense and one that could endanger the lives of individuals. This is why most people with DUIs are not allowed into Canada. In some cases, people who have not had a DUI in 10 years are considered rehabilitated and are allowed into the country. Individuals that had their DUIs as minors may also be admitted into the country.
Other traffic-related incidents could also make you inadmissible to Canada. These incidents include; over-speeding, running a red light, driving without a license, or driving with a suspended license.
Importantly, it is still possible to gain entry into Canada even if you have been charged with a DUI in the past.
Everything individuals with DUIs should know about traveling to Canada
1. Multiple DUIs will make you inadmissible to Canada
If you have one DUI, you may not be allowed into Canada because you may be seen as a security risk. In Canada, impaired drinking is an offense that could earn you a 5-10 year prison sentence.
However, if you have been charged with multiple DUIs, you will not be allowed to enter Canada. The re-occurrence of the DUI will show that you are not rehabilitated and could cause injury to people around you.
2. A DUI that occurred over 10 years ago will not guarantee your entry into Canada
The border agent attending to you will use their discretion to decide whether to admit you into Canada. If they feel that you are not rehabilitated, you will be inadmissible to Canada.
Before December 2018, the Canadian government felt that an individual with a DUI from over a decade ago was deemed rehabilitated. However, an individual convicted for a DUI is no longer seen as rehabilitated after 10 years.
If you have a DUI and you were deemed rehabilitated before December 2018, you can continue to visit Canada.
3. You will still be denied entry into Canada even if you do not plan to drive within the country
If you have a DUI, the border agent will not care if you do not plan to drive in Canada. Many Americans with DUIs believe that flying to Canada instead of driving will improve their chances of gaining entry; that is not the case. Border agents will still deem you inadmissible.
4. Having a misdemeanor DUI will not increase your chances of gaining entry into Canada
In the United States, misdemeanors are seen as lesser offenses that are usually punished using fines. However, the Canadian government does not classify DUIs using a misdemeanor or felony. Rather, a DUI is a crime that may fall between a summary or an indictable offense. For this reason, even a misdemeanor DUI could make it difficult for you to travel to Canada.
5. An expunged DUI record is still a conviction in Canada
It is possible to have an old DUI felony expunged. However, the United States and Canada share their criminal records database. So, your expunged record will be available to the Canada Border Services Agency. The expunged DUI conviction could make you inadmissible to Canada.
6. Lying about your DUI could cause you to be banned from visiting Canada
When asked if you have been charged with a DUI, do not lie. The information you provide to border agents can be easily cross-checked. When the lie is discovered, you may be banned from visiting Canada for more than than 5 years.
Similarly, if your DUI records have been expunged or sealed, still acknowledge the DUI. If you deny having a DUI, the border agent may think that you are lying and penalize you for that.
Things you can do to gain entry into Canada if you have a DUI
1. Apply for criminal rehabilitation
You can apply for criminal rehabilitation five years after getting a DUI. Being approved for criminal rehabilitation will help you gain entry into Canada for life. To apply, you will need to fill the application form and provide the necessary documents.
You will need to explain the occurrence of the DUI and how you have changed since then. You have to provide proof of your rehabilitation as well.
Afterward, you will submit the application form and pay the application fee. It takes up to one year to be approved for criminal rehabilitation.
2. Apply for a temporary resident permit
If you need to visit Canada and cannot wait for the approval of the criminal rehabilitation application, this method is a great choice.
You are eligible to apply for a permit If you have completed your sentence or rehabilitation and it has been less than five years since you were charged with a DUI.
This is a temporary solution and you will need a good reason before you are given a temporary permit.
You will need to fill an application form and state why you need to visit Canada.
Afterward, you need to attach documents that support your reason for visiting Canada. After paying the application fee, your application will be processed.
The temporary resident permit will need to be renewed when it expires.
We recommend that you apply for criminal rehabilitation while you are using a temporary resident permit.