Going to Canada with a DWI Conviction?

Are you planning a trip to Canada anytime soon? If so, and you have a prior conviction for DWI, there are additional steps you may need to take to prepare for your trip. As always, the following is a general synopsis that is not meant as legal advice. Everyone’s circumstances are fact specific and vary. We encourage you to consult with an immigration attorney before making your trip. However, it is important to note that a person may be denied a visa, refused entry to, or removed from Canada for conviction of a crime. This includes the offense of Driving While Impaired. However, with conviction of DWI, the individual may still be allowed to come to Canada, if they:

  1. are ‘deemed rehabilitated’ by an immigration officer, or
  2. have been approved for individual rehabilitation, or
  3. have been granted a record suspension (not applicable for NC convictions), or
  4. have a temporary resident permit.


If a traveler has only been convicted of a single DUI offence and a period of 10 years has passed since the completion of the entire sentence, then the traveler may have been Deemed Rehabilitated. A traveler does not have to apply to be deemed rehabilitated, but should be sure they qualify before entering the country. Assessment for qualification for US residents may be conducted at a Canadian Port of Entry.  Documents related to the traveler’s criminal history will be necessary to support a claim of rehabilitation. A list of these documents can be found on the Canadian immigration web-site. An immigration officer at the port of entry will review them to determine eligibility as ‘Deemed Rehabilitated’. If a traveler is not deemed rehabilitated, or is not sure that will be deemed rehabilitated at the point of entry, they should apply for individual rehabilitation at a visa office.


“Individual Rehabilitation” means that they are not likely to commit new crimes. Individual Rehabilitation lies in the discretion of the Canadian Minister or their delegate. At least five years must have passed since the date of criminal offense or end of a criminal sentence (including supervised or unsupervised probation), whichever comes later. Applications should be made to the Canadian visa office that serves the country or region where you live. An applicant must meet certain criteria, have been rehabilitated, and be unlikely to take part in further crimes. A processing fee is required. Travelers should review the visa office website to see whether the office has any special requirements.

3. Record suspensions are only applicable to Canadian citizens.


If a traveler is otherwise inadmissible but has reason to travel to Canada that is justified in the circumstances, they may be issued a temporary resident permit. To be eligible for a temporary resident permit, the traveler’s need to enter or stay in Canada must outweigh the health or safety risks to Canadian society, as determined by an immigration or a border services officer. Even if the reason for inadmissibility seems minor, the traveler must demonstrate that the visit is justified.

TRP’s require a processing fee (C$200)(subject to change), which is not refundable, to cover the cost of processing. There is no guarantee that a traveler will be issued a temporary resident permit. The fee will not be refunded if the permit is refused. Travelers should consult the visa office website or an immigration attorney for specific payment instructions.

A permit is usually issued for the length of a visit to Canada—for example, one week to attend a conference. A permittee must leave Canada by the expiration of the permit, or get a new permit before the current permit expires. The permit is no longer valid once the permittee leaves Canada, unless they have specifically been authorized to leave and re-enter. A permit may be cancelled by an officer at any time. Travelers, who are US Citizens, who seek a TRP should check the visa office to find out about specific application procedures.  An interview may be required to assess the traveler’s application.

In summary, the best way to avoid any issue is to avoid a conviction. If you have been charged with Driving While Impaired, consult our Criminal Defense Team. Call today for a free consultation.


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