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IMMIGRATE TO CANADA WITH DUI

by Andy J. Semotiuk
Member of the US and Canadian bars
What If I Have A DUI and Want to Enter Canada?

To begin, in Canada a DUI is a felony and therefore an excludable offense under the Immigration Act. A DUI is an indictable offense in Canada that may be punished by imprisonment for up to a 5 year term.

Anyone with a conviction in the United States that is treated as a felony or indictable offense in Canada is excludable from Canada, but even if the offense is not a felony or indictable offense in Canada, Customs and Immigration Officers have ultimate authority to permit and deny entry to Canada.

Almost all convictions (including DUI, DWI, reckless driving, negligent driving, misdemeanor drug possession, all felonies, domestic violence (assault IV), shoplifting, theft, etc) can make a person inadmissible to Canada, regardless of when they occurred. For this reason, it is not recommended that persons with past convictions attempt to enter Canada without first obtaining necessary documents. It is always the final decision of officers at ports of entry to decide whether a person should be allowed into Canada.

The reason for this exclusion is contained in Canadian law. The Canadian Immigration Act, in section 19; states:

  • No immigrant and, except as provided in subsection (3), no visitor shall be granted admission if the immigrant or visitor is a member of any of the following classes:

    - persons who have been convicted in Canada of an indictable offence, or of an offence for which the offender may be prosecuted by indictment or for which the offender is punishable on summary conviction, that may be punishable under any Act of Parliament by a maximum term of imprisonment of less than ten years, other than an offence designated as a contravention under the Contraventions Act;
  •  Persons who there are reasonable grounds to believe

    - have been convicted outside Canada of an offence that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence that may be punishable by way of indictment under any Act of Parliament by a maximum term of imprisonment of less than ten years, or

    - have committed outside Canada an act or omission that constitutes an offence under the laws of the place where the act or omission occurred and that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence that may be punishable by way of indictment under any Act of Parliament by a maximum term of imprisonment of less than ten years, except persons who have satisfied the Minister that they have rehabilitated themselves and that at least five years have elapsed since the expiration of any sentence imposed for the offence or since the commission of the act or omission, as the case may be;

Later, in section 3 of the Immigration Act, there is a provision that permits discretionary entry:

A senior immigration officer or an adjudicator, as the case may be, may grant entry to any person who is a member of an inadmissible class described in subsection (2) subject to such terms and conditions as the officer or adjudicator deems appropriate and for a period not exceeding thirty days, where, in the opinion of the officer or adjudicator, the purpose for which entry is sought justifies admission.

Again, the Canadian Consulate emphasizes that this entry is discretionary, and in the post 9/11 aftermath, officers are more typically exercising their discretion to deny entry than to grant entry. Even if a Canadian Consulate has approved a client's entry, the border person can still reject the person. Finally, there is a permit process that requires prior application and may permit an otherwise excludable person to enter Canada.

For help in filing your application contact me at Andy@myworkvisa.com or call my office at the number indicated on this site.
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