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A DUI can stop you from visiting Canada unless you plan ahead

Did you know that being convicted of DUI in the United States can affect your ability to travel to Canada? Even an old DUI can affect your eligibility. If you're planning to visit our neighbor to the north and have ever been convicted of drunk driving, you will need to take steps to overcome the legal barrier.

Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act bans foreign visitors who have been convicted of certain crimes. The offenses that can block admission to Canada include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The process of overcoming criminal inadmissibility depends on the crime you were convicted of and how long it has been since you completed your sentence. Offenses adjudicated in the juvenile courts generally do not affect your ability to enter Canada.

You could be deemed rehabilitated after 5 to 10 years, which allows you to enter Canada.

Suppose you have been convicted of two DUIs around 15 years ago, and you completed your sentence, including probation and all court orders, over five years ago. You can ask a Canadian immigration officer to deem you rehabilitated. There are specific criteria for being deemed rehabilitated, and you must meet them all.

Generally, you can be deemed rehabilitated 10 years after completing most felony sentences. If you committed two or more misdemeanors such as DUI, you must have completed your sentences over five years ago.

U.S. citizens who qualify for deemed rehabilitation can apply at any Canadian port of entry. You would need to bring certain documents regarding your conviction and the completion of your sentence, along with certain evidence that you have not been convicted of another crime.

You may be found individually rehabilitated, allowing entry.

If you aren't eligible to be deemed rehabilitated, you may still apply for individual rehabilitation. You must convince an immigration officer that you meet the criteria and have been rehabilitated - which means you are considered highly unlikely to commit further crimes. Also, five years must have passed since the completion of your sentence.

You should be aware that applications for an individual rehabilitation certificate can take over a year to process.

Ineligible for a rehabilitation certificate? You may still get a temporary resident permit.

If less than five years have passed since you completed your sentence, there may still be a way to travel to Canada. You could be issued a temporary resident permit if your need to come to Canada outweighs the safety and health risks to Canadian society. An immigration or border services officer will determine if it does.

You will be required to pay a non-refundable application fee and provide a justification for your visit to Canada.

DUI convictions have many consequences; not being able to visit Canada is one among many. An attorney can give you more information.

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