If it has been 12 years since the completion of your sentence for the DUI in the U.S. you may be eligible to seek deemed rehabilitation at a Canadian port of entry (POE) upon your arrival, however, you should be well prepared to make this request and ensure you have the necessary information or documents in hand to prove that it is only one conviction from 12 years ago.
Don’t expect that just because your drunk driving charge happened a long time ago that it won’t affect you when trying to enter Canada.
Canada and the U.S. share information concerning national security and policing and if you have not had your American criminal record expunged, when you arrive at a Canadian POE, the officer examining you will have access to your criminal history, regardless of whether the offence happened 2 years ago or 20 years ago.
The good news is that if it has been 12 years since the completion of your sentence you may be qualify for deemed rehabilitation at a Canadian POE. Eligibility depends on several factors, such as the seriousness of the crime you committed, if it was only one conviction or several and whether the offence would be punishable by a prison term of less than 10 years.
Were you stopped at a check stop, or pulled over because you were driving erratically? Did you refuse to provide a breath sample to police? Did you cause bodily harm to anyone involved? Was someone killed because of the incident? These factors affect how the Canadian criminal equivalency of your drunk driving conviction will be assessed.
It should also be noted that although driving while impaired is a “hybrid offence” (punishable by a fine or by jail time) under the Canadian Criminal Code, for the purpose of immigration analysis it is always treated as though it were an indictable offence (punishable by jail time).
When seeking deemed rehabilitation at a POE you must bring all the documentation you have related to your criminal history and rehabilitation with you and you must be prepared to make your case to an immigration officer. Having an immigration lawyer to help you prepare for this application may be the difference between success and failure.
If it has been less than 10 years since the completion of your sentence, don’t lose hope. We can still assist you to make a Criminal Rehabilitation or a Temporary Residence Permit (“TRP”) application through the through the Canadian Consulate so that you can enter Canada temporarily for an important meeting or a special event.