I Have A DUI. Can I Still Immigrate To Canada?

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that those who have a criminal record may not be able to enter the country. Lawmakers intended this law as a way to keep Canadians safe. Although a noble goal, it can pose a hurdle for individuals who wish to enter the country. As a result, anyone with a criminal record is wise to gather information to see how this record will impact their ability to enter Canada.

A drunk driving conviction is one example of a violation that can make it difficult to enter Canada. Even a record of an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) can pose problems but even with an arrest, previous DUI or other convictions, there are options to legally enter Canada. Three of the more common are discussed below.


Rehabilitation means that the Canadian government believes you are unlikely to commit the same or other crimes in the future. If deemed rehabilitated, the government basically says that there is no safety risk and the immigrant with a criminal record can still enter the country.

Canada authorities will review the following factors to determine if an individual is rehabilitated after a DUI conviction:

  • The crime. Officials will need a list of offences and information about the offence including the location and sentence imposed as well as a description of events that led to the offence and an explanation for why you consider yourself rehabilitated. You can provide information of completion of a rehabilitation program, community service, or successful employment history as evidence to support this claim.
  • The date of conviction. The Canadian government will want to know the date of the offence and sentence to help make its determination.
  • Whether you have more offences on your criminal record. It is important to include all offences.

In general, the government expects at least five years to pass since the end of a criminal sentence or the day of commission of the crime before it will consider an applicant for rehabilitation.

Record Suspension.

It is also possible to enter the country if you were granted a record suspension. Reach out to the visa office that serves your area if granted a record suspension or discharge of the conviction to see if the Canadian government will honor the pardon or not.

Temporary Resident Permit.

This option is available for those who have committed the offence less than five years ago and have valid reason to enter Canada. A Canadian immigration or border service officer will review your need to enter the country and determine if it outweighs any potential risk to the safety of the people of Canada.

It is important to know that Canadian officials are unlikely to let anyone enter the country with a criminal record who has not taken these steps. Officials have the power to take enforcement action against those who attempt to enter. This can include arrest, detain, or even removal. You can mitigate the risk of these enforcement actions by taking the time to get everything in order before attempting to enter the country.