Traveling to Canada with an OWI Conviction

Can I Travel to Canada with a DUI?

In Wisconsin, the first offense of operating while intoxicated (OWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) can sometimes be a ticket that incurs a fee and a hefty amount of points on your driver's license, but it is not usually a felony. This matter is somewhat complicated if you plan on traveling across the border into Canada.

National Border guards operate under the banner of keeping "undesirables" out of their country. These can be contraband, stolen goods, illegal weapons or drugs, and people.

If you have been convicted of a DUI or OWI for drugs or alcohol, you are considered an undesirable by the Canadian government. For this reason, you may be denied entry at the Canadian border. As the TSA randomly selects people to be searched in airport security, so does the Canadian Border officials to background check US citizens passing through the border. Roughly 1 in 7 travelers are said to be screened. Chances are, a prior DUI charge will prevent your travel plans. There are, however, temporary visas you can apply for to gain access if you have to travel for business or to visit family.

Temporary Resident Permits

If you are inadmissible to Canada but have a reason for international travel that may justify the circumstances, you may be issued a temporary resident permit.

To be eligible for a temporary resident permit, your need for Canadian entry must outweigh the health or safety risks to Canadian society, as determined by an immigration officer or border safety official.

There is no guarantee that you will be issued a temporary resident permit, you must first prove that your visit if justified. If you would like to receive a permit, you will have to pay a processing fee, which is not refundable if the permit is denied.

The permit is usually issued for the length of your visit to Canada. If you have a week-long conference for business, that is how long your permit will be issued and you must leave the country on the day that it expires.

You should submit an application for a temporary permit along with supporting documents to explain why you are inadmissible and why it may be justified for you to enter Canada.

You may have to attend an interview so that an officer can process your application.

New Policy as of March 1, 2012

As of March 1, 2012, you may be able to get a temporary resident permit for one visit without paying the processing fee. This temporary visa may be granted if you served no jail time for your offense and have committed no other acts that would prevent you from entering Canada.

*Note: This article is meant only as an informational guide. A Canadian immigration officer will decide if you can enter Canada when you apply for a visa, an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) or when you arrive at a port of entry.

If you need legal assistance, contact our team for a consultation.

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