Canada treats drinking and driving as a serious offense and regularly refuses entry to Americans and other foreigners with DUI / DWI convictions. However, this policy has harmed tourism to Canada over the years and various tourism groups have lobbied the federal government for changes. In March of 2012, Citizenship and Immigration and Canada created a minor exception for people with only one conviction, to make it easier for tourists to visit Canada. This change in policy enforcement barely appeared in the media and so it is not very well known, however it is in effect until further notice.
If you are inadmissible to Canada only because of a DUI / DWI conviction, and you meet the following critieria, you may be eligible for a free temporary resident permit when you enter Canada:
- you did not serve jail time as part of your conviction;
- you are only inadmissible because of this conviction and for no other reasons (other criminal convictions, medical conditions, immigration violations).
If you meet these two criteria, you should be able to apply for a TRP, either in advance of your trip or at the border, and not have to pay the $200 fee.
A temporary resident permit (TRP) will allow those inadmissible to Canada to temporarily enter Canada. A successful Criminal Rehabilitation application will remove your inadmissibility and allow you to enter Canada without a TRP.