What are the top offences that can bar you to Canada?
DUI / DWI / DWAI / OVI / OVUI / Wet Reckless
In most cases, a simple DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while impaired) will render a foreigner “inadmissible” to Canada. This includes any alcohol-related reckless driving offences such as a “Wet Reckless.”
A great number of DUI-convicted believe they are inadmissible because they think this is a felony offence in Canada. However, as in the United States, the majority of DUI dispositions in Canada consist of misdemeanor (summary) convictions. What makes a person inadmissible to Canada is not found in the criminal code but in our immigration rules whereby all misdemeanor and felony convictions are treated as a felony offence for the purposes of determining admissibility.
By far, a DUI and their equivalents – DWI, DWI, OVI, OVU – represent the most common cause for denied entry at the border or airport in Canada. In the majority of cases, a DUI conviction will render a foreign national “inadmissible” to Canada.
As a DUI is not considered to be extremely serious, when compared to a sex offence of aggravated assault, one of the short-term relief mechanisms available may include a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) which can override your “inadmissibility” for a specific period of time based on a narrow set of circumstances. These could include important family or company business or if a traveler is entering Canada for tourism and wasn’t aware of his inadmissibility. If you think you fit in any of the above, schedule a consultation to determine your eligibility for a waiver.
Reckless / Negligent Driving First Degree
While certain exceptions apply, a reckless driving conviction will render a foreign national inadmissible to Canada. A reckless driving conviction would include alcohol-related offences such as a “Wet Reckless” or a DUI/DWI.
In certain US jurisdictions, such as the state of Washington, a “Careless” (Class A) offence is the equivalent of a “Reckless” under the Canadian criminal code and will also render you inadmissible to Canada. In most jurisdictions, however, there is a legal distinction between a “Reckless” and a “Careless” or “Negligent” offence. Reckless driving offences remain one of the top inadmissible cases for US residents. A Reckless, or “Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle” to use the Canadian term, involves the “wanton disregard” for the life or safety of fellow motorists.
A Careless driver, on the other hand, is considered a departure from the standard of a prudent and reasonable driver to make the driver deserving of punishment but is generally not considered a criminal act. The difference is subtle but distinct in law.
Think of a “careless driver” as creating a “breach of duty to the public” and deserving punishment just like a speeding offender would, while the “reckless driver” as committing a crime and deserving of jail time and criminal sanctions.
While “careless driving” is a serious offence under most traffic laws in Canada, it is not a criminal offence and will not make you inadmissible to Canada. For instance, under the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario, careless driving is punishable by a $2,000 fine and you can have your license suspended for two years. A Dangerous Operation or Reckless conviction, however, is punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a fine.
If you have a reckless or some form of carless conviction, it is worth consulting an experienced immigration specialist who is familiar with both US and Canadian criminal statutes to assess if the equivalent offence in Canada constitutes inadmissibility. If your offence does not equate to the Canadian “Dangerous Operation” (Reckless), the onus will be on you to prove it.
Do not leave this important matter to chance. Our firm can prepare a legal opinion of non-inadmissibility to an officer at the border for a smoother entry in Canada. This would include a detailed explanation of the US and Canadian statutes for the purposes of determining inadmissibility (“Equivalency Analysis”).
As Reckless Driving and its derivatives are not considered to be extremely serious, when compared to a sex offence of aggravated assault, one of the short-term relief mechanisms available may include a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) which can override your “inadmissibility” for a specific period of time based on a narrow set of circumstances. These would include important family or company business or if a traveler is entering Canada for tourism and wasn’t aware of his inadmissibility. If you think you fit in any of the above, schedule a consultation to determine your eligibility for a waiver.
Mainstream Offences – Bad Check / Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF)
Bad Check offences, often known as “Non-Sufficient Funds”, are treated as “False Pretenses” under the Canadian criminal code and therefore will render a foreign person inadmissible. If the Bad Check in question is over $5,000, the foreign person may be declared inadmissible under “serious criminality.”
Not all bad check offences will render a person inadmissible. In Canada, certain elements of “bad intentions” are needed to obtain a conviction. In many US jurisdictions, however, a bad check is automatically presumed to be intentional.
If you have been convicted of a bad check offence, our firm can compare the relevant statutes where the conviction took place to the Canadian code to assess if the US has a broader NSF interpretation. If it does, and if the mere bad check offence implies that the client “did it on purpose”, our firm may be able to prepare a legal opinion of non-inadmissibility.
Bad Check offences are one of the top inadmissible cases for US residents. We have considerable experience in dealing with this situation and have learned what works and what doesn’t when determining if the US offence equates to inadmissibility under the Canadian criminal code.
Our Firm can also assist you in getting the Bad Check offence permanently resolved by way of a Criminal Rehabilitation application to a Canadian Consulate or Embassy. Alternately, if your travel is urgent and compelling, we can assist in finding a lawful entry solution by way of a Temporary Resident Permit which can override your inadmissibility for a limited period of time.
If you have a bad check offence, we recommend contacting our office to determine whether, given your set of circumstances, this would constitute inadmissibility. If inadmissible due to a bad check offence, our firm may be able to prepare a special waiver (Temporary Resident Permit) or file a pardon (Criminal Rehabilitation) that will permanently resolve your entry into Canada.