Can You Go to – or Stay In – Canada with a DUI?

Have a DUI and Want to Come to Canada? Bill C-46 Could Make that a Lot Harder

Bill C-46 makes changes to the Criminal Code that will have repercussions for permanent residents, potential immigrants, and visitors to Canada with a DUI.

What is Bill C-46?

As the Parliament of Canada website explains, Bill C-46 makes changes to the Criminal Code regarding transportation-related offenses, including drinking or doing drugs and driving. The intent is to more thoroughly discourage people from driving dangerously or while impaired. The following are some of the changes being made, which come into force in December of 2018:DUI effect on Foreigners entering Canada

Part 1:

(a) enact new criminal offences for driving with a blood drug concentration that is equal to or higher than the permitted concentration;

(b) authorize the Governor in Council to establish blood drug concentrations; and

(c) authorize peace officers who suspect a driver has a drug in their body to demand that the driver provide a sample of a bodily substance for analysis by drug screening equipment that is approved by the Attorney General of Canada.

Part 2:

(a) re-enact and modernize offences and procedures relating to conveyances;

(b) authorize mandatory roadside screening for alcohol;

(c) establish the requirements to prove a person’s blood alcohol concentration; and

(d) increase certain maximum penalties and certain minimum fines.

Essentially, there will be harsher penalties for driving while under the influence and increased screening for drivers under the influence.


What does this mean for potential immigrants and visitors to Canada?

This means stricter rules for permanent residents and foreign visitors to Canada regarding criminal inadmissibility connected to DUIs and related offenses. Some offenses can prevent a person from entering or settling in Canada, making them criminally inadmissible. Previously, a visitor to Canada would have to prove that they were rehabilitated after a DUI conviction or one of the other offenses connected to the bill, but ten years without criminal activity after such an offense would result in them being deemed rehabilitated. Now, however, because a DUI will count as a more serious offence, a potential visitor will have to go through a much more complex process to apply to overcome their criminal inadmissibility.

Similarly, the increase in the severity of a DUI conviction will also mean that permanent residents who are charged with such an offense will be more likely to face deportation, especially if the offense occurs outside Canada. Those hoping to become permanent residents with DUIs on their records will also face increased difficulties with applying, as their offences will be considered more severe. The more severe the offense, the more significant the hurdles to overcoming criminal inadmissibility become.

What can you do if you have a DUI (or any of the other offences affected) and want to come to or stay in Canada?

Issues of criminality always complicate immigration applications, but the seriousness of the offence affects how much more difficult the process is. Luckily, you’re not alone. An immigration professional can help you make sense of the process and your chances. If you need help handling an immigration application that includes criminal inadmissibility to Canada, contact us.