That’s exactly what happened shortly before 9/11 to Steve, a Cleveland native, traveling with buddies to a softball tournament in Manitoba. Questioned at the Canada/ North Dakota border, Steve revealed a long ago DWI to Canadian authorities. Immigration officials then questioned him for three hours regarding the offense, and finally denied Steve’s entrance. He lost the time driving to Canada, wasted the deposit for his Canadian hotel and missed out on the wonderful male bonding experience. So while the rest of his team played softball in Winnipeg, Steve spent the weekend alone in downtown Pembina, North Dakota, exploring the local gas station and church museum, until his team picked him up days later on their way home. A wasted opportunity, because Steve failed to realize that due to a long ago conviction, he needed to legally prepare or be left behind at the border.
Like Steve, anyone with a criminal conviction will require unique legal assistance before travelling to Canada for any reason. Most Americans take entry into Canada for granted, and often consider it simply a borderless extension of the United States where people say “Eh.” The reality is strikingly different. So, before you book that work meeting, vacation with the kids, honeymoon or elk-hunting trip, it’s really important to consider the issues relating to any prior legal entanglements and that Canadian border. These issues include who can enter the country, who can be excluded, how you can overcome exclusion, and how someone who is ineligible can nonetheless seek entry to Canada.