Who can be stopped at the Canadian Border?
For the past decade honeymooners, anglers, hunters, and other tourists vacationing in Canada have been rejected at the border. Why: Increased U.S./Canada border security.
Canadian border officials have the right to deny entry to individuals having a single DWI or other misdemeanor on their criminal records. Consequently, thousands of Americans have been snared by the increase in border security in recent years.
In March of 2012, after years of turning back Americans with drunken-driving and other misdemeanor convictions, Canadian border officials relaxed their entry restrictions. But the changes won't apply to those with multiple convictions or more serious offenses.
Can this affect me?
Business travelers, honeymooners, hunters, anglers and tourist with more than one conviction will still be denied entry. “I have dozens of clients either turned away or know they can't get into Canada," said attorney, Satveer Chaudhary, in a 2012 StarTribune newspaper article. "I have a client who was going with a group of friends to Winnipeg for a softball tournament. He had a prior DWI from years before, and was denied entry. He spent the weekend at Pembina, N.D., waiting for his friends to return to pick him up.”
The 2012 Citizenship and Immigration Canada policy changes allow for a single free Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) to enter Canada for those with one minor conviction. Americans with convictions still would have to go through a "rehabilitation" process to permanently clear their record, but the TRP could prevent their rejection at the border for some criminal issues.
While many convictions can prevent entry, DWIs, Reckless Driving, Drug Possession, Theft and Assault are the most commonly seen. Even dismissal of a charge can prevent entry to Canada. A simple matter here may be a big deal in Canada, and since the Canadian border officials can access FBI criminal history records, downplaying one’s past is dangerous.
A key unanswered question is whether the new TRP permit will give an American just one entry into Canada, or whether it would be good for a longer period of time.
Can’t I do this myself?
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has wide discretion in allowing those with prior offenses to enter Canada.
We don’t necessarily defend Canadian policy and, indeed, the U.S. has similar rules of entry. But, the goal is to offer successful solutions to those affected. The processes take time and paperwork beforehand, but can ensure your trip proceeds without delay or embarrassment if turned away at the border.
You can apply for “rehabilitation” if an offense was 5 or 10 years from the completion of your sentence, and can show you are now law abiding. Still, immigration rules are fraught with red tape. Any incomplete documentation can easily result in rejection or delay. Required FBI records complaints, orders, sentences, restitution, and probationary documents can be hard to track down. So sometimes it helps to “turf it off” to those with experience in these matters.
It’s important to note that only Canadian lawyers, consultants, or notaries can represent a client for compensation before the Canadian immigration service. Our firm partners with Canadian attorneys so clients have the comfort of a local attorney while adhering to Canadian rules.
Every person’s background is different, so it’s worth a call to discuss how you may be affected. Chaudhary Law Office offers a free consultation anywhere in the US and can partner with Canadian businesses as well.