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Canada Considers Easing of Cross-Border Travel Restrictions on U.S. DUI Offenders

August 1, 2011 | Posted In Resources - Criminal Law, Immigration 

A DUI conviction in New Jersey can also mean severe restrictions on travel to Canada.  That country’s current cross-border travel rules place limitations on the entry of Americans with criminal convictions, including convictions for shoplifting, drug crimes and DUI on their record.  The situation, however, could soon change, as lobbying groups in Canada nudge the government toward relaxing the rules.

According to a report in the Vancouver Sun, information obtained under Canada's access-to-information laws shows that Canadian tourism officials, including representatives of the hunting and fishing industries, have been lobbying the Canadian government to relax the rules against allowing Americans with DUI convictions easy entry into the country.  These lobbyists say that border officers are being forced to turn away too many people with DUI convictions.  This is having a negative impact on the tourism industry in Canada.

Under the current laws, an American with a DUI conviction can only enter Canada when certain requirements are met. These include:

  • It must have been at least 10 years since the DUI conviction; or
  • If only five years have passed since the DUI conviction, the person can apply for a visa, but can expect to wait a long time for the visa application to be processed; or
  • Persons with DUI convictions can also apply for a temporary resident permit, but these permits are not handed out easily. 

The Canadian Border Services Agency President Luc Portelance says that his agency is looking at ways that travel restrictions on Americans with DUI convictions can be relaxed.  For instance, one option would be allowing U.S. citizens with convictions for lower offenses, like DUI convictions, to enter the country.  Another issue is that many Americans are unaware of these travel restrictions after a conviction and find out only at the border.  This leads to uncomfortable and often thorny situations, and the Canadian officials need to address this, too.

The New Jersey DUI lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman  represent persons charged with DUI across New Jersey.


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