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So what happens when you have a DUI or another criminal defense here in the States, and you want to go to Canada? Is it enough that you get your passport, stop at the border, and go right on through. Not so much.

Having a criminal conviction like a DUI, which is common enough here in the States, is a big deal to the friends in our attic.

Canada has something called criminal inadmissibility, which means, hey we don’t want you here if you committed a crime. And Canada has historically been pretty difficult about this. Until they realized how much it was hurting tourism. So the rules are loosening a bit.

As of March1, 2012, persons with criminal convictions who wish to enter Canada can obtain a temporary resident permit which allows you to visit Canada one time, without a fee (You used to have to pay to get this permit). However, in order to get this permit, you have to meet a few requirements:

you did not serve any jail time for the conviction and you have committed no other disqualifying acts (other crimes).

So what about everyone that doesn’t meet those requirements?

You can also apply for rehabilitation. But this  has some stringent requirements as well. Five years have had to have passed since the conviction, including probation and parole, and you have to show a stable life with employment and references. A decision on rehabilitation can take up to a year, so plan carefully.You can also obtain the status of deemed rehabilitated, if you have only had one conviction and it has been more than ten years since the conviction.

Finally, if you are planning on going to Canada, and have a pending trial or charges, or a warrant out for your arrest, going to Canada is not the best idea.

The difficulties in going to Canada while having a criminal conviction are becoming a little easier, but it is still something you have to plan for and should consult with an attorney about, lest you pack your bags and get to the border, and be turned away.