Introduction: As anyone in recovery can tell you, old sins have long shadows. Long after we’ve sobered up and begun living a healthy life, we can still be confronted with the consequences of bad decisions during our drinking or using days! Plan on traveling to Canada soon? Guest Author Marisa Feil discusses a particular consequence of an all-too-common bad decision: driving while drunk or high.

Although your days of driving drunk or stoned might be in the past, the consequences from a DUI or DWI on your criminal record are lasting and can affect your ability to travel internationally. Should you need to travel to Canada, for business, pleasure or an event (such as a wedding), you’ll have to use legal remedies to help you recover from your past in the eyes of the law.

If you have been convicted of a DUI or a DWI in a foreign country and wish to enter Canada, you are considered criminally inadmissible and you must receive permission from the Canadian Federal Government in at least one of two ways: a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) and/or Criminal Rehabilitation.

A TRP is like a hall-pass: it allows you to enter Canada for a specific time period for a specified reason (like the wedding example mentioned above). Criminal Rehabilitation is something you might want to consider if you will have need to travel to and from Canada frequently, such as for business. If deemed Criminally Rehabilitated, your DUI or DWI will be wiped from your criminal record in the eyes of the Canadian Federal Government.

Both processes require some time to complete, but the clean slate and fresh conscience you achieve with the absolution of your criminal record by the Canadian government will make it entirely worth your while. Additionally, it may be beneficial to consider obtaining a TRP for your immediate and necessary travel to Canada, while simultaneously applying for Criminal Rehabilitation to make travelling easier in the future.

There are some details you should be aware of should you pursue obtaining either a TRP or Criminal Rehabilitation:

Temporary Resident Permit

If you apply for a TRP, you are required to demonstrate that there is a significant reason for you to enter Canada. You may need a TRP if less than five years have elapsed since the completion of your sentence (as you are not qualified to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation), or if more than five years have elapsed since the completion of your sentence and you have not applied for/not received a positive decision on an application for Criminal Rehabilitation. A TRP permits temporary admissibility for foreign workers, foreign students or visitors but not for any permanent residency procedures. It does not remove your inadmissibility, but will only make your temporarily admissible.

You can apply for a TRP as Canadian visa offices or at a port of entry (United States/Canada border crossings). For more information on Temporary Resident Permits, click here.

Criminal Rehabilitation

If more than 10 years have passed since the completion of your sentence, you may be deemed rehabilitated and applying for Criminal Rehabilitation will not be necessary. Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation is essentially requesting absolution from the Government of Canada for a particular crime committed in a foreign country. If you are successfully rehabilitated, you will be able to travel hassle-free to Canada whenever you want.

In order to be eligible, you (a) must have committed an act outside of Canada that would constitute an offence under a Federal statute, (b) must have been convicted of, or admitted to committing the act, and (c) five years must have passed since the full sentence was completed (including jail time, fines and probation). If you have more than one criminal conviction on your record, you will never be deemed rehabilitated simply by the passage of time (as outlined above) and you must apply for rehabilitation.

Closure is a great aid to the process of recovery, as it allows you to shut the door to that part of your life and move forward to newer, better things. Obtaining absolution from the Canadian government will not only provide this closure, but it will also make your travelling free of hassle or constraints. For more information and help on navigating these worthwhile processes, please visit Foreign Worker Canada.

Attorney Marisa Feil is an accomplished entrepreneur who established her own flourishing practice, FWCanada.  As a member of the Canadian Bar Association and the Barreau du Quebec, she has established herself as a respected authority on Canadian immigration law. You can find her on Twitter as @FWCanada. She’s also on Facebook and has a LinkedIn profile.