Thousands of travellers to Canada every year are surprised to find out that a past criminal record—even one committed many years ago—can make them inadmissible to Canada. Whether coming to work, study, or just planning a day of sightseeing, increased security at the Canadian border means that a past conviction can bar an individual from entering the country. One of the most frequent convictions often goes overlooked—DUI (driving under influence) or Impaired Driving.

A Temporary Resident Permit can take up to one year to obtain due to processing times at the Canadian Visa offices and time required to obtain necessary documentation. However, In 2012, the Government of Canada amended its rules so that certain people seeking entry to Canada can be issued a TRP upon arrival at a Canadian port of entry (as long as they have visa or from a visa-exempt country). These permits are only issued where there are compelling or urgent circumstances.

Not every applicant is eligible to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit at the border. The CBSA Officer will assess an application for TRP based the following factors:

  • Seriousness of the offence (see below);
  • Behavioural factors involved such as drugs and alcohol;
  • Evidence that the person has reformed or is rehabilitated;
  • Pattern of criminal behaviour (the offence is a single event and out of character);
  • Controversy (public controversial elements);
  • Settlement Risk (for foreign nationals wanting to immigrate to Canada).

The criminal offence is considered minor if:

  • The crime did not involve drugs, except for simple possession of marijuana/hashish;
  • The crime did not involve physical harm or violence;
  • The crime resulted in a suspended sentence or probation (no jail term, unless it was the result of plea bargaining);
  • The crime did not involve the damage to property (impaired driving resulting in an accident would not be eligible);

If on probation, the person has been fulfilling the conditions;

  • There are no more than two convictions.

It is always best to get your situation assessed by a professional. Please contact Pardon Services Canada to find out if you are eligible.