DUI conviction could bar PAX from entering Canada

 - May 5, 2008, 12:02 PM

In recent months a number of reports have surfaced of U.S.-citizen business aviation travelers to Canada being denied entry and deported after accurately responding on an immigration questionnaire that they had been convicted of a felony, usually one involving conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

According to the office of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), such action is consistent with Canadian law, under which “operating a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft while impaired” is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years.

While a person who has committed such a criminal act is considered “criminally inadmissible” to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, provisions do exist to allow a person eligible for “deemed rehabilitation” to enter under the following conditions:

• If the person has been convicted of the equivalent of one single indictable offense only, punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years.
• And the passage of time of 10 years has elapsed since the date of conviction and/or end of sentence.

In addition to the “deemed rehabilitation” provision, “rehabilitation” provisions exist for people who do not meet the 10-year passage of time criteria for “deemed rehabilitation,” as well as for people convicted of “serious criminality.” Serious criminality is described as an offense for which a term of imprisonment exceeding 10 years can be imposed. The main differences between the two provisions are the degree of seriousness of the criminal offense, and the period of time elapsed: 10 years to qualify for the “deemed rehabilitation” provision; five years since the date of conviction and/or end of sentence to qualify for the “rehabilitation” provision.

An individual may opt to apply for “deemed rehabilitation” at a Canadian port of entry (POE), or at the nearest Canadian visa office or consulate abroad to confirm eligibility before arrival at a Canadian POE.

With regard to people ineligible for approval of “rehabilitation” because not enough time has passed, they may complete the CIC form at a POE and check the box marked “for information only.” At that point, an officer may decide if special permission for temporary admission is warranted.

Unlike “deemed rehabilitation,” which allows an officer the authority to process at a POE or visa office or consulate, a “rehabilitation” application can be processed only at a Canadian visa office or consulate or at the CIC national headquarters. Fees for the rehabilitation application are either $200 or $1,000, depending on the seriousness of the criminal offense. There is no fee for a “deemed rehabilitation” case at a POE.

For additional information, access the CIC Web site at www.cic.gc.ca/english/applications/rehabil.html. Information is also available from NBAA at www.nbaa.org/intl/ or by e-mailing NBAA director of international operations Bill Stine at bstine@nbaa.org.