Can a Canadian with a DUI Enter the US?

If you’re wondering if you can enter the U.S. if you have a DUI on your record, the short answer is likely yes, provided you obey all customs regulations. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency is generally more lenient regarding DUI charges than the Canadian Border Services Agency when determining an individual’s admissibility.

What do U.S. customs officials say about DUIs and travel to the U.S.?

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency “A single DUI conviction is not grounds to deny entry into the U.S. However, multiple DUI convictions or a DUI conviction in combination with other misdemeanor offenses can make a person inadmissible and require a waiver prior to entering the United States.”

If you have a DUI in Canada and are traveling to the U.S.A., there are still steps you need to take to ensure that you’re able to cross the border.

Can U.S. Customs see my criminal record?

This is a common question for people trying to enter the U.S. with a criminal record. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency has access to national Canadian police databases, which are managed by the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), a branch of the RCMP. CPIC allows U.S. customs officials to access criminal records, non-conviction records, cases under investigation, criminal intelligence information, motor vehicle and driver registry information for the purposes of facilitating immigration, trade and travel.

Keep in mind that some information taken at the local level may not be transferred to the CPIC database. However, if any charge or conviction appears in the national Canadian police database, you can be sure that U.S. border officials will be able to see it.

Can I cross the U.S. border with a criminal conviction?

The answer to this question depends on the number and types of convictions. For example, one summary offence is not generally sufficient to refuse your entry into the U.S., especially if the offence is viewed as minor by U.S. agents.

It’s important to note that you will be required to produce verifiable documentation to prove the nature of your offences. At the end of the day, your entry is at the discretion of the U.S. Border Agent. Should they feel that your documentation is not sufficient to prove the nature of the conviction, you would likely be denied entry.

Crossing the U.S. Border with a DUI? Get a U.S. entry waiver.

Obtaining a U.S. entry waiver is the best way for Canadians to avoid problems crossing the U.S. border with a DUI or minor criminal charge. If the U.S. government does not require you to have a waiver to cross the border, they will respond to your waiver application with a letter stating so. You can use this letter to prove your admissibility to the U.S. Border Agent.

If you do require a waiver, your application will be processed and you’ll receive a waiver which will be valid from 1 to 5 years. Having a waiver will allow you to enter the U.S. regardless of your past charges and/or convictions.

Attempting to cross the border without a U.S. Waiver

If you attempt to cross the border with a criminal conviction and mention it to the U.S. Border Agent without any supporting paperwork, you are likely to be refused entry, even if the conviction was a minor summary offence. You’ll also likely be told to provide the paperwork next time.

If you return to the border with a criminal record check, which doesn’t show that your minor conviction is a summary offence, you’ll likely be refused entry again and asked to provide supporting court documents. The cycle can repeat itself many times and can be extremely frustrating.

In this case, the best approach would have been to obtain a decision from the U.S. government by applying for a U.S. waiver. Whether you actually need a waiver or not to enter the U.S. you’ll receive a clear decision in writing, which will eliminate the hassles and headaches of the previous scenario.

Applying for a U.S. waiver

Applying for a U.S. waiver is best done with the help of a qualified professional. You can always attempt the process on your own, but having the right knowledge and experience on your side can help minimize the chances that there will be issues with your application. A U.S. waiver will require a lot of paperwork and supporting documents, so it’s best to start the process of gathering information as soon as possible.

If you need help with a U.S. waiver application or have questions about the process, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us.


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