Can you go to Canada with a DUI if you are a performer, musician or in a band on tour?

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Having a DUI (driving under the influence) charge on your record can potentially prevent anyone from entering Canada, regardless of age, social status, job or available funds for travel. Some people wrongfully believe that having a valid US passport is enough to enter Canada and are unaware that a DUI can cause issues crossing into Canada. Often, people with a DUI will try to enter Canada for a vacation or to visit family in Canada only to be turned around once at the Canadian border. This can be  very frustrating and can become problematic when people must be allowed to enter Canada urgently as part of their job.

Entering Canada as part of scheduled tour or for a musical performance

The consequences of a refusal to enter Canada can become even more severe when the person with a DUI is of  notoriety and lives in the limelight, as is the case for example, with musicians, performers and bands. Many famous musicians and groups will include Canadian cities as part of their North American tours. They are, however, sometimes unaware that even if one member of the group has even one single DUI, the entire Canadian part of the tour could be compromised, unless they take the proper steps to resolve the issue, such as applying for, and obtaining, a temporary resident permit (TRP).

Whether it be the singer, the guitarist, the bassist, the drummer, or any other performing artist part of the group, having a DUI on record could prevent them from entering Canada, and put the entire show at risk. When fans pay to see an artist or a group perform, they expect those specific people to be present, and therefore, these performers cannot be easily replaced as fans don’t tolerate well missing out on seeing their idol on stage. A missing group member who was unable to enter Canada because of a past DUI can cause many headaches for the performing act, as well as for the organizers who may be faced with the possibility of a cancelled show, and having to refund those who purchased show tickets.

What can I do if I have a DUI but need to enter urgently on tour?

Any artist or band member should determine as soon as possible whether a DUI conviction could potentially lead to problems at the Canadian border. This is especially important, as it can happen that some musicians only learn that their DUI can prevent entry to Canada while already on tour, putting the entire Canadian portion of the tour at risk. The safest and most efficient way of determining whether a past DUI conviction or arrest could cause issues at the border would be to consult with an immigration lawyer. A specialized attorney in matters of inadmissibility can help determine the best way to resolve the situation and avoid any issues when entering Canada.

It is possible that having a single DUI conviction on record may not lead to denied entry to Canada if a specific set of requirements are met, such as not having had any other offense whatsoever on record or having completed all terms relating to the DUI conviction over ten years ago. In such a case, a lawyer’s official legal opinion can help explain why a performing artist should not be denied entry on the basis of a past DUI conviction, which should no longer be considered as ground for their inadmissibility.

Who needs a temporary resident permit (TRP) to enter Canada?

If it is determined that the performer or musician cannot enter Canada due to the DUI on record, for example, if they have been convicted of a DUI in the state of California, Washington, Texas or Illinois among others, less than 10 years ago, they could and would need to apply for a temporary resident permit (TRP). Such a permit, once granted, would allow the artist to enter Canada legally to perform as needed as part of their scheduled Canadian tour and would allow them to meet their contractual obligations. The TRP will also allow the artist to return to Canada for any future Canadian performances with a peace of mind knowing that they are admissible to enter Canada.

For further information regarding applications for a TRP or any general questions, please call us for a free consultation with a JTM Immigration lawyer at 1(844) 326-8410.