Can I study in Canada if I have a criminal offense such as a DUI on my record?

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Canada has one of the best education systems in the world. For that reason every year, as well as for the 2017-2018 school year, many international students plan on coming to Canada in order to study at colleges and universities in cities such as Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Waterloo and Edmonton, among others . Some students want to come to Canada for the experience of living and studying in a new country, others do it because a specific program is offered only in a Canadian institution, or because a given university or college enjoys a stellar reputation in a particular field, be it engineering, computer science, medicine, finance or law.

Before applying for a program at a particular college or university, the potential student would have to determine whether a study permit will be required or not in order to come to Canada, as for example, in cases where a study program is less than six months in duration, a study permit will not be necessary. However, if the program is longer in duration a study permit will need to be obtained. In addition to, and even prior to applying for a study permit, the student must make sure that he or she is, in fact, admissible to enter Canada.

Can I study in Canada if I have a DUI on my record?

What many would-be students fail to verify, or even realize, is that even before considering if a study permit is necessary, having a DUI (Driving Under the Influence), DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), OWI (Operation While Intoxicated) or any other offense, such as reckless driving, possession of a controlled substance (even marijuana), assault or theft can jeopardize any hopes or plans of studying abroad in Canada. This is due to the fact that having even one single DUI can render you inadmissible to enter Canada and prevent you from being able to obtain a study permit or work visa and enter Canada at all, even on a temporary basis. The student would therefore have to first resolve the matter of inadmissibility before applying for a study permit.

What steps do I need to take to be able to study in Canada despite a DUI?

A student who wishes to enter Canada in order to study, but who has a DUI or other offense on their record would first need to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). This is an application through which the applicant discloses the offenses that he or she has on record, such as a DUI, and explains their reason for having to enter Canada. If approved, the permit will be granted for a specific period of time, and up to a maximum of three years a time. During this time, the applicant can enter Canada and take part in their study program. Once the permit expires, the student would have to leave Canada. However, it is always possible to request a new permit if the circumstances are justified.

A second possible solution, and one of a permanent nature, but which entails a longer processing time, is that of applying for criminal rehabilitation. Through this application, an applicant can disclose their offenses and request that they be considered rehabilitated. If the application is approved, the applicant will no longer be considered inadmissible, regardless of the DUI, DWI, OWI or any other offense on record, and will therefore be allowed to enter Canada again without requiring a Temporary Resident Permit.

What if my only DUI was over 10 years ago?

Under certain specific circumstances, a person may be allowed entry to Canada despite having had a previous offense or conviction on record. In some cases where a person, for example, has only a single DUI on record and nothing else, and the DUI was dismissed, a person could possibly be allowed entry into Canada. Furthermore, in the case where a person has had nothing more than a single DUI and over ten years have passed since the completion of all conditions pertaining to the conviction, it may also be possible to enter Canada without the necessity of applying for a temporary resident permit or for criminal rehabilitation. As such cases are contingent upon certain specific conditions, it is recommended that you consult with an immigration lawyer to determine whether such situations apply in your case.

Will I need to get an eTA if I am going to study in Canada and have a criminal record?

It should also be noted that an electronic travel authorization (eTA) is required for permanent residents of the United States (but not for US citizens) who plan on entering Canada by air, be it to visit Canada or to study. However, those who are inadmissible because of a DUI, DWI, possession of a controlled substance or other offense, and have applied for and successfully obtained a TRP, are dispensed from the obligation of requesting an eTA.

Questions specific to your case? Contact us

Should you have any specific questions, we invite you to contact us by phone or by email. Contacting JTM Immigration means dealing directly with one of our immigration lawyers, who can advise you on various solutions as part of a free consultation. Call us at 1-844-326-8410.