Canadian guide for international truck drivers with criminal records

Michael Schwartz, Matt Hendler
Published: July 15, 2021

Canada’s international trade depends on trucking, and Canadian trucking requires drivers — a lot more, in fact.

There are currently an estimated 20,000 vacant trucking jobs in the country. The need for labour is so great, for example, that Saskatchewan has created a specific long-haul truck drivers immigration stream. After the outbreak of coronavirus, Canada deemed international truckers essential workers. This status has exempted them from many of the main COVID19-related travel restrictions.

Contact a criminality expert at the Law Firm of Campbell Cohen

Trucking companies have an interest in hiring workers who can move between countries without any issues. A would-be trucker will want to make sure they are admissible to Canada. The same applies for truckers already employed: a recent offence can affect future travel.

If you are currently employed as a truck driver or looking for a job, you will want to show you are eligible to enter Canada. A criminal record can pose problems to entry. Fortunately, there are potential solutions.

Inadmissibility to Canada can arise from several factors. The most common, though, is a criminal past. Criminal inadmissibility will depend on the kind of crime and the sentence received. The most frequent offence seen amongst people who wish to come to Canada is driving under the influence (DUI). This term is sometimes known as driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI).

Canada takes DUI very seriously. In fact, since October 17, 2018, a person who drives under the influence can face up to ten years in prison. The DUI law applies to alcohol, cannabis, or any other restricted substance. If a person is convicted outside of Canada for a DUI that occurred after that date, they are inadmissible to Canada on the grounds of serious criminality. This status means, in theory, that the person is inadmissible to Canada forever. Other more serious offences, such as a felony in the US, can pose greater risks on entry to Canada due to the severity of the crime.

However, there are solutions available to truck drivers. The right one will depend on each individual’s situation.

The Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) makes a person admissible to enter Canada for a set amount of time. The TRP may last for a single day or up to three years. A TRP may be valid only for one entry, or for multiple ones. A traveler such as a truck driver, may be able to show a need to enter Canada repeatedly over a period of time. Work that requires repeatedly crossing the border is ideal when applying for a TRP. This need will make applicants more likely to receive a longer permit, that also allows multiple entries.

An individual can apply for a TRP in advance through a Canadian consulate or at a port of entry (POE). The POE path is only for American citizens or permanent residents. Also, it is typically discouraged for truck drivers. Being denied entry while transporting goods can affect future travel to Canada and employment. The process of applying at the consulate allows the applicant to obtain their TRP – or at least find out whether or not they will get one – in advance of a scheduled trip.

Criminal rehabilitation is a process that can make people who were criminally inadmissible to Canada admissible again. Eligibility depends on factors such as the crime committed, the sentence and how much time has passed since the sentence was completed.

Rehabilitation clears your past criminal record, for Canadian immigration purposes. If you have been convicted of a crime in a foreign country, and more than five years have passed since you completed your sentence, you are likely eligible to apply. In some cases the rehabilitation will be automatic. In others, though, you will have to prove why you deserve it. An approval means you would not require a TRP for entry. Criminal rehabilitation is also a permanent solution: unlike a TRP, rehabilitation never requires renewal.

A legal opinion letter is another option. A Canadian immigration lawyer can draft a legal opinion letter with details concerning the person’s charge and the lawyer’s legal conclusions on the situation. The purpose of the letter is to clarify the legal matter, identify risks and relevant Canadian law, and explain why the person should be deemed admissible to Canada.

Contact a criminality expert at the Law Firm of Campbell Cohen

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