Canada, O, Canada: Traveling up north with shared custody or a DVPO

With the current exchange rate and relaxed requirement entries post COVID, many people are considering traveling up North to our northern neighbor Canada.  But what if you have a DUI, felony or assault conviction?   What are the rules for travel?  Many people are unsure. Read on to find out more…

Potential travelers to Canada do not always realize that a prior assault arrest or conviction may render a person “criminally inadmissible” to Canada and force  them to be rejected by border agents at the border. Regardless of whether or not the offense was classified as a felony or a misdemeanor, any American with an arrest or conviction for assault may be considered inadmissible to Canada if the crime is equivalent to a hybrid or indictable offense under Canadian law.

The Canadian border is very strict.  Would be visitors with a criminal history that involves violence in any way can face particularly harsh scrutiny from any and all immigration officials. Even if a person has been simply arrested for assault (including domestic battery or domestic violence) and is waiting for trial on allegations of the same, they still risk being refused by Canadian immigration officials since the border treats pending criminal charges essentially the same as a conviction.

To overcome criminal inadmissibility in order to visit Canada with an assault record, a person needs a Canada Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Permanent Rehabilitation. Even if the conviction is for an isolated domestic violence incident and is not considered a serious offense, such as misdemeanor common assault, it can render a person inadmissible to Canada for life.

Under Canadian law, Deemed Rehabilitation after ten years is not possible if an offense involved “physical harm to any person”. As such, most convictions for assault or domestic violence, even if the domestic dispute was very minor, can put the person at risk of being denied entry to Canada forever unless they overcome their inadmissibility by obtaining a TRP or undergoing Rehabilitation. Unless the statute explicitly includes “not causing bodily injury” or similar language, applying for Criminal Rehabilitation is typically the only way an American can gain access to Canada long-term.

Some people ask if having a domestic violence protection order, which is a civil order, can impact their ability to go to Canada. The answer is yes, it may be difficult for you to travel from the US to Canada if you have a protection order against you.

Canadian law prohibits individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes or who have a protection order against them from entering Canada. If you have a protection order against you, it is possible that you may be denied entry at the border.

In addition, if you have a custody agreement that allows you to travel with your child, you may need to provide documentation and obtain permission from the other parent before traveling. If the other parent objects to the trip or if there are restrictions on your ability to travel, it may not be possible for you to travel to Canada with your child.

Before you travel, it would be a good idea to consult with a family law attorney who is familiar with both US and Canadian law and who can advise you on the specifics of your situation. They can help you understand your legal rights and obligations and provide guidance on how to proceed.

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