The Canadian government has, for the past few years, conducted an unprecedented crackdown on Americans who have been convicted of drunk driving. By law, U.S. citizens with DUI convictions can enter Canada only if certain conditions are met. They can enter if they have had 10 crime-free years since their conviction. If at least five years have passed, they can apply for a visa, but applications can take more than a year to process. The last option is to apply for a temporary resident permit, but these are handed out only in “exceptional” cases. In the worst cases, American have been caught off-guard by their inadmissibility and lost money, vacations and/or business opportunities. David Goldstein, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada,said the number of American tourists who spent at least one night Canada has steadily fallen from 15 million in 2002 to 11.7 million in 2010. (As quoted in the Vancouver Sun article below). Goldstein said it’s not just outdoor enthusiasts who are being turned away for long-ago DUI convictions, but business people who are coming to Canada to attend conferences.
Fearing the loss of business, and the possible impact on fishing and hunting tourism, Canadian tourism officials are lobbying for a relaxation of the rules. As quoted in the Vancouver Sun, Canada Border Services Agency president Luc Portelance said CBSA and Citizenship and Immigration Canada were reviewing different options to relax some of the restrictions and “reduce bilateral irritants with the U.S.” For instance, they are considering letting border guards to allow entry “of foreign nationals with less serious inadmissibilities, including some DUI cases.” They are also looking at ways to improve communication with American travellers “caught off-guard by their inadmissibility” and to simplify relief options for them. David Goldstein, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, said Friday he is encouraged the government is talking about loosening some of the rules.