If you have a drunk driving conviction in San Diego County, or anywhere in California, and you want to enter into Canada you may be inadmissible and denied entry whether the conviction was for a misdemeanor or a felony.
Although you may be criminally inadmissible, you may be able to overcome the inadmissibility through Criminal Rehabilitation or by obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit, TRP, through Citizenship and Immigration of Canada. (Criminal Rehabilitation was discussed in an earlier blog entry titled, "CA Misdemeanor DUI Conviction & Travel To Canada".)
A TRP may be granted to individuals, who are otherwise inadmissible, for a specific purpose and for a specific period of time. A TRP is a temporary solution to inadmissibility and it is required until the criminal inadmissibility status has been overcome.
You can apply for a TRP at any Canadian visa office or port of entry. The application process can take several weeks to months, so if you are planning a trip, it is imperative that you file the necessary paperwork as early as possible. You should not wait and apply at the port of entry, as your application may be denied and you may not be allowed entry.
If you are granted a TRP, you will have to present it upon entry into Canada. You will be allowed to travel as long as it is valid. Once you are eligible to apply for and are granted rehabilitation, you will no longer need the TRP, as rehabilitation permanently removes the inadmissibility from your file.
If your drunk driving sentence included probation, you should petition the court, in the jurisdiction where you were convicted or plead guilty, for an early termination of probation and expungement. If granted, that would officially conclude the case and that date would be used to start the clock ticking on your ability to file your application for Criminal Rehabilitation.
The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws can change. For information about a specific DUI case, speak to a drunk driving attorney in your area. For the most up-to-date information on Canadian immigration, contact a Canadian immigration lawyer.