You need to ask an immigration attorney. DWI, as you indicate, is not criminal in NJ and does not appear on a CCH. If his license is reinstated I do not know how Canada would know or find out. But ask an immigration attorney. I believe Mr. Mark and Ms. Naverette who contibute to this forum and are profiled on AVVO both practice immigration law .
A DUI conviction, while a traffic offense in New Jersey, is a criminal conviction in Canada. You have to apply for an approval of rehabilitation that requires you to wait a certain period of time before you can enter the country. Unfortunately the probationary period is five years, so your friend is going to have to wait before he or she can apply.
This is by no means an easy process and you should speak to an attorney that knows how to handle cases of this nature. I am providing a link that offers some background information with respect to the Approval of Rehabilitation. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/guides/5312ETOC.asp#5312E8
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You need to speak with a Canadian immigration attorney. Much like a NJ lawyer cannot give advice on the laws in Virginia, a U.S. immigration lawyer cannot advise on the Canadian immigration laws.
David Nachman in Ridgewood, NJ specializes in Canadian Immigration.
Please be advised my answers to questions does not constitute legal advise and you should not rely on it, due to the fact that we have never met, I have not been aprised of the facts in you case nor have I reviewed any documents.
Although the DWI conviction is only a traffic offense, Canada will still bar admission, even if the person is not attempting to drive in Canada. A DWI conviction in New Jersey will permanently remain on the New Jersey driving history and become part of the National Driver Registry (NDR) as well. One can seek an Approval of Rehabilitation from the Canadian government in order for admission to the country. [See for more information - http://www.dwiduidefenselaw.com/recent-news/visiting-canada-think-again-if-you-had-a-dui-conviction/ ]. It is best to consult with a Canadian immigration attorney when attempting to obtain the Approval of Rehabilitation.
Although I practice in Oregon, not New Jersey, my clients with Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants charges here have similar concerns in trying to enter Canada. The unfortunate reality I've seen is that it truly seems to depend on the individual border patrol agent on the Canadian side of the border - what I've observed is that this 'human factor' can be an unpredictable variable.
In cases where my clients have entered the DUII Diversion program - an Oregon program where a person's charge is ultimately dismissed with the successful completion of the court's obligations - I have my folks bring the original court paperwork with them to the border. The paperwork specifically says that the individual was not convicted of the DUII charge, and I may write a supporting letter as their attorney for them to provide to the agent as well.
While this is a general answer, the answer to your specific question may ultimately depend on whether the definition of the charge your friend was convicted of is the same as Canada's definition of a DWI. For that, I suggest you speak with a lawyer licensed to practice in New Jersey. I wish your friend all the best.
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