How to work in Canada if you have a criminal record

How to work in Canada if you have a criminal record
How to work in Canada if you have a criminal record

Toronto: If you have a criminal record and do not address it prior to applying for a Canadian work permit, you run the risk of being denied entry to Canada.

You may be able to overcome criminal inadmissibility depending on the nature of the offence, its date, and your subsequent behaviour. To enter Canada with a criminal record, you must either meet the legal criteria for rehabilitation or possess a temporary resident permit or a letter of legal opinion.

Whichever option you choose, it is critical to begin the process well in advance of your intended trip to Canada. This section contains general information about overcoming inadmissibility to Canada.

Letter of Legal Opinion

Legal Opinion Letters are written by lawyers and explain to Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers why you should be allowed entry. Your lawyer can explain to the Canadian government why you have been deemed rehabilitated, why your offence was isolated or minor, or why there is no Canadian equivalent to your offence. You may also obtain one of these letters to substantiate your application for a temporary resident permit or rehabilitation.

Permit for Temporary Residence

Temporary Resident Permits (TRP) enable individuals with criminal records to enter Canada for a limited period of time. This may be an option if it has been less than five years since the completion of your sentence or if you have a legitimate reason for entering Canada.

TRPs are valid for a period of up to three years. You must submit a TRP application to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), outlining why you should be allowed entry and why the benefits to Canada of allowing you entry outweigh the risks. US citizens and permanent residents may submit their TRP applications upon arrival in Canada, or they may obtain pre-approval by submitting their application to a Canadian consulate. All other foreign nationals may apply for a TRP through a Canadian consulate. A $200 CAD application fee is required.


Rehabilitation is the only long-term solution to criminal inadmissibility to Canada. Once you have been rehabilitated, your criminal record no longer serves as a bar to entry, as long as you do not commit additional offences. Rehabilitation is classified into two types:

If at least five years have passed since the conclusion of your sentence, you may qualify for individual rehabilitation. There is a $200 or $1,000 application fee, depending on the severity of your conviction. Your application must demonstrate that you have been rehabilitated and will not commit criminal acts in the future. This can be accomplished by demonstrating a stable lifestyle or by demonstrating that you have taken steps to improve your behaviour. Additionally, it helps if your offence was a one-time occurrence. These applications are typically processed within a year.

Considered rehabilitation may be available if you were convicted of a less serious crime and have served at least ten years of your sentence. Due to the passage of time, you will be automatically deemed rehabilitated. Even if this is the case in your case, you may choose to obtain a Legal Opinion Letter in case you are required to demonstrate to a border officer that you should be admitted to Canada.

For more Immigration news, please visit our Immigration section.

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