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How Do Criminal Records Impact Work Authorizations in Canada?

Pardon For Your DUI Improves Your Life

A Canadian work permit is issued for foreign nationals who wish to work temporarily in Canada. It provides evidence that you have been authorized to work while in Canada and is usually only valid for a specific position, employer and length of time. An immigration officer may issue a work permit after Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has issued a labour market opinion confirmation letter with the job offer letter.

Note that to work in the province of Quebec, it is highly possible a person will need to get a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) from the Quebec government before a work permit can be issued.

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General Eligibility

To work anywhere in Canada, there are several general eligibility requirements that must be met by the applicant.

No matter where a person applies, they must:

  • Prove to an officer that they will leave Canada when the work permit expires
  • Show financial stability and the ability to take care of themselves and any dependent(s) throughout their stay in Canada and,
  • display that they have enough funds to be able to return home
  • Obey the law and have no record of criminal activity
  • Take the steps to show police clearance through a pardon or record suspension if they have a criminal past
  • Show that they are not a danger to Canada’s security,
  • Be in good health and pass a medical exam
  • Not plan to work for an employer listed with the status “ineligible”

Overcoming inadmissibility with a pardon

If a person is considering an application for a work authorization to work in Canada with a record of past criminal activity, they automatically breach the general eligibility requirements. In this case, both an approval of rehabilitation and a pardon are required to overcome your inadmissibility. A request for rehabilitation cannot be made until a record suspension has been first obtained.

There is only one exception: having only one (1) summary conviction in Canada. If a person falls into this category, they may submit an application for rehabilitation for any convictions or offences outside Canada if there is evidence provided that an application has been submitted for a record suspension with the Parole Board of Canada.

Applying from within Canada

Generally speaking work permit applications are completed before the applicant enters Canada. However, applications for work permits from inside Canada cover a range of situations like finishing a degree or diploma at a college, university or eligible institution in Canada, having a temporary residence permit that is valid for six months or more, being included in a permanent residence application, asking for refugee status and more. In some cases, a person may be allowed to work without a work permit – for instance a student working on campus – but they will need a work permit for any other type of job.

If you have a criminal record, it is crucial to ensure that an approval of rehabilitation and a pardon are obtained to overcome your inadmissibility to Canada. This will ensure that you can get the appropriate work permit for your position. Looking into work permits well in advance and taking measures like getting a pardon / record suspension, will save time and extra costs as well as help to increase the chances of a successful entry into Canada and into the Canadian workforce.