Obtaining a Canadian work permit despite criminality issues

Stephen Sherman
Published: February 10, 2020

Acquiring a Canadian work permit is the goal of many foreign nationals all around the world. However, with strengthened security and enforcement of immigration laws, receiving a work permit in Canada can be difficult for those who are subject to criminal charges.

A temporary Canadian work permit allows the applicant to come live in Canada with his or her immediate family, and Canadian work experience can be a valuable asset when applying for permanent residence in Canada.

There are many types of offences that may prevent you from getting a work permit in Canada, such criminal charges include:

  • impaired driving (DUI)
  • theft
  • traffic violations
  • assault
  • dangerous driving
  • possession of drugs or controlled substances

Can an individual still be issued a Canadian work permit despite the presence of such blemishes on their record?

The answer is yes, but the path to obtaining a work permit depends on the date the offence occurred in relation to the date of filing of the work permit application. Specifically, what matters is the time that has elapsed since the completion of the sentence imposed on the individual as a result of the offence.

Request more information about work permits

The process for obtaining a work permit depends on the time that has elapsed since the offence was committed

If five years or less have elapsed since the end of the sentence, the individual must apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) at the same time as the application for a work permit in order to resolve the inadmissibility.

A TRP is a temporary exemption that allows an individual to enter Canada for a certain period of time despite the fact that they are inadmissible. They may be granted for up to three years, but the length of time for which they are issued the permit usually depends on the specific reason for which the applicant is seeking entry to Canada.

Therefore, in the case of a work permit application, the TRP is most often granted for the same period as that for which the work permit is issued, in order to ensure that applicants can remain in Canada legally for the duration of the work permit’s validity.

If five years or more have elapsed since the end of the sentence, the individual may apply for criminal rehabilitation, which is the permanent solution for inadmissibility to Canada.

Once approved the individual can enter Canada freely, without being hindered by what is on their criminal record.

The problem with this application, in its relation to the acquisition of a work permit, is the processing time; currently, applications for criminal rehabilitation take about a year to be approved.

Once rehabilitation is approved, the individual may apply for the work permit regardless of previous inadmissibility, but the time required prevents criminal rehabilitation from being a short-term solution to the inadmissibility and the acquisition of a Canadian work permit.

For this reason, many applicants apply for criminal rehabilitation as a long-term solution and then submit the TRP application so that a work permit can be issued prior to the approval of criminal rehabilitation.

If 10 years or more have elapsed since the completion of the sentence for a single non-serious offence, the individual should be considered deemed rehabilitated. This means that he or she is no longer inadmissible simply because of the passage of time. Unlike an application for criminal rehabilitation, this process does not require any formal documentation but rather is an assessment by an immigration official.

Even in these scenarios, although the individual is technically no longer inadmissible, previous criminality can still pose a problem in the processing of work permit applications. Because of the broad discretionary power that immigration officers have in the performance of their duties, the reviewing officer may determine an individual is inadmissible, although in reality they should be deemed rehabilitated.

It is prudent, therefore, to include a legal opinion letter with the work permit application in scenarios such as this one. Such a letter would clarify that the person is no longer inadmissible and would refer to the relevant sections of Canada’s immigration law attesting to this fact.

This essentially limits the discretion of the immigration officer in terms of determining inadmissibility and should ensure that the work permit application is processed normally.

Although a previous minor criminal offence may pose problems with respect to applying for a work permit, there are measures that can be taken to minimize this possibility. These measures depend on factors such as the time elapsed since the offence or offences, the number of offences and their seriousness.

To request more information about work permits, please fill out this form


Stephen Sherman is a Canadian immigration attorney with the Campbell, Cohen Immigration Law Firm in Montreal. He specializes in assisting foreign nationals to work legally in Canada and resolving issues relating to criminal inadmissibility to Canada.

© 2020 CIC News All Rights Reserved


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