How to work in Canada if you have a criminal record

Daniel Levy
Published: March 28, 2022

If you have a criminal record and do not address inadmissibility before you apply for a Canadian work permit, you risk being refused entry to Canada.

You may be able to overcome criminal inadmissibility depending on the crime, how long ago it happened, and how you have behaved since. In order to come to Canada with a criminal record, you will need to meet the legal terms to be deemed rehabilitated, or have a temporary resident permit or a legal opinion letter.

Whichever option ends up being the best for you, it is important to start the process well in advance of your intended travel to Canada. Here is some general information on ways to overcome inadmissibility to Canada.

Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

Legal Opinion Letter

Legal Opinion Letters are prepared by lawyers and they provide explanation to Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers why they should permit you entry. Your lawyer can explain facts that demonstrate to the Canadian government that you are deemed rehabilitated, or your offense was isolated or not serious, or there is no Canadian equivalent to your offense. You may also get one of these letters to support your temporary resident permit or rehabilitation application.

Temporary Resident Permit

Temporary Resident Permits (TRP) allow people with criminal records to enter Canada temporarily. This may be an option for you if it has been less than five years since the end of your sentence or you have a valid reason to enter Canada.

TRPs can be valid for up to three years. You need to submit a TRP application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) providing a compelling reason why you should be allowed to enter the country, and why the benefits to Canada of allowing you entry outweigh potential risks. US citizens and permanent residents can submit their TRP applications when they arrive at the Canadian border, or they can get pre-approval by submitting their application at a Canadian consulate. All other foreign nationals can submit their TRP application at a Canadian consulate. The application fee is $200 CAD.


Rehabilitation is a permanent way to overcome criminal inadmissibility to Canada. Once you are rehabilitated, your criminal record is no longer grounds to deny you entry as long as you do not commit any further offenses. There are two types of rehabilitation:

Individual rehabilitation is an option if at least five years have passed since the end of your sentence. The application fee is either $200 or $1,000, depending on the severity of your conviction. Your application needs to demonstrate you have been rehabilitated and will no longer conduct criminal acts. You can do this by providing evidence like demonstrating a stable lifestyle or showing that you have taken steps to improve your behaviour. It also helps if your offense was an isolated event. These applications can take about a year to process.

Deemed rehabilitation may apply if you were convicted for a less serious crime and at least 10 years have gone by since you completed your sentence. You will automatically be deemed rehabilitated due to the passage of time. Even if this applies to your case, you may still choose to get a Legal Opinion Letter in case you need to prove to a border officer that you should be allowed into Canada.

Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Discover your Canadian immigration options at

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at
Related articles
10 frequently asked questions by visitors to Canada
View of Skylon Tower and abandond Ontario Power Comany Generating Station at river level seeing from a boat tour
How fast will IRCC process my temporary residence application in 2024?
Father working from home with young child
Why IRCC may refuse your visitor visa application
passenger in the airport terminal hall looks at the plane
Ukrainians no longer eligible to enter Canada under CUAET special measures
Mother posing in front of a camera with her two kids, smiling
Top Stories
Budget 2024: How will it impact Canadian immigration?
10 frequently asked questions by visitors to Canada
Comparing rental costs across Canada
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
More in Canada
Budget 2024: How will it impact Canadian immigration?
Canada has released Budget 2024.
Comparing rental costs across Canada
A for rent sign infront of a small house
What can newcomers expect from Budget 2024?
Budget 2024 will contain several new initiatives to help with housing affordability in Canada.
I am a Canadian permanent resident, how long do I actually need to stay in Canada?
Calgary skyline
Link copied to clipboard