Yes, you can become a Canadian citizen if you have a criminal record. However, the path will be more complicated. The Government of Canada takes note of convictions both inside the country and outside. If you were convicted of an indictable offence either at home or abroad in the four years before you apply, your citizenship application will not be approved.
In addition, certain offences committed while you were a permanent resident, whenever they took place, can also stop you from becoming a Canadian citizen. If your court case is currently under appeal, you might also have to wait before engaging in the citizenship process.
To make the road to citizenship easier, and to increase the chances that you can become a productive member of Canadian society, you should apply for a Record Suspension for offences committed within Canada. This will remove an additional barrier you may have for obtaining employment or running a business in the country by sealing your Canada criminal record.
If you committed an offence outside of Canada, you can apply for criminal rehabilitation. This allows you to overcome criminal inadmissibility and open a new path towards citizenship in Canada. The Canadian government may already consider you rehabilitated if it’s been at least 10 years since you completed your sentence. If it’s been less time, you should go through the criminal rehabilitation application process.
Regardless of your situation, there are resources to help you get back on track. If you are ready to start a new life in Canada, learn more about your options to move on from past infractions through criminal rehabilitation or Record Suspension.