Illinois Licensing: New law prevents denial of occupational licenses for certain criminal convictions

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a new law on August 22, 2016, opening the door to applicants for professional licenses who may have previously been rejected by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) for having certain past criminal convictions. The law only applies to a limited number of regulated professions in Illinois, a few of which are in the nature of cosmetic health care. The test as to whether the prior criminal conviction is excusable, for purposes of applying for an occupational license, is whether the nature of the underlying crime is directly related to the occupational practice for which the license is being sought. As the law is applied there may be applicants with questions about how this new law could affect them and what they can do if they were denied the opportunity to apply for an occupational license in the past. At Michael V. Favia & Associates, we represent Illinois professionals with all types of licensing matters.

The New Law opens the door to applicants for several licensed occupational positions in Illinois.

House Bill 5973 amends several Illinois statutes and changes references among laws, to reform occupational licensing to prevent the IDPFR, “from using irrelevant criminal convictions as a basis for denying licenses to applicants seeking to work as barbers, cosmetologists, hair braiders, estheticians, nail technicians, roofing business owners or funeral directors.[i]

Applying for jobs is difficult for individuals with prior criminal convictions. An occupational career may be a significantly better option to earn income.

There are thousands of various misdemeanor and felony laws in the Illinois statutes. Felony convictions make it challenging for ex-offenders applying for jobs, whether they served considerable time incarcerated or on probation. Particularly in the corporate job sector, a conviction can almost certainly prevent an applicant from being considered for a position. Under the new law, an individual with a criminal conviction can go to work in an occupational position and apply for a license to practice a craft in which they already have some valuable experience.

In several states, the laws regulating licensing for certain occupations and professionals are different. Roofing business owners, for example, may not be required to be state-licensed in a neighboring state. Consider an individual who owned and operated a roofing business who then moved to Illinois and learned that he or she would not be allowed to operate their business here due to a past criminal conviction for an offense that has nothing to do with the business of roofing. This individual would have likely been denied a license in Illinois until the passage of this new licensing reform law.

Small business owners and operators are important to the Illinois economy and this new reform law opens the door to new opportunities to hang an occupational shingle.

Individuals with valuable occupational skills can earn a significant income practicing their craft. From cosmetology to nail technicians and from funeral directors to roofers, there are a significant number of potential business owners who can now apply for an occupational license without fear of being denied for an irrelevant prior criminal conviction.

So long as the prior criminal conviction is not directly related to the licensed occupation, there should be no problem with the background requirements of an application to practice a licensed occupation, as required by the IDFPR. There can always be questions, however, how directly related a past conviction might be to the current occupation. In the event an applicant for an occupational license needs assistance with an application or believes they are wrongly being denied access to a license, the professional licensing attorneys and staff at Michael V. Favia & Associates are able to help.

About us: Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. is a health law and litigation firm in Chicago representing individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations with civil legal matters as well as professional licensing and regulation.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent private individuals as well as healthcare professionals in all types of litigation and administrative matters involving licensing and regulatory agencies.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C. represents individual physicians and health care organizations in the Chicago area with a variety of legal matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. Michael V. Favia & Associates is available at (773) 631-4580. Please visit and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his profile and on LinkedIn.


[i] Illinois Policy, Rauner Signs Occupational Licensing Reform Into Law, by Bryant Jackson-Green, Aug. 24, 2016.