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Health Care Waivers and Executive Clemency

If you are interested in entering or remaining in the healthcare field, you may wish to look into the Health Care Worker's Waiver.  This waiver is issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health and, if granted, may allow you to practice in your profession in spite of having a criminal history.

If your record does not qualify for expungement or seal, you may wish to look into Executive Clemency and Expungement - a Pardon from the Governor.  This is an entirely different process from standard expungement.  You will need to submit a petition to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, who will then make a recommendation to the Governor.  If the Governor agrees, you will need to go through the expungement process.  Getting the pardon does not mean you will automatically be granted an expungement.

Health Care Workers Waiver

The Office of the State Appellate Defender is partnering with Illinois Legal Aid Online to provide the following useful and easy-to-understand information about Health Care Workers Waivers. Health Care Workers Waivers are administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health, and don’t have any statutes that apply.

People with certain convictions can’t work in a healthcare setting. However, you can get a waiver that removes this barrier. If the waiver is granted, you can be hired even though you have a conviction on your record.

Below you will find information and links that will assist you in seeking a Health Care Workers Waiver.

Who needs a waiver?

Unlicensed health care workers with certain convictions need waivers. This includes Certified Nurses Assistants, home health care workers, personal care aids, and people in school to work in health care. Also, anyone who wants to work in a healthcare setting and has access to patients needs a waiver. This might include janitors, food service staff, and people who provide transportation for patients. Licensed health care workers, such as Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses, do not need waivers.

When can I apply for a waiver?

You can use this table to see how long you must wait after your conviction date to apply for a waiver.

​Number of offenses How long you must wait if the convictions are for a misdemeanor How long you must wait if the convictions are for a felony
​1 1 year​ ​3 years
​2-3 ​3 years ​5 years
more than 3​ ​5 years ​10 years

What convictions prevent me from working in health care?

Use these lists to see some of the convictions that prevent you from working in health care. This list is not complete. For a complete list, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website. If you were convicted of an offense not listed on the IDPH website, you do not need a waiver.


  • assault
  • battery
  • criminal trespass to residence*
  • domestic battery
  • endanger the life or health of child*
  • retail theft*
  • theft*
  • unlawful use of a weapon (UUW)*
    * These offenses are eligible to be sealed three years after completion of your last conviction.


  • aggravated stalking
  • armed violence
  • arson
  • burglary and residential burglary
  • cannabis or controlled substance
  • child abduction
  • criminal drug conspiracy
  • cruelty to children
  • forcible detention
  • forgery
  • home invasion
  • manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent
  • methamphetamine violations
  • practice nursing without a license
  • receive, sell, or use stolen credit card
  • reckless discharge of a firearm
  • robbery
  • tampering with food, drugs, or cosmetics
  • theft
  • retail
  • identity
  • unlawful restraint
  • vehicular hijacking

If you have a conviction for one of the following offenses, your waiver application will result in an automatic denial. You must appeal the denial.

  • abuse or neglect-Long Term Care (LTC) resident
  • aggravated battery
  • aggravated robbery
  • aggravated vehicular hijacking
  • armed robbery
  • child pornography
  • criminal abuse of elderly or persons with a disability
  • criminal sexual abuse
  • criminal sexual assault
  • exploitation of a child
  • heinous battery
  • indecent solicitation of a child
  • involuntary manslaughter
  • kidnapping
  • murder (1st or 2nd degree)
  • sexual misconduct with a person with a disability
  • solicitation of murder

How to apply for a waiver

Complete the Health Care Worker Waiver Application, and mail the completed form to Illinois Department of Public Health, Health Care Worker Registry, 525 West Jefferson Street, 4th Floor, Springfield, IL 62761. The Department will send you a LiveScan Request Form in the mail. Use this form to have your fingerprints collected.

You should always include more information than the application requires. It is a good idea to include:

  • Information about the conviction
  • Information about your life outside the record
  • Why you want to work in healthcare
  • Other documentation to support the waiver, such as character and employment references
  • Information about the conviction

Talk about the offense in your own words. You can say where you were when you were arrested, who you were with, and why the offense happened. It is also a good idea to discuss the lessons you learned. Try to accept responsibility for the conviction, and say why it won’t happen again. If you violated any conditions of your sentence, explain why.

Information about your life outside the record

You need to show why you are worthy of a waiver, and how your past record won’t be an issue with employment. Talk about why you are able to perform employment responsibilities, and why you are not a threat to the health or safety of residents, patients, or clients.

Other documentation to support the waiver application

You should get letters of support that say good things about your character. If you are currently, or were recently employed, include the contact information for your supervisor.

Guidelines for letters of support

It is very beneficial for applicants to include letters of support with their application for the health care waiver. The letters of support can be written by family, friends, pastors, or anyone who can say good things about your character. The letter should be written in paragraph form and should have the following four basic parts:

  1. An introduction: The writer should introduce herself by saying who she is and what she does for a living.
  2. A section describing how the writer knows you: The writer should talk about how they know you. Are they a family member, friend, co-worker, or church member? How long have they known you? How often does the writer interact with you? What types of activities do you participate in together? If the writer has known you for a long time, how have they seen you grow and change?
  3. A section talking about your positive impact: The writer should finish the letter by talking about how you’ve had a positive impact on their life and the lives of others. They should be specific; the letter should not simply say that you are a good person. Rather, the writer should tell stories that show you are a good person. They can talk about your strengths as a parent, family member, friend, co-worker, or community member. Examples:
    1. “Mr. Smith has been a dedicated coach of his son’s park district basketball team for the last 5 years.”
    2. “Ms. Johnson and I teach Sunday School together at our church, St. John’s.”
    3. “Ms. Grant has been a loyal friend to me for the past ten years. She always offers to babysit my children, and she welcomes me and my family to her home.”
    4. “Ms. Richards suffered from addiction for many years and wasn’t part of our lives, but she is now.”
  4. A closing: The writer should always sign the letter and include a phone number or e-mail address. If possible, type the letter so it can be read easily. If your organization or church has letterhead, it is helpful to print the letter on that letterhead.

Getting Started Guide to Health Care Worker Waivers, from ILAO

Facts About Health Ware Worker Waiver Application

Health Care Worker Waiver Application

Executive Clemency