A Certificate of Qualification for Employment, or a “CQE,” is given by the Court to a person with a criminal conviction to help remove barriers to finding a job. The CQE was created in 2012 and allows employers and licensing boards to hire or award professional licenses to people who were not legally allowed to do certain jobs under the old law. Now, an applicant who has a CQE must be given individual consideration by an employer or licensing board. Additionally, an employer who hires an applicant with a CQE is protected against claims of negligent hiring.
Am I eligible for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE)?
The Court of Common Pleas where a person currently lives can award a CQE.
- A person seeking relief from a misdemeanor conviction can apply for a CQE 6 months after any incarceration, any supervision, and any other sanctions have ended.
- A person seeking relief from a felony conviction can apply for a CQE 1 year after any incarceration, any supervision, and any other sanctions have ended.
How do I apply for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE)?
The process to apply for a CQE can be found here. Scroll down to the box labeled “CQE Petition Process” for information on how to register an account and for directions on how to fill out and file your petition. You must register an account with the website before you can begin the application process. Registration saves your information and allows the system to send you notifications about your application.
Note to Cuyahoga County residents: you must fill out an online application before filing a petition in Common Pleas Court.
On your application for a CQE, you will need to list a “collateral sanction” that is preventing you from finding a job. A “collateral sanction” is a barrier you experience as a result of having a criminal record but was not part of your sentence.
You can find a list of collateral sanctions for specific offenses by using a website called CIVICC, http://civiccohio.org/. From this webpage, you can enter the specific Ohio Revised Code section that you were convicted under and it will give you a list of the collateral sanctions associated with that offense. You can find the Ohio Revised Code section on the court docket for your criminal case. Many courts have online dockets where you can look up your case.
If a specific collateral sanction is not keeping you from working, but instead your criminal history generally is a barrier to finding a job, you may still be able to apply for a CQE.
After you fill out the application and the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) determines that it is complete, you will receive a notice in your email account and in the CQE "Inbox." This notice gives you instructions on how to print the petition and file it with the Common Pleas Clerk of Courts in the county where you live.
The DRC review may take several weeks to process. Do not go to the Clerk of Courts until you get the email instruction. The County Clerk or Court may require additional information or filing fees when you present your petition. You should ask the Clerk if you can file your petition with a poverty affidavit to reduce or eliminate the filing fee. Click here for instructions and sample poverty affidavit forms.
Questions about filing? Contact the Common Pleas Court where you live.
- Ashtabula County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts: (440) 576-3637
- Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts: (216) 443-7952
- Geauga County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts: (440) 285-2222
- Lake County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts: (440) 350-2657
- Lorain County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts: (440) 329-5536
Questions about the CQE? Call the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction at 614-752-1235. When you call the number you will speak with a secretary who will forward your call to a person in your community.