Canada Work Permits
What Is a Canadian Work Permit?
A Canadian work permit is the permission to take a job within Canada if you are from a foreign country. You usually need a work permit to work in Canada. In some cases, you can work without a permit or job offer in Canada.
General Eligibility Requirements
No matter where you apply, you must:
- prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your work permit expires,
- show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada and to return home,
- obey the law and have no record of criminal activity (we may ask you to give us a police clearance certificate),
- not be a danger to Canada’s security,
- be in good health and have a medical exam, if needed,
- not plan to work for an employer listed with the status “ineligible” on the list of employers who failed to comply with the conditions,
- not plan to work for an employer who, on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages, and
- give the officer any other documents they ask for to prove you can enter the country.
Global Skills Strategy applicants: You can only benefit from two-week application processing if you apply from outside of Canada.
- Stage 1: Employer applies for Labour Market Impact Assessment
- Stage 2: Employer extends Temporary Job Offer
- Stage 3: Foreign Worker applies for Work Permit
- Stage 4: Work Permit is issued
Can You Turn a Work Visa Into Permanent Residency?
“If you are currently working in Canada and you have applied for permanent residence, you may be eligible for a bridging open work permit if your work permit will expire in four months or less. This means you can keep working while we make a decision on your permanent resident application. To qualify, you must have applied under the:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program,
- Canadian Experience Class,
- Federal Skilled Trades Program,
- Provincial Nominee Program,
- Caring for Children Class, or
- Caring for People with High Medical Needs Class.
You must also:
- currently be in Canada,
- have valid status on a work permit that is due to expire within four months,
- select “Open Work Permit” as the type of work permit when you complete your work permit application, and
- pay the work permit processing fee and the Open Work Permit Holder fee.
Close to 200,000 New Foreign Workers Immigrate to Canada Every Year!
Working in Canada is an attractive option for many skilled foreign workers from all over the world. Each year, close to 200,000 foreign skilled workers come to work in Canada on Temporary Canadian Work Permits. There is no reason why this cannot be you too!
In order to work in Canada on a temporary basis, foreign skilled workers must have a temporary offer of employment from a Canadian employer and be granted a Temporary Foreign Worker Permit by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. If you or a family member are applying for a PR card, you can also apply via an ‘Open Work’ permit, and if you are American or Mexican, you can fast track the working visa process via the NAFTA agreement.
If you are looking for a job, certain positions in Canada may require a person to know their National Occupation Classification Code (NOC Code). This code is used to classify all types of employment by Canadian standards.
Applying Process for the Canadian Work Visa
There are four basic steps to getting a temporary Canadian Work Visa:
- Employer applies for labour market opinion (if necessary)
- Employer extends temporary job offer to foreign workers
- Foreign skilled worker applies for work permit
- Work permit is issued
Step 1: Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) formerly LMOs
Before applying for a temporary Canadian Work Visa, in most cases, you need to qualify for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIAs) previously called an LMO from Service Canada. A temporary tourist visa will not provide eligibility to work within Canada
What is the difference between LMOs and LMIAs?
The procedure involved in obtaining an LMIA is similar to LMOs, but there are significant differences.:
High Wage Positions
The application forms have changed from the old LMOs and are more extensive
Employers must complete a ‘transition plan’ that will explain how they intend to permanently fill the job being held by the temporary foreign worker;
Employers are required to keep more detailed records during the foreign worker’s stay in Canada;
Individual applications will be processed more quickly.
Foreign workers in skilled trades, high paid workers with salaries in the top 10% of Canadian earnings, and employees immigrating for 120 days or less will all receive LMIA decisions in 10 business days.
For Low-Wage LMIAs
The procedures and criteria involved for Low-Wage LMIAs are somewhat different than for High-Wage LMIAs. More restrictions are imposed on Low-Wage job offers than are high wage as follows:
Positive LMIAs for low-wage jobs will now allow employers to hire a foreign worker for only one year at a time.
For organizations with more than ten employees, low-wage foreign workers can make up no more than 10% of the workforce.
Transitional measures will apply to employers whose work forces do not comply with this rule.
Canadian companies in the accommodation and food service sector as well as the retail trade sector will no longer be allowed to apply for LMIAs for jobs in ten lower-skill occupations.
As with high-wage LMIA applications, Canadian companies must now qualify with a higher application fee, complete longer application forms, and keep detailed records about their recruitment practices.
Who does not need to apply for an LMIA?
As in the case of the old LMOs, Canadian employers can recruit some TFWs without an LMIA. The following are categories where temporary work permits are LMIA exempt:
- Skilled Workers covered under the NAFTA agreement;
- Intra-Company Transferees;
- International Experience Canada participants (also known as Working Holiday Permit holders);
- Post-Graduate temporary work permit holders;
- Bridging Open Work Permit holders; and
- Participants in private academic exchanges such as postdoctoral fellows and visiting professors.
- Programs such as those above have now been reclassified as ‘International Mobility Programs.’
Also, beginning in summer 2015 employers hiring through some International Mobility Programs must have their job offers approved by a Canadian visa office before their hired employees can request a Canadian temporary work permit. The processing fee for the job offer approval application will be $230.
Step 2: Employer Extends Temporary Job Offer
The employer must send a copy of the positive LMIA along with a detailed ‘job offer letter’ to the foreign skilled worker.
Canadian companies are required by CIC to prepare a formal employment contract or what our industry refers to as the ‘Job Offer Letter,’ which must include:
- Job title for the position
- Job description
- Requirements for the temporary position
- Details about start and end dates
- Specifics about the salary
- The name and address of the employer
Canada Service Agency will ensure that the job offer is legit and real. Once the Canadian immigration department has confirmed the job offer with an LMIA, then the CIC will grant employment authorization for the company’s future employees to work in Canada. Once the LMIA is granted, the Canadian employer can extend a temporary job offer to the foreign skilled worker.
Step 3: Foreign Skilled Worker Applies For a Work Permit
Once you have your LMIA and ‘Job Offer Letter’ squared away, you then can apply for a Canadian Temporary Work Permit. If the employer that is hiring you is in the province of Quebec, then you may also need to obtain a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ)in order to work temporarily in Quebec. In some cases, when applying for a temporary foreign worker permit, you will be required to attend an interview with a visa officer. If the visa officer is satisfied that the foreign worker’s employment will not adversely affect employment in Canada for Canadians and that the foreign worker qualifies for the position, then a Canada Work Permit will be issued.
Note: In some cases, applicants from certain countries will be required to undergo medical examinations.
Step 4. Get Issued a Canadian Temporary Work Permit
A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer will issue the Canadian Temporary Work Permit at the point of entry when the skilled foreign worker arrives in Canada. Depending on the foreign worker’s country of citizenship, a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) may also need to be obtained in order to enter Canada. There are a few more minor steps and processes to obtaining a work visa.
Note: If a certain position of your job is at the NOC 0 (managerial, executive) or NOC A (professional) level, you may be eligible for two-week application processing.
'Open Work Permits' for PR Applicants
As of December 15, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced that they would be allowing permanent resident applicants to obtain work permits while they are awaiting the finalization of their application. This will allow permanent resident applicants to now work while they are awaiting the answer on their application!
Work Visas for Business and Corporations
If you are interested in sending your employees to Canada, you should look into applying for the Intra-Company Transfer ICT Canada Visa. Applying for an Intra-Company Transfer visa allows the company and employee to avoid applying for an LMIA since this is an LMIA-exempt work permit.
Book a consultation to discuss an Intra-Company Transfer.
Who is Eligible for the Bridging Work Permit?
What are the Requirements for the Work Permit?
In order to be eligible, you must fall into one of the above categories, and you must also meet the following criteria:
- You are currently in Canada
- You have a valid temporary Work Permit, and it is set to expire within four months.
- You have received a positive decision on your permanent resident application under an economic class, Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, or the Federal Skilled Trades Program.
- You have made an application for an Open Work Permit.
This ‘open work permit’ is a significant program in Canadian immigration and allows applicants to work during the processing of their PR applications.
Electronic Travel Authorization Form Required
Visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travelers with a valid Canadian visa. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents cannot apply for an eTA.
Important: If you are stateless or if you are traveling with a travel document issued to non-citizens, such as a foreign passport or a refugee travel document, you need to apply for a visa to visit or transit through Canada.
Canadian Working Visas for Skilled Americans
Are you a citizen of the USA who wants to work in Canada? If so, you can fast track your way to working in Canada via NAFTA. Americans are applying for a Canadian work permit in record numbers and, if applicable, you should take advantage of this opportunity! The Canadian economy is strong and is taking in many U.S. Citizens looking for work. The good news is that we have the NAFTA Agreement. NAFTA makes getting a Canada work visa for Americans and Mexicans much easier. What is required is a job offer from a Canadian company in a field listed in the NAFTA agreement, proof of qualifications including work experience and education, as well as citizenship.
Canadian Family Visas
There are alternative ways to make sure that family members that wish to be together can migrate together. Some family members such as spouses and/or dependent children can be included during the initial Canada work visa application for new immigrants to Canada. Other family members such as grandparents must be sponsored by Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Under the Express Entry program, dependent family members of the work visa applicant are also granted permanent residence in Canada. They can enjoy all the same rights to live, work, and study in the country. The Express Entry program helps connect family members of the recipients of Canadian work visas with the rest of country.
Working in Canada While on a Student Visa
Since June 2014, those who are holding Canadian Study Permits who meet the eligibility criteria are allowed to work on or off the campus without the need for a separate work permit. The eligibility criteria to be able to work up to 20 hours a week are:
- Must have a valid Canadian Study Permit
- Must be a full-time student
- Must be studying at an authorized designed organization in Canada. These organizations include Canadian universities, community colleges, college d’enseignement general et professionnel (CEGEP), publicly funded trade or technical school, or a private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees.
- Must be studying at a post-secondary level in Canada, or;
- Must be studying towards a secondary level vocational qualifications, or a post-secondary level qualification in Quebec
- Must be studying on a program that awards a degree, diploma or certificate
- Must be studying on a program that lasts for at least 6 months
Working in Canada While Visiting
Many people come to Canada as a tourist and then come across a job opportunity. People may wonder if you can work while on a visitor visa. The answer is, not really. You can not make money in Canada and from Canada if you are on a tourist visa! There are two different Canadian Visitor Visas: Single Entry and Multiple Entry.
The Multiple Entry visa is also known as the Canada Tourist Visa 10 Years.
Learn more about Canada Tourist Visa Requirements.
Top FAQs About Canadian Working Permits
Do all foreigners require a Canada Work Visa?
No. Certain persons are EXEMPT or do not require Canada Work Visas, such as:
- Foreign Diplomats
- Military Personnel
- Performing Artists (under certain circumstances)
- Ship or Truck Personnel
- Designated Foreign Buyers and Sellers
Note: Other exemptions are found in the Canadian Immigration Regulations.
If I work in Canada on a work permit, can I get permanent resident status?
Can I apply for a temporary work permit and a Canada immigration visa?
Yes, you can. You may apply for a temporary work permit on its own or in combination with an application for a Canada immigration visa.
How long will it take to get my work permit?
Work permits that are applied for at a Canadian Port of Entry can be issued the same day (which is rare). Most Canadian work permit applications are filed outside of Canada and are released within a matter of days or weeks, depending on whether or not a medical examination is required and the workload at the particular visa office to which you applied.
Can I apply for a work visa outside of Canada?
Anyone may apply for a work permit before they enter Canada. In some cases, you must apply to a visa office outside Canada. This is usually true if you need a visa to enter Canada or if you need to have a medical exam before you come here.
Find out what type of work permit you can apply for and if you can benefit from the Global Skills Strategy’s two-week application processing. If you are applying for an open work permit, leave the employer section of the application blank.
Can I apply for a work visa while in Canada?
You can only apply for a work permit from inside Canada if you:
- are currently in Canada and have a valid study or work permit, or your spouse or parents have a study or work permit,
- have graduated from a program at a
- Canadian university,
- community college,
- publicly funded trade/technical school, or other eligible school,
- have a temporary resident permit that is valid for six months or more,
- have applied or been included in an application for permanent residence from inside Canada (you will have to pass certain stages in the main application process to be eligible for a work permit),
- have asked for refugee status in Canada and are waiting for a decision from the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada,
- have been recognized by the RPD as a convention refugee or protected person,
- have had your refugee claim turned down by the RPD but you cannot be removed from Canada for reasons beyond your control
How Long Will It Take to Receive My Work Visa After Completing My Work Visa Application?
The Work Permit processing time completely depends on the completion of your application and the office you applied at. We have found that it can take between 1-27 weeks to process a Canadian Work Permit. Visit our page on Canada Visa Processing Times for 2021 to learn more.
Why Seeking Professional Help for Work Visas is Important
Often, employment and business opportunities are time sensitive and for that reason having a legal representative in Canada with expertise in the area of work permits is the most efficient way to proceed. For work permits, there is a higher risk of refusal in cases where the application is not properly prepared. The standards are very high. The documentation and processes involved in successfully obtaining a work permit are complex and usually require legal expertise. You are also not guaranteed a work visa renewal if you have received one before. Legal representation will better your case to ensure a renewal for Canadian work visa. It is recommended that you seek professional immigration help to consult with your particular case. Many professional immigration law offices will help people from all around the world without the need for a face-to-face interview or consultation. These agencies use online tools such as video chat, phone calls, and email to speak with those looking for help obtaining a visa.
Why Hire Us to Help You With Your Work Visa Applications
We have helped thousands and thousands of people worldwide successfully enter Canada on a work permit, and we are very certain we can help you too. No one can guarantee an approval (not even us), but we are confident with our years of experience and current success rate that we can significantly increase your chances at a positive outcome for your case.
The first step towards a successful Canadian working visa application is getting an evaluation of your case. Fill out our online immigration evaluation, and we will get back to you within 24 hours to discuss your eligibility and visa options. Call us today at +1.647.792.3035 for an assessment to see if you are eligible to move to Canada, or fill out our online assessment form.