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Work in Canada: Canadian Work Permit & Visa Process

A work permit is a legal document that allows a foreign national to take up employment while inside Canada. Each year, Canada issues approximately half a million work permits to temporary foreign workers around the world.

Canada is a major destination for many foreign nationals seeking employment opportunities. Working in Canada is also a great first step for those looking to immigrate to the country permanently.

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Work in Canada: Canadian Work Permit & Visa Process

Who is eligible to work in Canada?

Most foreign nationals need a permit to work in Canada, with some exceptions.

To apply for a work permit, most applicants will need a Canadian job offer supported by a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). There are some exceptions to this requirement, as foreign workers can apply for a work permit without an LMIA or a job offer. Examples include a recent graduate of a Designated Canadian Institute of Education (IDD) or the spouse of someone who already holds a Canadian work or study permit.

Applicants who are eligible to apply for a work permit must also meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Evidence of their intention to leave once their work permit expires; And the
  • prove that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their families in Canada and to return home; And the
  • are not criminally or medically inadmissible to Canada; And the
  • plan to work with a qualified employer; And the
  • They can submit all the required documents that can prove their eligibility to enter Canada

Types of Canadian work permits

There are many options for obtaining a Canadian work permit. Some work permits require a job offer from a Canadian employer, others require the employer to provide a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), and still others require the individual to have a some type of connection to Canada (previous studies, spousal sponsorship, etc. ). Please refer to the following categories to determine which work permit best matches your qualifications:

Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Application

  • Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)
  • LMIA facilitated (Quebec)
  • Global Talent Stream

Exempt from LMIA but requiring a job offer or employment contract

  • International Mobility Program (IMP)
  • NAFTA Work Permit
  • CETA work permit
  • Transfers within the company

Open work permits (no job offer or LMIA required)

  • Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)
  • Sponsoring a Spouse in Canada
  • International Experience in Canada (IEC) (Working Holiday Visa)
  • Transitional Open Work Permit (BOWP)
  • The accompanying spouse of the international student or worker

Immigration tip: Canadian permanent residents do not need a work permit to work in Canada. Permanent resident status gives a person the legal right to live and work anywhere in the country. Learn more about permanent immigration options for skilled and professional workers.

How to get a Canadian work permit

The process for obtaining a Canadian work permit varies greatly depending on the type of work permit a person is applying for. For example, an international student studying in Canada to work part-time is often automatically issued a permit as part of their study permit.

Most closed work permit applications require the foreign national to have a formal job offer from a Canadian employer supported by a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Even those who are exempt from an LMIA or who are exempt from the requirement of a work permit should be aware of the unique documents they must prepare to ensure they are allowed to enter Canada. There are two general routes to obtaining a Canadian work permit: a closed (restricted) work permit and an open work permit.

Closed work permits are tied to specific employers, which means that a foreign national who has been granted a closed work permit must remain employed by the same employer in the same location unless they change their work permit.

If I have a job offer in Canada, am I eligible to apply for a work permit?

Having a job offer in Canada does not necessarily mean that you are eligible to apply for a work permit. A job offer must meet certain requirements to be considered valid for certain work permit applications. In the most cases, to be eligible for a work permit, the applicant's job offer must be either:

  1. Backed by a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA); Where
  2. Exempt from LMIA requirement.

It is important to note that Quebec has its own procedures for determining the validity of a job offer.

What can I do with a Canadian work permit?

Your physical work permit outlines the specific restrictions associated with your permit. These restrictions will primarily be determined by the type of work permit you qualify for. Conditions may include what kind of work you can do, where and who you can work for, and how long you can work in Canada. It is forbidden for any holder of a work permit to work in a company where there is reason to suspect that there is a risk of sexual exploitation of certain workers.

Work permit holders are not permanent residents of Canada and must leave the country at the end of their authorized stay. However, if you are working in Canada and want to stay permanently, complete our free assessment form to receive a full assessment of your immigration options.

Can my family be included in my work permit application?

If you are applying for an employer-supported work permit, you may be eligible to have your spouse and dependent children accompany you to Canada.

If your children are of school age and are in Canada, they can attend Canadian educational institutions without needing a separate study permit. Your spouse or partner may also be eligible to apply for an open work permit, which allows them to work for any employer in Canada.

How much does a Canadian work permit cost?

The processing fee for a closed work permit is CA$155 per person or $255 per person for an open work permit. If you are picking up a work permit or applying as a band performing artist, additional fees will apply.

How can I apply for a work permit?

The application procedure varies depending on the type of work permit you need. The first step is to determine which work permit is best for you. If you need help understanding the application, give us a call and a member of our team will help you schedule a consultation.

What documents are required to apply for a Canadian work permit?

The documents required for a Canadian work permit will depend on the type of work permit you are applying for. Applicants may need to submit the following documents as part of their work permit application:

  • Completed Application Forms
  • Proof of status in Canada (if available)
  • Proof of status of a family member (if applicable)
  • Labor Market Impact Assessment (if applicable)
  • Written job offer (if applicable)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) (if applicable)
  • Proof that you meet the job requirements
  • A valid copy of your passport
  • A copy of the certificate of studies
  • Results of the medical examination (on request)
  • Proof of financial means to stay in Canada and return home
  • Proof of payment of applicable government fees
  • Recent passport size photos

Biometrics for Canadian work permits

IRCC currently has a temporary measure exempting applicants applying for a work permit from within Canada. Applicants outside of Canada are still required to provide biometrics when receiving a biometric instruction letter.

Follow the instructions from the Government of Canada on how to give your biometric data on their dedicated page.

Police permits for Canadian work permits

The visa officer reviewing your application may ask you to provide police certificates. Depending on where you are applying, this document may be part of your application checklist and should be submitted with your initial application.

Work permit applicants may be required to present a police certificate from any country in which they have lived for 6 months or more after the age of 18.

Medical examination for a Canadian work permit

Foreign nationals applying to work in Canada may need to pass a medical examination, depending on the length of their intended stay, where they have lived and the job they will be doing.

If you intend to work in Canada for less than 6 months, you probably won't need a medical exam, with some exceptions. If you intend to work in a job that puts you in close contact with people or if you are an agricultural worker who has been to certain countries, you will need a medical examination.

If you plan to work in Canada for more than 6 months, you will need to undergo a medical examination if any of the following conditions apply:

  1. If you have lived or traveled to one of the countries listed on the Find out if you need a medical exam in Canada page for 6 months or more, or
  2. You intend to practice a profession where you will be in close contact with the persons listed in the hyperlink above

Medical examinations must be completed with the team doctor designated by IRCC. You can find a Panel Physician near you on IRCC's Find a Panel Physician webpage.

Applicants have the option of undergoing a prior medical examination. This includes contacting the team doctor directly and taking the test before submitting the work permit application. If you do not provide the results of your medical exam with your application, the IRCC officer will send you instructions on how to take the medical exam and provide you with a deadline for the time required to do so.

Photo requirements for Canadian work permit

Foreign nationals applying for a Canadian work permit must submit a passport-size photo with their application. The image must comply with IRCC specifications.

How long will it take to process my work permit application?

The processing time for a work permit application depends on the type of work permit and the applicant's country of residence at the time the application is submitted. Processing times vary from a few weeks to several months.

How long will it take to process my LMIA application?

There are two types of LMIA applications: a regular LMIA and a simplified LMIA. The simplified LMIA is only available in the province of Quebec. A normal LMIA is handled on a case-by-case basis, with processing times varying widely from applicant to applicant. Typically, it takes at least five months to receive a response to a normal LMIA request.

If your employer qualifies for Canada's Global Talent Stream, they may be eligible for accelerated LMIA processing. A simplified LMIA completed for employment in Quebec is usually processed within approximately two to three months.

What is the success rate of work permit/LMIA applications?

It is not possible to give a success rate for work permit/LMIA applications, as all applications are handled on a case-by-case basis. If the applicant meets the LMIA requirements, their application should be approved. However, applications are assessed by individual employees, each exercising their discretion to choose whether or not to approve the work permit application.

How can I check the status of my work permit application?

If you submitted a work permit application online, you can check the status through your online account. If you submitted a paper application, you can check the status by linking it to an IRCC online account.

Reasons for rejecting a work permit application

Being denied a work permit can be devastating. There are many reasons why a work permit may be refused. If it's unclear why your application was denied, the GCMS Notes Request can help provide a better idea and can help address any officer concerns if you decide to reapply. Here are some common reasons for refusal of a work permit:

  • The agent was not satisfied that you could adequately perform the work you intended to do;
  • The officer is not convinced that you will return to your country of origin at the end of your authorized stay in Canada;
  • You do not meet the criteria for the work permit you are applying for

How can I include my spouse and dependents in my work permit application?

If you are applying for a closed Canadian work permit, your spouse may be eligible for an open work permit.

If your spouse is eligible, they will need to apply for their own work permit. In most cases, they must apply for this permit online.

How do I activate my work permit?

How you activate your work permit will depend on where you are applying from and how you apply.

Activate your work permit after applying from within Canada

If your application is approved after applying for a work permit from within Canada, you will receive an approval letter from IRCC. If you applied online, the approval letter will appear in your account. If you submit a paper application, the letter will arrive at your mailing address. Once you receive your approval letter, your physical work permit will arrive in the mail. The permit will arrive already activated and you can use it to work in Canada.

Activate your work permit after applying from outside Canada

If your application is approved after applying from outside Canada, you will receive a letter with instructions on how to obtain a physical work permit at the Canadian Port of Entry (POE). If you applied online, the letter of instruction will appear in your online account. If you applied on paper, you will receive the letter at your mailing address.

Activate your work permit after submitting your application at the port of entry

Some applicants may be eligible to apply for a work permit at the port of entry into Canada. If you are applying for a work permit at the border, you will need to bring documents proving your eligibility. If approved, the employee can print the work permit immediately at the border. This work permit can be used immediately.

How to find a job in Canada

It can be difficult to start looking for work in Canada. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources for those looking for an official job offer from a Canadian employer. As you begin your job search, we recommend using Canadim's job search resources listed below. Be sure to take the time to prepare your resume and personalize your social media presence before submitting your applications!

  • Canadian Resume Guide
  • Social Media Presence Guide

Some positions in Canada may require a person to know the National Occupational Classification Act (NOC code). This symbol is used to classify all types of jobs according to Canadian standards. Canadim has also developed a tool to help you find your CNP code.

Benefits of working in Canada

Working in Canada has many advantages. Canadian labor laws ensure that workplaces are highly safe and that all employers follow certain laws and regulations to ensure the well-being of their employees. In addition, Canadian salaries are competitive and foreign nationals are required by law to receive a salary equivalent to that of their Canadian counterparts.

Finally, some Canadian work permits allow spouses and children of workers to accompany them to Canada. Another important benefit for those wishing to immigrate to Canada permanently is that by gaining Canadian work experience, a foreign citizen can increase their eligibility for a number of Canadian permanent residency programs. The following programs value, to varying degrees, Canadian work experience:

  • Express Entry
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
  • Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)
  • Federal Professions (FST)
  • Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)
  • Quebec immigration programs
  • Atlantic Pilot Immigration Program

  • How can I extend my work permit?

Generally, temporary foreign workers who are eligible to have their work permit extended must apply online. If you are considering extending your work permit, it is recommended that you do so at least 30 days before the expiry date of your current permit. Although this is a recommendation, the applicant technically has until the last expiration day to submit an extension request.

Contact us to find out if you can extend your work permit.

  • What is my work permit number?

You can find your work permit number in the top right corner of your permit and it starts with the letter "U".

  • Can I work in Canada without a work permit?

Foreign nationals must obtain a work permit to work in Canada, with some exceptions.

  • Can I get a Canadian work permit without a job offer?

Foreign nationals interested in working in Canada generally request a written job offer from a Canadian employer to apply for a work permit. However, certain circumstances allow foreign workers to apply for an open work permit without a job offer, which would allow them to work anywhere in Canada, for any employer.

  • Do Canadian work permits have an age limit?

Foreign workers must be at least 18 years old to obtain a Canadian work permit. There is no upper age limit for work permit applicants unless applying under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program.

  • Can I apply for Canadian health insurance while I have a work permit?

Health care in Canada is managed by each province and territory, which manages its own insurance plan. Some provinces allow work permit holders to apply for provincial health insurance coverage. Most counties require residents to be physically present for a certain number of days before becoming eligible for health insurance.

  • What is the difference between a Canadian work permit and a visa?

A Canadian work permit allows foreign nationals to work in Canada, while a visa is a travel document used to enter the country.

A visa, or temporary resident visa (TRV), is a physical sticker that is placed in your passport and serves as a travel document, allowing foreign nationals to enter Canada or transit through a Canadian airport.

If you leave Canada, you cannot return without a valid visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), even if you have a valid work permit.

  • Do I need IELTS to apply for Canadian work permit?

Canada does not require people applying for a work permit to take the IELTS test or any other English or French language test. However, if the job posting specifically requires French and/or English language skills and the candidate is from a country other than French or English, the employee may request proof of their skills. linguistics, such as a test of language.

  • How long are Canadian work permits valid?

Canadian work permits are generally valid for 1-2 years, with some exceptions. A visa officer will not normally issue a work permit for a period longer than the validity of the applicant's passport or exceeding the validity stated in the applicant's Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). A work permit will also not be issued for a longer period than the foreigner has provided to remain in Canada for a period of time or beyond the duration required for a job offer. The duration of the work permit may also be shorter depending on the program the applicant is applying for.

  • Do I need a Canadian work permit to enter Canada?

If you are traveling outside of Canada, you will need your work permit as well as a valid travel document to re-enter. A work permit allows you to work in Canada, but it alone does not allow you to travel to Canada. To come to Canada, you will need either a temporary resident visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA), as well as a valid passport.

  • Can my employer sponsor me to work in Canada?

Canadian employers do not "sponsor" candidates to work in Canada, but can help bring in foreign workers by obtaining a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or submitting an electronic job offer (categories exempt from the LMIA).

Canada requires that any Canadian employer wishing to hire a foreign worker obtain an LMIA or submit a job offer electronically. Once an employer has obtained an LMIA or "A" (electronic job offer) number, it can be used to apply for a Canadian work permit.


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