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Work Visa 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.

Definition of Work

“Work” is defined in the Regulations as an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.

Note: An activity which does not really ‘take away’ from opportunities for Canadians or permanent residents to gain employment or experience in the workplace is not “work” for the purposes of the definition.


Most of the people visiting Canada need work permits to work in Canada.

Two types of work permits

  • Open work permits
  • Employer specific work permit

An open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada, except for an employer:

  • who is listed as ineligible on the list of employers who have failed to comply with the conditions, or
  • who regularly offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages.

You can only get an open work permit in specific situations.

An employer-specific work permit allows you to work according to the conditions on your work permit, which include:

  • the name of the employer you can work for,
  • how long you can work, and
  • the location where you can work (if applicable).


A work permit or authorization to work without a permit is required in order for a foreign national to be allowed to work in Canada under either of the following programs:

  • the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

    Employers must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to hire foreign workers to fill temporary labour and skill shortages. The LMIA verifies that there is a need for a temporary worker and that no Canadians are available to do the job.

  • the International Mobility Program (IMP)

    The IMP lets employers hire temporary workers without an LMIA. Exemptions from the LMIA process are based on both of the following:

    • the broader economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada
    • the reciprocal benefits enjoyed by Canadians and permanent residents


If you are working with a Canadian employer on a temporary work permit and the employer has made you an offer for permanent employment, you may be eligible to apply for your permanent residency under the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Such an offer is referred to as arranged employment.


An important general eligibility requirement for a Canadian work permit is that the applicant must prove that he/she will leave Canada upon expiry of the work permit. This clearly shows that the work permit is a temporary permit designed to enable foreigners to live and work in Canada for a specific period of time. This is why employer-specific work permits must specify the start and end date of the job for which the foreign candidate is being hired.

Yet, temporary work experience can be very useful in obtaining Canadian permanent residence. But, merely having a work permit does not guarantee permanent residence under Express Entry. The first factor to consider is the eligibility requirements to enter the Express Entry pool.

The applicant must qualify under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST), or the Canadian Experience Class Program (CEC) under Express Entry. If, instead of Express Entry, the temporary worker wants to immigrate to Quebec, they must qualify for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSW) or the Quebec Experience Class Program (PEQ). The requirements of each program vary, which means the work permit holder must assess his or her eligibility for each program separately.

The Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) allots points for a wide range of factors. Canadian work experience can help the work permit holder score up to 70 points in the Core/Human Capital factor, and up to 100 points in the Skills Transferability factor when calculating points under the Express Entry CRS grid. A valid job offer can fetch up to 200 additional points.

Simply put, a work permit holder with valid work experience and a valid job offer under Express Entry may enjoy a 370 point advantage over other applicants, which translates into better chances of receiving an Invitation to Apply and, subsequently, becoming a permanent resident in Canada.

VALID WORK EXPERIENCE: REQUIREMENTS

To qualify for permanent residence under FSW or CEC, the applicant must fulfill the following requirements with respect to work experience:

  • Work experience must be paid, continuous, and full time (at least 30 hours per week for 52 weeks) in one or multiple jobs or part time of the equivalent duration (at least 15 hours per week for 104 weeks).
  • The job must fall under skill type 0, A, or B under the National Occupation Classification (NOC).
  • The job must match the primary NOC of the applicant.
  • The job duties must match the duties described in the NOC.

FSW & CEC:

Under Federal Skilled Worker, the one year of Canadian work experience is only valid if it is done within the past ten years of the application. In the case of Canadian Experience Class, this period is reduced to three years.

FST:

Under the Federal Skilled Trades program, work experience must fall under Major Group 72, 73, 82, 92 and Minor Group 632, 633 under skill type B of the NOC.

QSW & PEQ:

The Quebec Skilled Worker Program and Quebec Experience Class Program have the same requirements as FSW and CEC, with the exception that part-time work is not considered eligible. 

VALID JOB OFFER

For FSW, FST, and CEC, the job offer held by the applicant must fulfill the conditions detailed above or else it won’t be considered when determining eligibility. Further, the employer must obtain a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for the job offer unless you are holding a LMIA-approved work permit or an LMIA-exempt work permit for an eligible job.

Further, the duration of the job offered is for at least one year after the work permit holder obtains permanent residence. So, a job offer for a period of less than one year, such as a seasonal position or on a contract basis, or an offer for an ineligible job is not considered valid to apply for permanent residence.

OTHER FACTORS

A work permit, by virtue of its temporary nature, is often easier to obtain compared to permanent residence. While work experience and a valid job offer can offer a significant advantage when applying for permanent residence, the applicant must fulfill other requirements like language skills, adequacy of funds, and educational qualification.

While there are no educational requirements under CEC, the FSW requires an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) if the applicant does not have a secondary or post-secondary diploma or degree from a Canadian institution.

Atlantic Immigration Pilot

The Atlantic Provinces and Federal government are working together on immigration programs to meet your needs and the region’s needs. If you are an employer in the Atlantic region, you can hire skilled workers and international student graduates who want to permanently live in one of the Atlantic Provinces:

  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Nova Scotia
  • Prince Edward Island 

A Labour Market Impact Assessment is not needed for Atlantic Immigration Pilot programs.


The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is closed to new applicants. You can only hire a caregiver through the LCP if you have:

  • found a caregiver who already has a work permit in the LCP and who is looking for a new employer and
  • been approved for a Labour Market Impact Assessment that shows the caregiver has agreed to live in your home

If this does not apply to you, you can still hire a foreign caregiver. You and the caregiver can decide if they will live in or out of your home. You will need to get a positive LMIA from Service Canada and the caregiver must apply for a regular work permit.


You can hire eligible students while they study or after they graduate.

Study permit holders may be eligible to work off campus without a work permit as soon as they begin their studies in Canada.

These students who are eligible may work for any eligible Canadian employer

  • for up to 20 hours a week while class is in session and
  • full-time during scheduled breaks.

To qualify, students must:

  • have a valid study permit
  • be a full-time student
  • be enrolled at a designated learning institution at the post-secondary level or, in Quebec, a vocational program at the secondary level and
  • be studying in a program that:
    • is academic, vocational or professional training
    • leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
    • is at least six months long.

Students must make sure they meet these criteria and apply for a Social Insurance Number.

As an employer, you should make sure the student you hire has a valid study permit. You may want to ask the student for a letter of enrolment to confirm that they are studying full-time in an eligible program at a post-secondary school (or a vocational program at the secondary level in Quebec).

Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

Foreign students who have completed a program of at least eight months at an eligible Canadian school may apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit. This permit lets them work for any eligible employer in Canada for up to three years, depending on the length of their study program.

  • It is up to the foreign worker to apply for a work permit.
  • These permits are open work permits. They let the student to work for any eligible employer in Canada.
  • A Post-Graduation Work Permit can last up to three years, depending on the length of the study program.

Students with work experience may be eligible to apply for permanent residence through Express Entry.

Students, with or without work experience, may also be eligible for Provincial Nominee Programs.


Business people and business visitors are not the same.

Business people come to do business under a free trade agreement.

Business people can enter and work in Canada if they qualify under one of these agreements:

  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
  • Other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)
  • General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

NAFTA lets citizens of Canada, the United States and Mexico gain quick entry into each other’s countries for temporary business or investment reasons.

These people do not need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This means that Canadian employers do not need to have a job offer approved by Employment and Social Development Canada to hire an American or a Mexican business person.

Under NAFTA, business people must meet the general rules for temporary entry to Canada.

There are four groups of business people under NAFTA:

  • business visitors
  • professionals
  • intra-company transferees
  • traders and investors

Business visitors

A business visitor is someone who comes to Canada to take part in international business activities without being part of the Canadian labour market. Business visitors usually stay in Canada for a few days or a few weeks but are able to stay for up to six months. Business visitors do not need a work permit.

Professionals

To work in Canada as a professional, you must:

  • be qualified to work in one of the jobs set out in NAFTA (for example, accountant, computer systems analyst or engineer),
  • have a job offer from a Canadian business in that field and
  • have a work permit.

Intra-company transferee

This is a person who is sent to work for the same company in a different country. If this is your case, you must:

  • have worked
    • on an ongoing basis,
    • for at least one year in the last three years,
    • for the same or a related employer in the United States or Mexico,
  • be transferred to Canada to work short term for the same or a related employer,
  • work as a manager, as an executive or in a job that uses specialized knowledge, and
  • have a work permit.

Traders and investors

To work in Canada as a trader or investor, you must:

  • be involved in planning, as a supervisor or executive, or in a role that involves essential skills,
    • a large amount of trade in goods or services, mainly between Canada and your home country, or
    • a large investment in Canada by you or your company,
  • meet any other rules of NAFTA and
  • have a work permit.
Other Free Trade Agreements

Other free trade agreements (FTAs), such as

  • the Canada-Chile FTA,  
  • the Canada-Peru FTA,
  • the Canada-Colombia FTA, and
  • the Canada-Korea FTA

are modelled on NAFTA to make it easier for business people from one country to enter another country for a short time.

The rules are similar to those under NAFTA and cover business people such as:

  • business visitors
  • professionals
  • intra-company transferees
  • traders and investors

Learn more about rules for business people under other free trade agreements.

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Under GATS, Canada agreed to make it easier for foreign business people to access the Canadian services market. This applies to service providers from more than 140 World Trade Organization member countries.

Three groups of business people are covered:

  • business visitors
  • professionals
  • intra-company transferees

Qualified business people can enter Canada more easily because they do not need an LMIA from the Government of Canada or, in the case of business visitors, a work permit.

If you are intrested to immigrate to Canada, fill out our online assessment form.

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