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.
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
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.
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;
A new time limit for high-wage Canadian temporary work permits may be imposed, but has not yet been announced.
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 workforces do not comply with this new 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.
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.
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.