All foreign workers, except for some exceptions, require a Work Permit to work in Canada. There are several steps involved in obtaining a temporary Work Permit in Canada. The whole process can take a number of weeks. You may be able to expedite the Work Permit process depending on your country of origin and occupation.
You will need any one of the following to obtain a Temporary Work Permit in Canada:
- An offer of employment number issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
- An approval from ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada)
Depending on your country of origin, you may need to travel to Canada on a Temporary Resident Visa.
Here are the steps involved in obtaining a Work Permit for Canada:
- Your employer files for an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) or an LMIA exemption wherever necessary
- Once the employer gets the LMIA approval or exemption, they extend a temporary job offer to you
- You apply for a Work Permit at the nearest Consulate or Canadian Embassy in your home country
- The immigration authorities of Canada issue your Work Permit
Employer files for an LMIA
If you are a Canadian employer and want to hire a foreign worker, you must obtain a positive LMIA for ESDC. The ESDC will issue a positive LMIA if it is satisfied that there is no available Canadian citizen or resident to do the job.
If you are being hired to work in Quebec, your employer will need to obtain a CAQ for you to work temporarily in Quebec. The employer needs to submit the CAQ application to MIFI at the same time as they submit an LMIA to ESDC.
The MIFI and ESDC have a provision of a streamlined LMIA process for Quebec employers to fill in selected job positions without including proof of hiring efforts.
There are a few limited situations where foreign workers can obtain a Canadian Work Permit without an LMIA. Such Work Permits are called LMIA Exempt Work Permits and may be available to the following:
- If your country has an international agreement with Canada like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) or CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership)
- Your working in Canada is in the greater interest of Canada:
- As you impart social, economic and cultural benefits to Canadians
- Canada has a reciprocal agreement with your country like youth or teacher exchange programs
- You are an international student studying in Canada who needs to fulfil academic requirements known as co-op placements
- You are the spouse of a Work or Study Permit holder of Canada who is currently living in Canada
- You need to come to Canada for religious or charitable work
- Certain other claims like an asylum or refugee may grant you an LMIA Exempt Work Permit to work in the country
Employer extends a temporary offer of employment
Once ESDC grants a positive LMIA, your Canadian employer must give you a copy of the LMIA along with a detailed job offer letter. You will need both these documents to apply for a Work Permit for Canada.
The foreign worker applies for Work Permit
If you are a foreign worker and have received the LMIA and the job offer letter, you may submit a Work Permit application to IRCC. If your job is in Quebec, you will also need to submit a CAQ. Citizens of some countries would need to travel to Canada on a TRV (Temporary Resident Visa) to submit their Canadian Work Permit application at a visa office in Canada.
Work Permit is issued
The temporary Work Permit of Canada will be issued at the port of entry when you arrive in Canada by a CBSA officer (Canada Border Services Agency). Your temporary Work Permit may be valid from a few weeks to a few years.
Most Canadian Work Permits are “closed” Work Permits which means it is employer-specific. This means that you may only work for the employer specified in your Work Permit. If you do not have Permanent Resident status yet and receive a job offer from another employer, you will need a new Work Permit to work for the new employer. The new employer would need to go through similar steps like your previous employer.
You must note that a Work Permit allows you to work in Canada for a specific amount of time. If you want to settle down permanently in Canada, you must apply for the Permanent Resident Visa of Canada.
You can apply for the Canada PR Visa process through any one of the available immigration programs. However, most foreign workers in Canada prefer to apply under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or any of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).
Canadian work experience accounts for additional points in the Express Entry Program which manages the application pool for FSWP, FSTP and CEC programs. The added points can help enhance your CRS score in the Express Entry Pool. If you have not yet checked your CRS score, you may do so with a CRS Points calculator. Another advantage is that CEC candidates are exempted from showing proof of funds which can be a hefty amount depending on the size of your family. Plus, you would have gained valuable Canadian work experience which will make you much more attractive to Canadian employers than other candidates.