You usually need a work permit to work in Canada. In some cases, you can work without a permit.
Get the right work permit for your situation.
There are 2 types of work permits:
An employer-specific work permit lets you work in Canada according to the conditions on your work permit, such as:
- the name of the specific employer you can work for
- how long you can work
- the location where you can work (if applicable)
Before you submit your application for an employer-specific work permit, the employer who wants to hire you must complete certain steps and give you either a copy of a Labour Market Impact Assessment or an offer of employment number to include in your application.
An open work permit lets you work for any employer in Canada, except for one that:
- is listed as ineligible on the list of employers who have failed to comply with the conditions or
- regularly offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages
You can only get an open work permit in specific situations.
Not sure which one you should get? Find out what type of work permit you need for your situation.
Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP)
If you are currently working in Canada on a work permit which will soon expire and you have applied for permanent residence through the Express Entry system, you may be eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP). As the name suggests, a BOWP is issued to bridge the gap between the expiry of the work permit and the final decision on the permanent residence application.
After an electronic application for permanent residence (e-APR) is submitted through the Express Entry system, an Acknowledgement of Receipt letter is generated in the applicant’s MyCIC account. This letter provides a file number and confirms that the application has been received. Applicants who are eligible for a BOWP may apply immediately after receipt of this letter.
In order to be eligible for a BOWP, the e-APR must first pass a completeness check. This means that an Immigration Officer has done an initial assessment of the application and has verified that all necessary information and documentation has been received. If the completeness check is successful, the application for a BOWP will then be processed. If the e-APR is found to be incomplete, the application for permanent residence will be rejected and the application for a BOWP will be refused. Therefore, if you are relying on a BOWP to continue working in Canada, it is very important that your permanent residence application is completed accurately. If your application is rejected and your work permit has expired, you will be unable to submit another BOWP application with the new e-APR.
In addition to passing the completeness check, to be eligible for a BOWP an applicant must:
- Be currently in Canada;
- Have valid status on a work permit that is due to expire within the next four months;
- Be the main applicant on the permanent residence application submitted; and
- Have applied for an open work permit which includes the processing fee.
LMIA-Exempt Work Permit
The following sections of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) provide the IRCC with the regulatory authority to issue a work permit for temporary positions that do not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
- R204: International agreements – Canada-International Free Trade Agreements (FTA) (CUSMA/USMCA, GATS, CETA, CPTP, ETC.), Canada-International Non-Trade Agreements (SITA, IATA, etc.);
- R205: Canadian interests (Significant benefit (unique work situations), Reciprocal employment, research, competitiveness and public policy, Charitable or religious work);
- R206: No other means of support (Refugee claimants, and persons under unenforceable removal orders);
- R207: Permanent residence applicants in Canada (spouse or common-law partner in Canada, Convention refugees, successful pre-removal risk assessment applicants; and
- R208: Humanitarian reasons (holder of a Temporary Resident Permit of 6 months or more with no means of support).
Under these regulations, employers can avoid the lengthy and complex LMIA process.
Exemptions apply to the following types of Work permits:
- Work permit for a start-up visa entrepreneur if they do not intend to immigrate to Canada;
- Work permit for the key personnel for the new start-up visa office;
- Work Permit for employees of international Organizations with divisions in Canada, under the International Mobility Program (IMP), Canada’s International Agreements and Non-trade-related agreements; and
- Work permit for after-sales service specialists (installation, repair or maintenance of industrial or commercial equipment).
Intra- company transfer (ICT) – existing subsidiary in Canada
The first key element of an LMIA-exempt application is to establish the relationship between the Canadian organization and the parent company, branch or affiliate outside Canada. To be eligible for the intra-company transfer to the Canadian office, the foreign national eligible must have been employed for a minimum of one year in the same position by the parent company, subsidiary, branch or affiliate company outside Canada. The transferred personnel have the option to be joined by their family members for the period they will work in Canada. Contact us for exploring the best options for the employer and for your transferees.
LMIA-exempt applications involve two phases:
- the employer must submit an offer of employment to the IRCC, together with the employer compliance fee, and provide the foreign national with the offer of employment number (the AA number); and
- the work permit application, together with a visitor visa for each family member, spouse work permit, and/or dependent children study permit/visitor record, depending on the situation.
Note: If your job is at the NOC 0 (managerial, executive) or NOC A (professional) level, you may be eligible for a two-week application processing.
The application must be submitted online, must be complete, and the application fees must be paid correctly.
International Experience Canada (IEC) Work Permit
A work permit under this category is meant for youth between 18 and 35 years from a country of citizenship that has an agreement with Canada that allows applying for an IEC work permit. There are three categories, but not all three are applicable to all countries: working holiday, young professionals and international Co-op internship.
The working holiday category provides an open work permit, while the young professionals and the international Co-op internship provide employer-specific work permits.
It is important to keep updated, as the eligibility requirements for countries and categories are continuously changing.
For example, Chilean citizens may participate in IEC twice, under any of the three categories. Under the Young Professionals category, Chilean citizens, particularly post-secondary graduates, who wish to further their careers by gaining professional work experience in Canada for up to 12 months can submit their profile to the pool. To be eligible, the Chilean citizen must:
- be of age between the ages of 18 and 35 (inclusive)
- have a signed letter of offer or contract of employment in Canada—the employment offer must be in their field of expertise and enhance their professional development
- provide proof of financial resources to help cover expenses in Canada, and to purchase a departure ticket at the end of the authorized stay in Canada
- provide evidence of health insurance
- not be accompanied by dependents
- be admissible to Canada
To determine your eligibility please contact us
Post Graduation Work Permit
The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program allows most international students who have graduated from an eligible program at a post-secondary institution to gain valuable Canadian work experience. A minimum of one year of work experience in managerial, professional or technical positions (i.e., at level 0, A or B under the National Occupational Classification system) will be necessary to apply to stay permanently through the Canadian Experience Class.
The changes to the program include extending the duration of the work permit to three years across the country for those whose program of study is at least two years (previously, permits could be granted for only one or two years, depending on location); providing the flexibility for new graduates to work in any field and not just their field of study; and removing the requirement to have a job offer.
To be eligible for the program, international students:
- Must have studied full-time for the eight months preceding the completion of their program of studies and have graduated from: a public post-secondary institution, such as a college, university or CEGEP (in Quebec); or
- a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions, and that receives at least 50 percent of its financing for its overall operations from government grants (currently, only private college-level educational institutions in Quebec qualify); or
- a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial or territorial statute to confer degrees.
- Must apply for a work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation (for example, a transcript or an official letter) from the institution that they have met the requirements of the academic program.
- Must have completed and passed the program of study and received a notification that they are eligible to obtain their degree, diploma or certificate.
- Must have a valid study permit when they apply for the work permit.
Note that if the student’s program of study is less than two years but at least eight months, the student would be eligible for a post-graduate work permit. However, the validity period of the work permit must not be longer than the period of study of the graduate at the particular post-secondary institution in Canada.
International students not eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program include the following:
- Students participating in a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program or a Government of Canada Awards Program funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
- Students receiving funding from the Canadian International Development Agency and participating in a distance learning program.
- Students who have previously been issued a post-graduation work permit after any other program of study. However, note that graduates who are already working with a work permit issued under the previous rules are eligible to apply for an extension.
A new regulation allows professionals seeking to work temporarily in Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement can now receive work permits for up to three years, which may be renewed thereafter.
Under the NAFTA treaty, citizens of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico may work, conduct business or engage in investment activities in any of the 3 countries.
Businesspeople covered under NAFTA do not need a labour market opinion from Human Resources and Social Development Canada, however, are still required to comply with the general provisions on temporary entry to Canada.
Previously, the regulation required NAFTA workers to renew their permits every 12 months. A NAFTA Work permit is a good option for North American professionals such as lawyers, doctors, dentists and teachers who want to work temporarily in Canada.
Previously, NAFTA workers were required to renew their permits every 12 months. Permanent residents of Canada, U.S. and Mexico are not covered under the NAFTA work permit. *
General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
GATS make it easier for certain businesspeople who are foreign service providers in certain sectors to access the Canadian market. The commitments apply to service providers from more than 140 World Trade Organization member countries.
Three categories of businesspeople who are covered: business visitors, professionals and intra-company transferees. Qualified businesspeople can enter Canada more easily because they do not need a labour market opinion from HRSDC or, in the case of business visitors, a work permit.