Each year, Canada issues about half a million work permits to temporary foreign workers around the world, allowing them to engage in employment within its borders.
Working in Canada is also an excellent first step for those seeking to immigrate to the country permanently. Canada is a prime destination for foreign nationals seeking employment opportunities.
Can anyone work in Canada?
Some foreign nationals are exempt from needing a permit to work in Canada.
The majority of candidates will need a Canadian job offer with a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in order to apply for a work permit. There are exceptions to this requirement, where foreign workers may apply for a work permit without an LMIA. A recent graduate from a Canadian Designated Learning Institute (DLI), or a spouse of a Canadian citizen with a work or study permit, may qualify for this.
To qualify for a work permit, applicants must also meet the following requirements:
✅Show their intent to leave once their work authorization expires
✅Ensure they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their families in Canada
✅Are not inadmissible to Canada due to criminal or medical reasons
✅Work for an eligible employer
✅Can provide any required documents to prove their eligibility to enter Canada
The process of obtaining a Canadian work permit
The process for obtaining a Canadian work permit varies greatly depending on which type of work permit a person is applying for. As part of their study permit authorization, international students in Canada are often automatically permitted to work part-time.
For most closed work permit applications, a foreign national must have a job offer from a Canadian employer supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment. It is important to be aware of the unique documentation required of those who are exempt from the LMIA or do not require a work permit in order to ensure their entry into Canada. It is possible to obtain a Canadian work permit in two different ways: a closed (restricted) or an open one.
Foreign nationals issued closed work permits must remain with the same employer at the same location unless they change their work permit.
On a Canadian work permit, what can I do?
Physical work permits specify what restrictions apply to them. These restrictions are mainly determined by the type of work permit you are eligible for. In addition to the type of work you can do, where and with whom you can work, and how long you can work, conditions may also apply. It is illegal for all work permit holders to work at a business where there is a possibility of sexual exploitation.
By the end of their authorized stay, work permit holders must leave the country, as they are not permanent residents. For an evaluation of your immigration options, complete our free assessment form if you are currently working in Canada and would like to remain permanently.
Is it possible to include my family on my work permit application?
Your spouse and dependent children may be able to accompany you to Canada if you apply for an employer-sponsored work permit.
Your children who are school-aged in Canada may attend Canadian educational institutions without requiring a separate study permit. Your spouse or partner may also qualify for an open work permit, allowing them to work for any employer in Canada.
What is the process for applying for a work permit?
Different types of work permits require different applications. The first step is to determine which type of work permit you will need. We will be happy to assist you with scheduling a consultation if you need help figuring out the application.
How do I apply for a Canadian work permit? What documents do I need?
Depending on the type of Canadian work permit you are applying for, you will need to provide the following documents:
✅Forms completed by applicants
✅(If applicable) Proof of Canadian status
✅Proof of family status (if applicable)
✅Assessment of the labour market impact (if applicable)
✅An offer of employment in writing (if applicable)
✅Certificate of marriage (if applicable)
✅The Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) (if applicable)
✅You must provide proof that you meet the job requirements
✅Passport copy that is valid
✅Credentials of education
✅Results of medical exams (if requested)
✅Financial proof that one can stay in Canada and return to one’s home country
✅Fees paid to the government
✅Passport-sized photos taken recently
Work permits for Canadians require biometrics
As of right now, IRCC has a temporary measure that exempts applicants from providing biometrics who are applying for work permits from within Canada. Candidates outside of Canada are still required to provide biometrics upon receiving a biometrics instruction letter.
Work permits for Canadians require police clearances
In certain cases, the visa officer reviewing your application may require you to provide a police clearance certificate. This document may be part of your application checklist and must be attached to your initial application.
Applicants for work permits may be required to provide a police clearance certificate from any country where they have lived for 6 months or more.
Work permit medical exam for Canadians
Medical exams may be required of foreign nationals applying to work in Canada, depending on how long they plan to stay, where they have lived, and what they plan to do.
A medical exam is likely not required if you intend to work in Canada for less than 6 months, with some exceptions. If you intend to work in a job that involves close contact with people or if you are an agricultural worker who has visited certain countries, you will need a medical exam.
The following conditions will require you to take a medical exam if you are planning to work in Canada for more than six months:
✅Visiting one of the countries listed on Canada’s ‘Find out if you need a medical exam’ page for six months or more.
✅Your occupation will put you in close contact with the people listed in the above-mentioned link
✅You can find a panel physician near you on IRCC’s Find a Panel Physician webpage.
✅An applicant has the option of taking an upfront medical exam. This involves contacting the panel physician directly and taking the exam before submitting the work permit application. The IRCC officer will contact you if you do not provide the results of your medical exam with your application and will provide instructions on how to complete the exam.
Canadian work permit photo requirements
To apply for a Canadian work permit, foreign nationals must submit a passport-sized photo that meets the specifications of the IRCC.
Can you tell me how long it will take to process my work permit application?
A work permit application takes anywhere from a few weeks to several months to process, depending on the type of permit and the applicant’s country of residence.
When will my LMIA application be processed?
LMIA applications can be classified into two types: a standard LMIA and a simplified LMIA. A simplified LMIA is only available in the province of Quebec. Regular LMIAs are processed on a case-by-case basis, with processing times varying greatly from applicant to applicant. The average response time to a regular LMIA application is five months.
The simplified LMIA completed for Quebec employment takes approximately two to three months to process if an employer is eligible for Canada’s Global Talent Stream
How successful are work permit/LMIA applications?
It is impossible to give a rate of success for work permit/LMIA applications, since all applications are processed on a case-by-case basis. If an applicant meets the requirements of the LMIA, their application should be approved. Each officer, however, has their own discretion when deciding whether or not to approve a work permit application.
What is the status of my work permit application?
You can check the status of an online work permit application through your online account. If you submitted a paper-based application, you can link it to an online IRCC account to check the status.
Refusal of a work permit application
The refusal of a work permit can be devastating. It is possible to receive a work permit refusal for a number of reasons. If it is unclear why your application was refused, you may be able to get a better idea if you apply for GCMS notes, and you can address the officer’s concerns if you decide to reapply. Some common reasons for a work permit refusal include:
✅You weren’t convinced that you could perform your intended tasks adequately;
✅At the end of your authorised stay in Canada, the officer was not convinced that you would return to your home country;
✅The work permit you applied for does not meet the requirements
If I apply for a work permit, how can I include my spouse and dependents?
Your spouse may be eligible for an open work permit if you apply for a closed Canadian work permit.
In most cases, your spouse will need to apply online for their own work permit if they are eligible.
What is the process for activating my work permit?
The process of activating your work permit depends on where and how you apply.
After applying from within Canada, activating your work permit
In the event that your application is approved after applying for a work permit within Canada, IRCC will issue you an approval letter. If you applied online, the approval letter will appear in your account. If you submitted a paper-based application, the letter will arrive in your mail. As soon as you receive your approval letter, your physical work permit will arrive by mail. Upon receiving the permit, you will be able to work in Canada immediately.
How to activate your work permit after applying from outside Canada?
The letter with instructions on how to obtain your physical work permit from the Canadian port of entry (POE) will be sent to you if your application is approved after applying from outside of Canada. If you applied online, the instruction letter will appear on your online account. If you applied in person, the letter will be mailed to you.
After applying at the port of entry, activating your work permit
At the port of entry into Canada, some applicants may be eligible to apply for work permits. When applying for a work permit at the border, you must bring documents proving your eligibility. If approved, the officer may print the work permit right away. This work permit can be used immediately.
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