One of the questions we receive the most is “How can I work in Canada?”
Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations define work 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.”
In most cases, the first step to obtaining a Canadian work permit is to obtain a job offer from a Canadian employer. Once you have a qualifying job offer in place you can begin the process of applying for your Canadian work permit. When seeking to work in Canada, or send workers into Canada, you need to be aware of all of the applicable requirements. Some workers may be work permit exempt depending on the type of work they will be doing in Canada and the duration that they will be working in Canada. Others workers may require a work permit as well as a Labour Market Impact Assessment from the Canadian government confirming the need for a foreign worker to enter the Canadian work force. In some cases, workers are exempt from the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment due to government directives and international trade agreements.
Individuals of a certain age whose countries have an agreement in place with Canada can
apply for an open work permit for up to two years in duration without a job offer through the International Experience Canada (IEC) program which includes working
Canada offers two types of work permits: open work permits and employer specific work permits. Open work permits allow you to work for almost any employer in Canada, in any part of Canada. Employer specific work permits only allow you to work for the employer named on your work permit at the location listed on your work permit.
How to apply for a work permit
Once you have received a job offer from a Canadian employer, in most cases the next step is for the employer to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment to allow them to hire a foreign national. You will also be required to submit a copy of the Labour Market Impact Assessment with your work permit Application if applicable.
Once you have the approved Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in place you can then proceed to submit your work permit application. Canadian work permit applications can be submitted online through the Government of Canada website.
When applying for a Canadian work permit you may be able to obtain permits for your spouse and dependent children to accompany you to Canada. Also, depending on the level of the position being offered to you, your spouse may be eligible for an Open Work Permit. For any children who wish to accompany you to Canada you need to remember that only children under the age of 22 can be included with your application.
Who is exempt from requiring a work permit?
Those entering Canada to perform certain activities may be exempt from requiring a Work Permit. Below is a list of those exemptions with a brief description. Certain other restrictions may apply:
- There must be no intent to enter the Canadian Labour Market
- The activity of the foreign worker must be international in scope
- There is the presumption that:
- the primary source of the worker’s remuneration remains outside Canada;
- the principal place of the worker’s employer is located outside Canada;
- the accrual of profits of the worker’s employer is located outside Canada.
Foreign Representatives and their family members
- Must be accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), and are in Canada to carry out official duties as a diplomatic agent, consular officer, representative or official of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or any of its agencies or of any international organization of which Canada is a member.
- Family members of persons who have been accredited with diplomatic status may work without a permit if they are issued a “no-objection letter” by the Protocol Department of the DFATD. Such persons may also seek a work permit if they require one to satisfy potential employers that they have the right to work in Canada
Applies to military and civilian personnel in possession of movement orders outlining that they are coming to Canada from countries designated under the terms of the Visiting Forces Act (VFA).
Foreign Government Officers
- an employee of another government who is working under an exchange agreement that lets officials work in government departments in Canada and your country,
- a diplomat or official representative of another country, or
- a diplomat or official representative of the United Nations and its staff.
Full-time post-secondary students may work without a work permit on the campus of the university or college at which they are a full-time student
- Foreign-based musical and theatrical individuals and groups and their essential crew;
- Street performers (buskers), DJs;
- Foreign or traveling circus;
- Guest artists (not employed) within a Canadian performance group for a time-limited engagement;
- Wrestlers from the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) (and similar groups);
- Persons performing at a private event for a time-limited engagement, such as a wedding;
- Air show performers;
- Artists working at or attending a showcase or workshop; which may include competing, judging competitors, demonstrating their skill, and holding a class related to the showcase or workshop, as well as visual artists creating or displaying their own work (normally no more than five days, although some flexibility in duration may be permitted);
- Rodeo contestants (e.g., bronco-riders, steer-ropers, barrel racers).
Athletes and Team Members
- Foreign professional or amateur athletes participating in sports activities or events in Canada either as an individual participant or as members of a foreign-based team or a Canadian amateur team.
- Examples include:
- Amateur players on Canadian teams
- Foreign pet owners entering their animals in a show in Canada
- Jockeys racing horses from foreign-based stables
- Racing car drivers
- Persons attending professional team tryouts
- Individuals that have the necessary combination of team role, skills and qualifications that make them essential members of the team
- Full or part-time coaches or trainers of foreign athletes;
- Polo grooms.
News Reporters and Media Crews
- News reporters and their crews coming to Canada for the purpose of reporting on events in Canada
- Includes journalists working for print, broadcast or Internet news service providers provided the company is not Canadian
- Employees of a foreign news company who are resident correspondents are included
- Managerial or clerical personnel are excluded
- Guest speakers for specific events including an academic speaker at a university or college function and commercial speakers or seminar leaders
- The seminar to be given should not last longer than five days.
- Persons organizing a convention or conference, and to administrative support staff of the organizing committee.
- The types of event which are covered are association and corporate meetings and congresses, incentive meetings, trade shows or exhibitions and consumer exhibitions/shows.
- This section does not apply to “hands-on” service providers such as those who provide audio-visual services, installation and dismantling, show decorating or services, or exhibit builders.
Persons whose employment will consist mainly of preaching of doctrine, presiding at liturgical functions or providing spiritual counselling, either as an ordained minister, a lay person, or a member of a religious order.
Judges, Referees and Similar Officials
- Referees and similar officials involved in an international amateur sports competition, or an international cultural or artistic event or competition, or an animal or agricultural competition.
- The event should be organized by an international amateur sporting association and should be hosted by a Canadian organization
- Events may include international or university games, winter or summer Olympics, etc
- An “amateur” sports competition is generally defined as one in which the participating athletes are not paid to compete or otherwise participate in the event, although there may be exceptions to this definition.
Examiners and Evaluators
- Eminent individuals who direct the studies and review the work done by university students that are under their tutelage to, on occasion, enter Canada to review their student’s thesis and papers.
- Also includes foreign professors and researchers seeking entry to evaluate academic university programs or research proposals
Expert Witnesses or Investigators
Experts who are entering to conduct surveys or analyses to be used as evidence, or persons who will be expert witnesses before a regulatory body, tribunal or court of law.
Health Care Students
- Foreign students, registered at foreign educational institutions outside Canada can enter to do their clinical clerkships or short-term practicums in Canada in fields such as:
- Occupational and physical therapy
- Medical technology
- Written permission from the body that regulates the particular health field is required in order to ensure that Canadian health care students are placed for clinical practice first
- The primary purpose of the practicum must be to acquire training in the related field
- These positions will often be unpaid
- These positions should not be more than four months’ in duration.
Civil Aviation Inspectors
- Flight operations inspectors and cabin safety inspectors who enter the country temporarily while inspecting safety procedures on commercial international flights.
- These inspectors must be employed by the recognized aeronautical authority conducting the inspections, and would be in possession of valid documentation and/or identification establishing that they are aviation inspectors carrying out inspection duties.
Aviation Accident or Incident Inspector
Accredited representatives or advisors participating in an aviation accident or incident investigation conducted under the authority of the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act.
- Crew members working on any means of transportation that is foreign-owned and not registered in Canada, which is engaged primarily in international transportation.
- Duties must be related to the operation or maintenance of the means of transportation or the provision of services to passengers.
Emergency Service Providers
- Individuals who come to Canada for the purpose of rendering services in times of emergency.
- These services should be aimed at preserving life and property.
- The emergency may be the result of natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and fires. It may also be the result of industrial or commercial accidents threatening the environment or it may simply be a medical emergency where admission should be facilitated to preserve life regardless of whether it involves one or more persons.
Those on Implied Status
- Allows for persons to continue working under the conditions of an expired work permit, as long as they applied for a new work permit before the original work permit expired and have remained in Canada.
- Once the decision on the application for the new work permit has been made, the client will either have to leave Canada or will continue as a worker who holds a valid work permit.
- Allows certain students to work off campus without a work permit for up to 20 hours per week during a regular academic session and full time during regularly scheduled breaks, provided that:
- They hold a valid study permit;
- They are full-time students enrolled at a designated learning institution;
- The program in which they are enrolled is a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program, or a vocational training program at the secondary level offered in Quebec;
- The program of study is at least six month or more in duration and one that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate; and
- They continue to fulfil the terms and conditions of their study permit
Who is exempt from requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?
Certain individuals seeking to work in Canada may require a Canadian work permit but may be exempt from requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). If the Canadian employer is exempt from obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), in some cases they will need to register your job offer through an online portal and pay a Canadian Employer Compliance Fee of $230.00.
Click here to view a simplified list of those who would be exempt from requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).