How to Get a Canadian Work Permit

Do you know that over 400,000 foreign workers get to work in Canada every year?

If you intend to work in Canada and have a better life, the above statistics is proof that it is very possible to achieve this dream of yours.

Canada has one of the leading economies in the world and hence, is a prime destination for foriegn individuals who are seeking employment opportunities abroad.

An individual who is neither a citizen or a permanent resident in Canada will require a work permit to be able to work legally in Canada.

The Canadian work permit allows foreign temporary and permanent workers, business men and women, students and a host of other categories of employment seekers to work legally in Canada.

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What is a Canadian Work Permit?

A Canadian work permit is a document which gives you the permission or legal rights to take a job in Canada if you are from a foreign country.

Every foreign national who desires to work legally in Canada must get a work permit with the exception of just a few categories of persons.

Before applying for a work permit, it is important to find out if the kind of job you are seeking requires a permit or not. Subsequently in this article, a list of the kind of jobs that require a work permit will be outlined and vice versa.

A work permits enables you to do the following;

  • Work under an employer you have mentioned in your application for a work permit
  • Earn a living in dollars.
  • Apply for a permanent residence permit in due course.
  • Travel across Canada while you still have your work permit.

A work permit is temporary and can only be used for as long as it is valid. Once it is expired, it cannot be used again.

Who Needs a Canadian Work Permit?

Typically, most individuals seeking to enter the Canadian labor market need a work permit to be able to work legally.

However, there are some exemptions depending on the kind of job you are seeking for. You may not require a work permit when applying for any of the categories of jobs listed below.

  • Athlete or coach
  • Clergy
  • Judge or referee.
  • Foreign representative and family members of foreign representatives
  • Military personnel
  • Students working on-campus or off-campus
  • Newscaster or news reporter
  • Film actor or crew member
  • Short term researchers
  • Examiners or evaluators
  • Public speakers
  • Health care students
  • Civil aviation inspector
  • Transportation crew
  • Emergency service provider
  • Foreign government office
  • Producers or staff working on advertisement shows
  • Performing artists
  • Expert witnesses or investigators
  • Aviation accident or incident investigator
  • Convention organizers
  • Business visitors

Types of Canadian Work Permit.

There are generally two types of Canadian work permits.

  1. Open Work Permit.
  2. Employer – Specific Work Permit.

Open Work Permit

An open work permit is one which allows you to work for any employer in canada. It is not job or employer specific.

This type of work permit enables you to work for any Canadian employer in almost any capacity without restrictions.

It differs from a regular work permit in the sense that, if you obtain this type of permit can basically work for any kind of employer except those who are;

  • Listed as ineligible in the list of employers due to failure in compliance to certain conditions or labor requirements.
  • Involved in services such as erotic dancing, erotic massages, escort services and striptease.

An open work permit does not require an individual to have a job offer from an employer beforehand nor does it require that you must have a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). More details on LMIA will be given in the latter part of this article

Employer – Specific Work Permit

The employer-specific work permit is one which enables you to work according to the conditions stated on it.

Basically, it pertains to only one employer. This simply means that this type of work permit only allows you to work for a specific employer.

This type of work permit comes with certain conditions including;

  • The type of work you can do
  • The name of the specific employer you can work for
  • Places or locations where you can work
  • The duration or how long you can work

Unlike the open work permit which requires neither an employment offer nor a positive Labor m
Market Impact assessment (LMIA), the employer-specific work permit on the other hand requires that you must already have a copy of your job contract and either a copy of a positive labor market impact assessment or an employment number.

How to Apply for a Canadian Work Permit

Generally, there are a number of processes involved in applying for and obtaining a work visa. In this article, these processes shall be discussed in four different steps which include;

  • Application for Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) by the canadian employer
  • Extension of temporary job offer to foreign workers by the canadian employer
  • Application for canadian work permit by foreign workers
  • Issuance of work permit to foreign workers.

1. Application for Labor Market Impact Assessment by Canadian Employer.

In majority of the cases, the first primary step to obtaining a Canadian work permit is by applying and qualifying for a Labor Market Impact Assessment.

This step is carried out by the employer in Canada. The Canadian employer applies for a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) via Employment and Social Development Canada (ESCA).

This exercise ensures that the Canadian employer makes maximum efforts to domestically recruit people and is able to demonstrate that no citizen or permanent resident of Canada is qualified to handle the task or position at hand.

Whether the LMIA is positive or negative determines if the Canadian employer will be able to employ foreign workers or not.

2. Extension of Job Worker to Foreign Worker by Canadian Employer

After applying for a LMIA, if the result is positive, the Canadian employer can extend a temporary employment or job offer to foreign workers who are qualified to handle the position available.

It is compulsory that the employer sends a copy of the positive LMIA along with the letter of a job contract to the foreign worker as this is important when applying for a work permit (in cases where you are applying for an Employer -specific work permit)

All Canadian companies and organizations are required by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to prepare a formal letter of the employment contract otherwise known as “Job Offer Letter” which contains the following details

  • The name and address of the employer
  • The title of job position
  • The description of job being offered
  • Details on date to start and date to end
  • Details about prospective salary for the job being offered.

The Canadian Service Agency ensures that the job offer is real and legit. The Canadian immigration department also goes further to confirm the job offer with an LMIA.

Once this is done, the CIC grants employment authorization which enables the company’s future employees to work in canada.

3. Application for a Work Permit by Foreign Workers

When you have recieved a copy of the Job Offer Letter along with a positive LMIA, you can then proceed to apply for a temporary work permit.

You can either from a Canadian visa office or Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

It is important to remember that if you are applying for an open work permit, you do not necessarily need to have a positive LMIA or a job offer first.

On the other hand, if you are applying for an Employer-Specific work permit, you must first obtain a job offer from a Canadian employer as well as a positive LMIA.

However, regardless of the type of visa you are applying for, there are eligibility requirements you must meet before you can be granted a work permit.

General Eligibility Requirements For a Canadian Work Permit

There are some specific requirements you have to meet to qualify for a work permit depending on where you apply from and the kind of work permit you are applying from.

Notwithstanding this fact, there are general requirements you must have to meet up with to obtain a work permit. These requirements must be met regardless of the kind of work permit you are applying for or where you apply from.

These requirements are as follows;

  • You must be able to prove to the visa officer that you intend to move out of Canada after your work permit expires.
  • You must provide evidence that you have enough funds to support yourself and your family during your stay in Canada and to return back to your home country.
  • You must show proof that you obey the law, have no records of criminal activity. You may be asked to provide a police clearance certificate as confirmation.
  • You must prove that you are not a danger or threat to Canada’s security.
  • You must be in good health and may be required to take a medical examination if necessary.
  • You must be able to prove that you have no plans to work for any employer listed as ineligible because they have not been able to comply with certain conditions.
  • You must be able to prove that you do not have any plans to work for any employer who are involved in services such as erotic dancing, erotic masages, escort services and stripteasing.
  • You must be able to provide any document demanded by officers to qualify you to enter canada.

Eligibility Requirements if You Apply From Outside Canada

If you are applying for a work permit from outside of Canada, in addition to the general eligibility requirements, you will also have to meet other requirements including;

  • Prove that you are willing to adhere to the working conditions stated in your work permit.
  • Meet other eligibility conditions such as language skills, biometric data and insurance proving that you can enter Canada.

Eligibility Requirements If You Apply From Inside Canada

If you are already in canada and you intend to apply from there, you must fulfill the following conditions;

  • You must have a valid study permit
  • Your parents, spouse or common law partner must have a valid study or work permit
  • You have a valid temporary residence permit for at least six months
  • You have studied and graduated from a Canadian university
  • You have made an application for permanent residency in Canada and is waiting for a response or decision
  • You have made a claim or intend to make a claim for refugee protection
  • You have been identified by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada as a refugee or protected person
  • You are a trader, investor, under- intra company transfer or professional under NAFTA or CUMSA.

It is important to note that, if you are applying for a job in the Providence of Quebec you will have to obtain another document known as certificat d’acceptation du Quebec (CAQ) to be able to work temporarily in Quebec.

In most cases, when you apply for a work permit, you will be required to attend an interview with a visa officer.

If the visa officer is convinced that the foreign worker’s employment will not negatively affect employment in Canada for Canadians and that the foreign worker is qualified enough to handle the position offered, then the work permit will be issued.

Documents You Need To Apply For a Canadian Work Permit

When applying for a Canadian work permit, you will need the following documents;

  • A valid passport. Its validity must be at least six months from the time of arrival to canada
  • Application fee or proof of payment of application fees
  • Two recent passport-sized photographs
  • A copy of your letter of employment (if applicable)
  • A copy of Labor Market Impact Assessment (if applicable)
  • Copy of educational qualifications/credentials/certificates
  • Copy of CV or resume (if applicable)
  • Certificat d’acceptation Du Québec (CAQ) (if applicable)
  • Proof of financial resources that can cover your expenses during your stay in Canada
  • Medical examination results (if applicable)
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Proof of status for family members (if required)

You must note that you must be able to convince the visa officers that you will return to your home country when your work permit expires.

4. Issuance Of Work Permit To Foreign Workers

At the port of entry to Canada (usually an airport), a Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) officer will issue a temporary work permit to you.

Depending on your home country, you may also need to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa to be able to enter Canada.

How Much Does It Cost To Apply For A Canadian Work Permit?

The amount for applying for an Open work permit is $255 CAD per person while the application fee is $155 CAD for an Employer-Specific work permit.

How Long Does It Take To Process a Canadian Work Permit

The amount of time required to process a Canadian work permit differs according to your resident country at the time of application and also the kind of work permit you are applying for.

The average time for processing a Canadian work permit ranges from a few weeks to several months.

How Long Does a Work Permit Last?

All Canadian work permits are temporary and hence, have expiry dates

The Canadian government puts a limit on how long non-Canadian citizens or permanent residents can work in Canada.

Whether you work in parts or consecutively, the accumulated time an individual can work in Canada is 48 months (4 years).

After this period of four years, foreign workers will have to leave Canada and stay outside the country for a period of four years before being eligible to apply again to work in Canada.

The only way to work in Canada for an unlimited amount of time or permanently is to apply for permanent residency.

How Can I Extend The Duration Of My Work Permit?

If you intend to extend your work permit, you will have to apply online.

Generally, anyone who is eligible to extend their work permit typically has until the last day of the expiry of their current work permit to apply for an extension request

However, it is advisable to apply for an extension at least 30 days before the expiry date.

It Possible For My Canadian Work Permit Application To Be Refused Or Rejected?

Yes. your application for a Canadian work permit can be refused due to some reasons. Some of the very common reasons why a work permit can be refused are as follows;

  • If you do not meet the eligibility criteria required for the Work permit you have applied for.
  • Inability to prove that you are capable of handling the prospective job.
  • Inability to prove that you intend to leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay or when your work permit expires.

It is very important to have all required document and information you need in the process of applying for a Canadian work permit intact before even beginning the process at all. This reduces the possiblity of a refusal to almost zero.

What If I Have a Spouse and Children?

If you have a job offer from a Canadian employer and also have an Open work permit, you may be entitled to have your spouse and children with you.

The Canadian government allows for the immigration of spouses and children under the Dependent Work permit category.

Your spouse may be eligible to apply for an Open work permit to enable them to work for any employer in Canada.

Also, if your children are of schooling ages, they will be able to attend any Canadian educational Institution during the period of your stay in Canada.


Conclusively, you must understand that the benefits of working in Canada can not be overemphasized.

One of the most prominent benefits is that labor laws in Canada ensure that workplaces are safe for employees. All employers follow certain laws and regulations to ensure the wellbeing of their employees.

Secondly, there are laws that ensure that foreign workers are offered the same wages as their Canadian colleagues .

Thirdly,Canadian work permits allow foreign workers to bring their spouses and children with them.

Finally, gaining work experience in Canada is a great step to anyone who has intentions of applying for permanent residency in Canada.

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