Canadian Work Permits

Secure your place in Canada's diverse and thriving workforce with a Canadian work permit.

Book a 30 min consultation and have an immigration lawyer advise you on your options based on your individual circumstances.

To work legally in Canada, the majority of foreign nationals require a work permit. These permits are offered in various categories based on factors such as the individual’s employment, province of residence, education, and country of citizenship. Work permits are broadly categorized as either employer-specific or open work permits.

Common Work Permit Scenarios

Previously known as NAFTA Work Permit, this type of permit is available for American and Mexican citizens who wish to enter to work in Canada. 

Learn More

Free Trade Agreements may grant temporary entry for nationals of certain countries (for example UK, EU, Chile, Columbia, etc.) such as business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, traders and investors. 

Learn More

Intra-Company Transferee work permits apply to employees who are temporarily transferred from international companies in certain countries to work in Canada.

Learn More

Canadian Work Permit Types

This type of work permit limits your work conditions in Canada to a specified employment. You are usually allowed to work for one specific employer in a pre-defined position.

This type of work permit generally does not have additional conditions imposed on it, which means that you can work for any employer in Canada except for those employers who have failed to comply with the conditions or employers who offer striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages.

Work Permit Primary Benefits

  • You can live and work in Canada.
  • You can accumulate work experience in Canada to qualify for permanent residence in Canada.
  • You may bring your spouse and children to Canada.
  • You and your family may be eligible for the provincial health care plan and enjoy public health care benefits.
  • Your children may be eligible for domestic tuition in public educational institutions.

Work Permit Basic Requirements

Employer Specific Work Permit Requirements

To qualify for an employer-specific work permit, you must obtain a copy of the employment contract and one of the following:

  • A Labour Market Impact Assessment (See below: LMIA) if required, OR
  • If you are LMIA-exempt, your employer needs to use the employer portal to apply for an offer of employment number.

Many LMIA-exempt work permits are based on your employers, country of citizenship, professional background, etc. We listed the following primary types of LMIA-exempt work permits:

  • International agreements, arrangements or non-trade agreements, such as CUSMA, GATS, etc, which can include professionals, traders and investors.
  • Agreement between Canada and a province or territory, such as Significant Investment projects, Atlantic Immigration Program, etc.
  • Canadian interests, such as Significant Benefit work permit, Intra-Company Transferee (ICT) for executive, senior, or functional manager, ICT for specialized knowledge, ICT for employees starting a branch or affiliate, self-employed, workers under Mobilité francophone, etc.
  • Reciprocal employment, such as coaches and athletes, exchange academics, etc.
  • Designated by the Minister, such as academic researchers, visiting professors, guest lectures, medical residents and fellows etc.
  • Charitable or religious work (not including volunteer work), such as religious worker or leader.

Open Work Permit Requirements

To qualify for an open work permit, you must meet specific criteria: 

  • You may be eligible for an open work permit if you are an international student who graduated from a designated learning institution and are eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program
  • You may be eligible for an open work permit if you are a student who can no longer meet the costs of your studies (destitute student).
  • You have an employer-specific work permit and are being abused or at risk of being abused in relation to your job in Canada.
  • You have applied for permanent residence in Canada and may be eligible for a bridge open work permit. 
  • You are a dependent family member of someone who applied for permanent residence.
  • You are the spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or international student. You may be eligible for a spouse open work permit if the skilled worker or international student meets certain requirements. 
  • You are the spouse or common-law partner of an applicant of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program.
  • You are a refugee, refugee claimant, protected person or their family member.
  • You are under an unenforceable removal order.
  • You are a temporary resident permit holder. 
  • You are a young worker participating in special programs, such as working holidays.

Work Permit Application Process

The majority of work permit applications can be submitted online. When submitting an online application, we complete the application forms and compile all supporting documents based on your provided information. 

After a positive decision is rendered:

  • If you have applied inside Canada, you will receive your work permit by mail.
  • If you have applied outside Canada and are from a visa-exempt country, an electronic travel authorization (eTA) will be issued along with the confirmation letter. You will then receive your work permit at the Canadian port of entry when you travel to Canada.
  • If you have applied from outside Canada and are from a visa-required country, you will receive an original passport request letter to affix the visa to your passport, you will then be able to travel to Canada to receive your work permit at the Canadian port of entry. 

Nationals of certain countries may be able to apply for a work permit directly at a Canadian port of entry. Your lawyer will compile the necessary documents and provide the final package to bring with you. An officer will examine your package at the port of entry. If a positive decision is rendered, you will receive your work permit then and there.

Work Permit Processing Times

Processing times differ depending on the country you apply from and the method of application. Online work permit applications may take up to 6 months to process, while port-of-entry applications are usually obtained immediately.

Work Permit Processing Fees

For up-to-date fees, please visit the Government of Canada’s Fee List.

Andrea Prunariu

If you have questions about the Canadian Work Permit process or are ready to start your application, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can provide you with the guidance and support you need to complete the process successfully.

Questions? Answers.

Got questions? We have answers.

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document employers need to apply for with the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to show the need to hire a temporary foreign worker because no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available for this position. Once a positive LMIA is received by the employer, they can provide you with a copy of the LMIA confirmation letter and the LMIA number. For certain types of LMIAs, you can apply for an LMIA-based work permit from the IRCC along with your employment contract, job offer and other supporting documents.

There are mainly 6 types of LMIAs: 

  1. High and low-wage LMIA: these are processed to help apply for a work permit. Employers need to apply for the high-wage stream if the wage offered to the temporary foreign worker is above the provincial median wage; if the proposed wage is lower than the provincial median wage, then the employer should follow instructions for the low-wage stream. 
  2. LMIA for primary agriculture positions: these are for employers who hire foreign temporary workers only in occupations and activities related to primary agriculture including seasonal agricultural worker program, agricultural stream, high-wage positions stream and low-wage positions stream. 
  3. Global Talent Stream: as part of the Temporary Foreign Worker program, this type of LMIA is intended for Canadian firms to access unique and specialized highly-skilled foreign talents or to fill an in-demand highly-skilled position on the Global Talent Occupation List. Employers applying through this stream must develop Labour Market Benefits Plans and undergo annual Progress Reviews of the aforesaid plans. 
  4. LMIA applications to support Permanent Residency: these are for employers who wish to hire highly-skilled foreign workers and support their permanent residence applications. Employers applying through this stream need to make a job offer under Express Entry that meets the criteria for one of the three Express Entry programs (CEC, FSW or FST). 
  5. LMIA for academic positions: these are for degree-granting postsecondary educational institutions in Canada to employ foreign academics to meet their teaching and staffing needs while attracting new expertise and knowledge. 
  6. LMIA for caregiver positions: these are for employers who wish to hire foreign caregivers in a private residence to provide care for children under 18 years of age or for people with high medical needs, such as seniors over 65 years of age, people with disabilities, chronic or terminal illness. 

In most cases, yes. If you are a foreign national and you want to work in Canada, you will need to apply for a work permit. There are some exceptions, such as for people who are exempt from the requirement to obtain a work permit (e.g. business visitors, students working on campus).

To apply for a work permit, you will need to complete an application form and provide supporting documents, such as proof of your job offer, proof of your qualifications, and evidence of your ability to support yourself while in Canada. You will also need to pay a processing fee.

The processing time for a work permit application can vary depending on the location where you apply and the volume of applications being processed. It is generally recommended to apply for a work permit as early as possible to allow enough time for the application to be processed.

It is possible to bring your family with you to Canada while you work. Your spouse or common-law partner and dependent children may be eligible to apply for an open work permit or a study permit, depending on their circumstances.

Yes, it is possible to apply for permanent residence while you are working in Canada. There are several programs through which you may be able to apply for permanent residence, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Provincial Nominee Program.

Yes, if you are a student studying in Canada on a valid study permit, you may be eligible to work in Canada while you study. There are some restrictions on the type of work you can do and the number of hours you can work, but you may be able to work on or off campus.