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Work Permits 

LMIA-Required Permit

A work permit is a written authorization to work in Canada issued by an officer to a foreign national under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility program to address labour shortages and to fulfil a wider economic need. As a general rule, foreign nationals are required to apply for work permits from outside Canada, with a few excepted class of persons.


Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issues two types of work permits: Employer-Specific Work Permits and Open Work Permits. As the name suggests, employer-specific work permits allow a person to work according to the conditions on their permits such as the name of the employer and the length and location of the employment. Open work permits, on the other hand, are more flexible as they allow a temporary foreign worker to work for any employer in Canada, except where an employer is deemed ineligible or regularly offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services, or erotic massages. Below are some of the common types of work permits issued: 

• LMIA-Required Work Permits.
Bridging Open Work Permits.
• Post-Graduation Work Permits.
• Work Permits under Permanent Resident Pilots.
• Work Permit under the Spouse and Common-Law Partner In-Canada Class.

• Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) Work Permits.

• Intra-Company Transferee Work Permits. 
• International Experience Class.

LMIA-Required Work Permits

Generally, foreign nationals who want to work in Canada must first go through a two-step process. In most cases, their employer must first apply to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) for a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) which essentially determines that there are no permanent residents or Canadian citizens available to fill the job position and that the employer may consequently hire a temporary foreign worker. The LMIA process involves the requirement to advertise the position for a specific period and to conduct regular recruitment practices. Once a positive decision has been received, the document should be used to apply for a work permit. To learn more about LMIAs, click here.


Bridging Open Work Permits

Foreign nationals may apply for a bridging open work permit—usually issued for a period of one year—to continue working in Canada whilst their permanent resident application is in process; this does not extend to applicants who reside in Quebec. This permit allows them to bridge the gap between the expiry of their current work permit and the receipt of a final decision on their permanent resident application. To be eligible, applicants must be residing in Canada (except Quebec) and have submitted a permanent resident application under the Express Entry program, Home Childcare Provider Pilot, or Home Support Worker Pilot program, Caring for children class, Caring for people with high medical needs class, Provincial Nominee Program, or the Agri-Food Pilot. Spouses and dependents of bridging open work permit holders may be eligible for open work permits if they meet certain conditions stipulated by the Act and the bridging open work permit must be valid for a period of more than 6 months.


Post-Graduation Work Permits

The postgraduate work permit program allows international students who studied full-time at an eligible Designated Learning Institution (DLI) to obtain an open work permit after graduation. As such, they are given the opportunity to gain Canadian work experience which in turn can assist in applying for permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Class under the Express Entry program. The permit is usually issued for a minimum period of 8 months up to a maximum period of 3 years; this determination is based on the duration of the applicant’s studies as well as their passport’s validity.


An application must be submitted within 180 days upon receipt of a formal confirmation from the institution that studies have been completed or after receiving the final grades, whichever comes first. Of note, applicants must ensure that they have a valid study permit, visitor record, or implied status at the time of submitting the application. Spouses and common-law partners of postgraduate work permit holders may also be eligible for an open work permit. Additionally, post-graduate work permits are only issued to an individual once in their lifetime.


Work Permits Under Permanent Resident Pilot Programs

Some permanent resident pilot programs facilitate the issuance of temporary work permits while an application for permanent residence under an economic pilot program is being processed. In most cases, employers are first required to provide the applicant with an offer of employment in support of the permanent resident application as well as to pay the employer compliance fee of $230. The employer will receive an employer number which the temporary foreign worker must use to apply for the work permit. This offer can be used to support a permanent resident application under the Express Entry program to gain additional points and in turn, increasing one’s chance receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Please refer to the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, The Northern and Rural Pilot Program and the Home Child-Care Provider Pilot or Home Support Worker Pilot program for more information.



Open Work Permit under the Spouse and Common-Law Partner In Canada (SCLP) Class

A spouse being sponsored under the Spouse and Common-Law Partner In Canada Class (SCLP) may also apply for an open work permit. They must be residing at the same address with their spouse, have valid temporary resident status, and a sponsorship application must be submitted on their behalf. The work permit application may be filed simultaneously with the sponsorship application or after. While there is a temporary public policy in place which permits out-of-status spouses to apply for permanent residence under this class, they are not permitted to apply for an open work permit unless their application has been approved in principle. 

Please visit Family Sponsorship and see our blog on 'Sponsoring a Spouse or Common-Law Partner to Canada' for more information. 


Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Work Permits

Canada has entered into international Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with various countries which facilitate, on a reciprocal basis, the temporary entry of business persons, investors and professionals of those countries. Generally, these individuals require a work permit but are exempt from applying for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).


Canada has trade agreements with various countries including: Peru, Columbia, Korea, Chile, Panama, Mexico, United States.

Intra-Company Transferee Work Permits

Certain high-skilled employees of multi-national companies may be eligible to apply for a work permit without the need to first secure a positive Labour Market impact Assessment (LMIA).  However, they must seek entry to Canada to work at a parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate company of the one with which they are currently employed and intend work in an executive or senior managerial capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.


The duration of a work permit differs based on the position. For executive and senior managerial positions, the maximum duration is 5 years, while 7 years for specialized knowledge workers. Those who wish to reapply for a work permit as an inter-company transferee after they have reached the maximum duration, must first complete one year of full-time employment in the company outside Canada.

International Experience Class

International Experience Canada (IEC) is a seasonal program which provides youth—starting at age 18 — with the opportunity to travel and work in Canada. To participate in the program, the candidate’s country or territory of citizenship must have an agreement with Canada that allows participation in the program. They may use recognized youth service organizations that offer work and travel support to youths. A list of the participating countries may be found hereApplicants must meet the eligibility requirement for their country as some have limits on how often a candidate can participate, as well as the availability of pools.  Most importantly, the applicant must meet the eligibility requirements of each program:


Working Holiday Visa

This pool is suitable for those candidates who do not have a job offer, wants to work for more than one employer in more than one location, and would like to earn money to facilitate their travels. The candidate will receive an open work permit, provided the application receives approval.


Young Professionals

There may be young professionals who wish to gain work experience in Canada to assist with professional development to become competitive in the global market. This pool was designed specifically for that purpose. The candidates must secure a job offer for paid employment that will contribute to their professional development, and be prepared to work for a single employer at one location. The job position must be in either NOCs 0, A or B. Despite this general rule, the candidate my secure a NOC C position, but must submit a post-secondary diploma, certificate, or degree, with their work permit application.


International Co-op (Internship)

Candidates may apply under this pool if they want to take part in a work placement or internship program directly related to their studies. The candidate must be a student registered at a post-secondary institution, has a job offer for a work placement or internship in Canada, intends to work for one employer, and whose program requires the completion of the internship. The internship must be directly linked to the candidate’s field of study. The labour code of the province or territory in which the candidate wishes to complete the internship will determine whether the placement is paid or unpaid. 

The Process

The candidate's eligibility for the available pools must first be determined. Once completed, the applicant must enter the pool of candidates by submitting a profile and wait to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for a work permit. If received, it must be accepted within 10 days and the application for a work permit must be submitted within the prescribed timeline; failure to respond by the deadline  will result in the expiration of the invitation requiring the applicant to repeat the entire process. Overall, when assessing a work permit, an officer must be satisfied that the applicant will leave Canada upon the expiration of their stay; they are admissible to Canada, and  that they can provide the relevant documents required for the specific program.

Permits under Pilots
Free Trade Permits

Need Help? We are here to ensure you choose the right type of work permit based on your specific circumstances as well as to increase your chances of getting an approval. Should you require assistance to apply or for further information, you may reach out to us using our contact form

COVID-19 UPDATE: The Government of Canada  has implemented travel restrictions which prohibit some persons from entering Canada, and may require additional documents for those who are exempted from same. As such, please click here to find out if you are eligible for travel to Canada. 

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