Work in Canada (Canadian Work Permit Explained 2024)


A foreign national who wants work in Canada would need to have work permit in Canada. There are various pathways to obtain a work permit and start working in Canada. Canada offers around 500,000 work permits every year to foreign nationals who come and work in Canada.

Who is eligible to work in Canada?

Foreign nationals who want to work in Canada will be required to have a work permit. Obtaining a work permit involves securing a Canadian job offer backed by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). However, there are some type of work permits that do not require to have LMIA, or a job offer, you can learn more about each program and its requirements below.

Understanding LMIA required and LMIA exempt work permits

The primary difference between LMIA-required and LMIA-exempt work permits in Canada is whether the employer is required to obtain LMIA or not from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) which shows that LMIA won’t negatively affect to Canadian labour market.

If not required that LMIA is called an LMIA-exempt work permit.

LMIA-Required Work PermitsEmployers must undergo the LMIA process to assess the impact on the Canadian labor market.Examples include Employer-Specific Work Permits.
LMIA-Exempt Work PermitsExempt from the LMIA process under specific conditions outlined in Canadian immigration regulations.Examples include Post-graduation work permit and Intra-Company Transferee Work Permits.

Types of Work Permits in Canada?

1. Open Work Permit

Open work permit allows individuals to work for any Canadian employer in the Candian labor market. You are not tied to one employer or job category.

2. Employer-Specific Work Permit

Tied to a specific employer and job. It would require you to have a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in order to apply for work permit.

3. Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) for international students who have completed eligible programs at Canadian Designated Learning Institutes (DLIs). The work permit allows you to work for any employer for a period of 1 to 3 years depending on the duration of the study program.

4. International Mobility Program (IMP) Work Permit

International Mobility Program (IMP) exempts certain workers from the LMIA requirement based on international agreements or other factors.

5. Intra-Company Transferee Work Permit

Intra-Company Transferee Work Permit facilitates the transfer of employees within multinational companies to work in Canada who have their office in Canada as well.

6. Spousal Open Work Permit

Allows the spouse or common-law partner of a foreign worker or student to come and work in Canada, their work permit will be valid until their spouse’s work permit is valid for.

7. Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)

Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) allows foreign agricultural workers to come to Canada temporarily to fill seasonal labor shortages.

8. Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) involves the hiring of foreign workers to address specific labor shortages when Canadian citizen or PR are not able to fulfill that position.

How to obtain a Canadian work permit?

The process of obtaining a Canadian work permit depends on what type of work permit you are applying for and the applicant’s requirements of the applicant. If you applying for the type of work permit that requires an LMIA, generally the process of obtaining an LMIA and ultimately the work permit is longer than just obtaining an LMIA. If work permit falls under LMIA Exempt work permit then it would be much easier to obtain that work permit than the LMIA required work permit.

To obtain work permit, you must follow the process below:

Step 1: Job Offer

The first step is to obtain a Canadian job offer from a Canadian employer.

Step 2: Check LMIA Requirement

Determine if an LMIA is needed for your specific work permit. If your work permit falls under LMIA exmpt work permits then you won’t need to have LMIA.

Step 3: Application Form

Complete the online application form on the IRCC website for work permit application.

Step 4: Gather Documents

Collect necessary documents, including job offer, LMIA (if needed), and proof of identity.

Step 5: Language Proficiency

Demonstrate language skills if required. Depending on the work permit category and program you would need to score minimum language requirement.

Step 6: Health and Security Checks

Undergo medical exams and provide police certificates if necessary.

Step 7: Submit Application

Submit the application with supporting documents and pay the fees.

Step 8: Biometrics

Provide biometrics, if applicable. If you applying for candian visa for the first time you would need to give biometrics.

Step 9: Wait for Decision

Wait for processing and receive a decision.

What documents are required to apply for a Canadian work permit?

Documents may vary depending on the type of work permit you are applying for but in most cases you would need:

  • Job offer letter: A letter from your prospective employer in Canada detailing the job offer, including job responsibilities, salary, and other relevant details.
  • Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA): In some cases, you may need an LMIA, which is a document from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) indicating that the hiring of a foreign worker will not negatively impact the Canadian labor market.
  • Valid passport: Ensure your passport is valid for the duration of your intended stay in Canada.
  • Completed application forms: You will need to fill out the appropriate application forms for your specific type of work permit.
  • Proof of qualifications: Educational and professional certificates or diplomas to demonstrate that you have the required qualifications for the job.
  • Proof of identity: This can include a copy of your birth certificate or national identity card.
  • Passport-sized photos: Provide the required number of recent passport-sized photos as per the specifications outlined by the immigration authorities.
  • Travel itinerary: Details of your travel plans, including flight information and accommodation arrangements.
  • Proof of financial support: Evidence that you have enough funds to support yourself and any accompanying family members during your stay in Canada.
  • Medical examination: Depending on the nature and duration of your work, you may need to undergo a medical examination and provide the necessary documentation.

What’s the processing time for the work permit?

The processing time of a work permit varies on what type of work permit you are applying for and from which country you are applying from. Inside Canada work permit application takes around 2-4 months, and outside Canada may vary on country and type of work permit. Check out the processing times here.

What are the fees for a Work Permit?

The fee for processing a closed work permit is $155 CAD per individual, while an open work permit costs $255 per person. If you are renewing a work permit or submitting a group application for some event or performance then extra charges may apply.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can my family be included in my work permit application?

While most work permits allow you to add family members to the application it may vary depending on the type of work permit and the country you are applying from. You can check the eligibility of your family member depending on profile.

Eligibility to include family members on your work permit application varies by country. Review the specific regulations and requirements of the country you’re applying to, as some permits allow family inclusion while others may not. Check the official immigration website or consult with a professional for the latest information.

How long will it take to process my LMIA application?

The process of LMIA depends on the type of job, labor market requirements, employer efforts and much more. The processing time of LMIA applications is outlined on the ESDC website, you can check the most recent processing time. The average processing time for LMIA application is around 4 – 6 weeks.

How can I extend my work permit?

While it’s not as simple as it seems when it comes to extending your work permit, extending a work permit depends on what type of work permit you are extending. Below are the various ways you can extend your work permit.

  • Extension of Employer-Specific Work Permit: Extend if continuing with the same employer. You must obtain job offer from your current employer and hold the current employment and apply for work permit extension.
  • Extension with New Employer: Change employers? You may extend but may need a new job offer and possibly LMIA.
  • Open Work Permit Extension: Extend open work permit, meeting eligibility criteria for the specific category.
  • Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Nominee Extension: Extend if nominated through PNP, linked to work permit. If you have applied for PNP and your file is processing you can get an extension up to 18 months.
  • Briding Open Work Permit: You can extend your work permit if you have PR application already filled in and your previous work permit is expiring, you can apply for a bridge work permit that extends your stay up to 18 months.

Can I work without work permit?

You must need a valid work permit to work in Canada. There are limited exemptions and some occupations that do not require you to have a work permit.

Can I apply for Canadian health insurance while on a work permit?

Yes, individuals with a valid work permit in Canada can apply for provincial health insurance in the province or territory where they reside.

How long are Canadian work permits valid?

The duration of Canadian work permits varies. They can be issued for specific periods, ranging from a few months to several years, depending on factors such as the job offer, type of work permit, and individual circumstances.

What is the difference between a Canadian work permit and visa?

A Canadian work permit allows you to work in Canada, specifying the conditions and duration. A visa, often a temporary resident visa (TRV), grants entry into Canada but does not authorize employment.


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