Work in Canada means three things – to enter a Canadian labour market, perform a competitive activity, and receive remuneration for work.
Canadian economic and social development policy prescribes that a foreign national can work in Canada if Canadian citizens or permanent residents are not qualified and available to do the job.
The Canadian government has developed a process known as a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), that allows it to control the Canadian labour market and verify whether a need in a foreign worker is genuine.
However, certain exemptions from this process exist. There are immigration programs that allow foreign nationals to apply for a work permit directly (LMIA-exempt) or waive the requirement for a work permit.
We provide an overview of the main types of Canadian work permits.
Most of the time, foreign nationals can apply for a Canadian work permit if a Canadian employer offers a job. In that case, a company needs a confirmation letter that allows hiring a foreign worker (unless it is not required for the job). A confirmation letter is also called a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
The Canadian body responsible for the assessment and issuance of a confirmation letter is the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). After the assessment, ESDC issues a confirmation letter if no Canadian worker (citizen or permanent resident) is available to do the job offered to a foreign worker. Once an employer gets a positive LMIA, a foreign worker can apply for a Canadian work permit that is employer-specific.
This category includes an open work permit, in which case neither a job offer nor a confirmation letter is required, and an employer-specific work permit for which a job offer is required but no LMIA is needed. Still, the requirements of an immigration program must be met.
Some examples of eligible under this category programs are international students, spouses of skilled workers, refugees, permanent residents applicants whose applications have been approved in principal, professionals, traders, investors under free trade agreements, etc.
Learn more about an LMIA-Exempt Work Permit.
A work permit is not required for specified list jobs. For instance, business visitors up to six (6) months, clergy, students working off-campus or on-campus in Canada.
Learn more about situations when Work Permit is not required to work in Canada.