Temporary Foreign Worker
We often get asked – Do I need a work permit to work in Canada? The answer is not always a Yes. In this post, we will explore who does – and who does not – require a work permit, and also discuss different types of work permits that you can apply for.
Work Permit Exemptions
If your work falls under any of the jobs below, and you will not be entering the Canadian Labour Market, then you do not need a work permit.
- Athlete or coach
- Aviation accident or incident investigator
- Business visitor
- Civil aviation inspector
- ClergyConvention organizer
- Crew member
- Emergency service provider
- Examiner and evaluator
- Expert witness or investigator
- Family member of foreign representative
- Foreign government officer or representative
- Health care student
- Judge, referee or similar official
- Military personnel
- News reporter or film and media crew
- Producer or staff member working on advertisements
- Performing artist
- Public speaker
- Short-term highly-skilled worker
- Short-term researcher
- Student working off-campus
- Student working on-campus
There are several other factors that you must meet in order to qualify for a work permit exemption. If you would like to make sure you are interpreting the rules correctly, please book a consultation with our licensed Immigration Consultant.
Types of Work Permits
If an individual does not fall within any of the exemptions described above, he or she must obtain a work permit before working in Canada.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) Confirmation Letter Work Permit
This is the most common type of work permit. It requires a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
This work permit is issued only on the basis of an ESDC labor market impact assessment (LMIA) granted to the Canadian employer that confirms there is no Canadian available to do the job.
As well, ESDC will ensure that the wages and working conditions being offered to a foreign national are equivalent to what a Canadian would be paid for the same work.
Remember, the employer (not the worker) applies for ESDC confirmation. The employer must advertise the position in the Canada Job Bank and typically in one trade magazine for a certain period of time depending on the job.
We can assist the employer in getting a positive LMIA to meet their skills requirements.
Open Work Permit
An open work permit allows an individual to work at any employer he or she chooses (although such a permit is often restricted to certain industries). An open work permit does not require an ESDC LMIA (discussed above).
An open work permit may be issued to the spouse or common-law partner who accompanies a foreign student or worker to Canada (who are themselves admitted under a study or work permit) for a time period equal to that study or work permit.
A student post completion of their studies in an approved institution can apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit (which is also an open work permit)
NAFTA Intra-Company Transferees
The North American Free Trade Agreement allows certain U.S. or Mexico intra-company employees to work in Canada without the requirement for an HRSDC confirmation. There are several requirements for this category of work permit, including:
- the person must have been employed abroad continuously for 1 year prior to the time of application at the managerial level
- the person must be seeking entry into Canada to continue employment with the same employer, subsidiary or parent company at the management level
- “managerial” means that a person must be responsible for directing the organization or a unit of the organization, and must have the power to hire and fire, or at least recommend such actions
The North American Free Trade Agreement allows certain U.S. or Mexico traders to work in Canada without the requirement for an HRSDC confirmation. This category applies to senior managers of U.S. or Mexico companies who intend to carry on substantial trade with Canada.
There are a number of specific requirements, including percent ownership and volume of trade minimums.
The North American Free Trade Agreement allows certain U.S. or Mexico investors to work in Canada without the requirement for an HRSDC confirmation.
This category applies to individuals who are investing in a company in Canada which is a U.S. or Mexican company operating in Canada. There are a number of specific requirements, including percent control and the nature of the investment.
Factors considered by Visa Officer before approving a Work Permit
Genuine temporary resident
The Visa office must be satisfied that the foreign worker is a genuine temporary resident and intends to return to his or her country of origin once the work permit expires.
The Visa office will look for property, family ties, bank accounts, investments or other evidence that show the foreign worker has links to his or her home country.
It should be noted that the Visa office recognizes a dual-intent to work in Canada temporarily and to apply for permanent residency.
We can assist in making an application such that a dual intent does not necessarily result in a negative decision.
When Work Permit is Issued
Once ESDC confirmation is granted (if not exempt), and the foreign worker qualifies for a permit, it is usually issued within approximately one month (processing times vary).
Work permits are generally issued for periods between one and three years, depending on the occupation, length of employment contract and other factors.
The Visa office may also issue an open work permit for an accompanying spouse (if it was applied for) or even accompanying children if they are over 18 years of age (but less than 22 years of age).
A work permit also allows school-aged children to attend public school and allows the applicant’s family to access public health care, although some provinces have a 3 month waiting period before applying for health care coverage. Private insurance should be purchased for this interim period.