Work in Canada: Canadian Work Permit & Visa Process- 2023/2024

A work permit is a vital legal document that allows foreign nationals to engage in employment while in Canada. Annually, Canada issues approximately half a million work permits to temporary foreign workers from various parts of the globe.For many foreign nationals, Canada is a highly sought-after destination due to its abundant employment opportunities and high quality of life. In fact, working in Canada serves as an excellent initial step for individuals aspiring to make Canada their permanent home eventually.

This pathway allows individuals to gain valuable work experience, integrate into Canadian society, and contribute to the country’s diverse and dynamic workforce. It also provides a platform to showcase one’s skills and potentially qualify for long-term immigration programs, solidifying Canada’s reputation as an inclusive and welcoming nation. Hence, we will discuss the step-by-step approach to Canada’s work permit application.

Who is eligible to work in Canada?

Securing a work permit is a crucial step for most foreign nationals seeking employment in Canada, although there are some exceptions to this rule.

Typically, to apply for a work permit, candidates need a Canadian job offer that is backed by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). However, there are situations where foreign workers can apply for a work permit without an LMIA or a job offer. For instance, recent graduates from Canadian Designated Learning Institutes (DLIs) and spouses of individuals already holding Canadian work or study permits may fall into this category.

In addition to these considerations, candidates seeking a work permit must also meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Demonstrate their intent to leave Canada once their work authorization expires.
  2. Provide evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves and their family in Canada, as well as to cover the costs of their return home.
  3. Not have any criminal or medical inadmissibility issues in Canada.
  4. Plan to work with an employer who meets the eligibility criteria.
  5. Be able to furnish any requested documents that demonstrate their eligibility to enter and work in Canada.

These requirements ensure that foreign workers contribute positively to Canada’s workforce while maintaining the integrity of immigration processes.

Types of Canadian Work Permits

Absolutely, there are various avenues to obtain a Canadian work permit, each with its own set of requirements. These options cater to a diverse range of circumstances and qualifications. Here are the key categories to consider when determining the best-suited work permit for your situation:

  1. Job Offer from a Canadian Employer:
    • This is a common route where a Canadian employer extends a formal job offer. It typically requires a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to ensure that hiring a foreign worker won’t negatively impact the Canadian job market.
  2. Intra-Company Transfers:
    • If you’re currently employed by a multinational company with a presence in Canada, you may be eligible for an intra-company transfer. This allows you to work in Canada temporarily.
  3. International Experience Canada (IEC):
    • This program provides opportunities for young adults from participating countries to work in Canada on a temporary basis. It includes categories such as Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op.
  4. Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP):
    • Recent graduates from eligible Canadian Designated Learning Institutes (DLIs) may apply for a work permit to gain valuable work experience related to their field of study.
  5. Spousal Sponsorship:
    • If you are the spouse of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you may be eligible for an open work permit, which allows you to work for any Canadian employer.
  6. Provincial Nominee Program (PNP):
    • Some provinces in Canada have specific immigration streams that allow individuals to obtain a work permit if they meet certain criteria. This may require a job offer from an employer in that province.
  7. Refugee Claimants:
    • Individuals seeking asylum in Canada may be eligible for a work permit while their refugee claim is being processed.
  8. Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds:
    • In exceptional circumstances, individuals in Canada who are facing hardship may be granted a work permit on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

How to obtain a Canadian work permit

Securing a work permit in Canada involves a process that greatly varies depending on the specific type of permit being pursued. For instance, international students pursuing their studies in Canada often find themselves automatically granted permission for part-time employment, seamlessly integrated into their study permit provisions.

In the case of closed work permit applications, a critical requirement is a formal job offer from a Canadian employer supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). It’s worth noting that even those who are exempt from LMIA requirements or from needing a work permit should ensure they possess the necessary, unique documentation to guarantee a smooth entry into Canada. Broadly speaking, there exist two primary pathways to obtaining a Canadian work permit: the closed (restricted) work permit and the open work permit.

Closed work permits are intrinsically linked to specific employers, which implies that a foreign national granted such a permit must maintain employment with the same employer at the same location unless a modification to their work permit is initiated. This signifies a substantial commitment to a particular employer and work setting.

If I have a Canadian job offer, am I eligible to apply for a work permit?

Simply possessing a Canadian job offer doesn’t automatically render one eligible to apply for a work permit. The offer itself must align with specific criteria to be deemed valid for certain work permit applications. Generally, for a work permit to be considered, the applicant’s job offer must meet one of the following conditions:

  1. It must be backed by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
  2. It must be exempt from the requirement of an LMIA.

It’s crucial to bear in mind that the province of Quebec has its own distinct process for evaluating the legitimacy of an offer of employment. This signifies that applicants looking to work in Quebec may need to navigate a separate set of criteria and procedures.

What am I allowed to do on a Canadian work permit?

Your physical work permit provides a detailed outline of the specific constraints associated with your authorization. These restrictions primarily hinge on the type of work permit for which you qualify. They may encompass the nature of employment you can undertake, the location and employer you are permitted to work for, as well as the duration of your employment in Canada. It’s imperative to note that all work permit holders are expressly prohibited from engaging in employment where there are grounds to suspect a risk of sexual exploitation of certain workers.

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It’s important to recognize that work permit holders do not hold permanent residency status in Canada and are required to depart the country upon the expiration of their authorized stay. However, if you are actively employed in Canada and aspire to establish permanent residency, we encourage you to complete our complimentary assessment form. This will facilitate a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration prospects and guide you toward the appropriate steps for your future in Canada.

Can my family be included in my work permit application?

When seeking an employer-supported work permit, there’s potential for your spouse and dependent children to join you in Canada. If your children are of school age and already in Canada, they can attend Canadian educational institutions without the need for a separate study permit.

Additionally, your spouse or partner may be qualified to apply for an open work permit, affording them the opportunity to work for any employer in Canada. This provision facilitates a comprehensive family experience while you pursue your employment opportunity in the country.

How much does a Canadian work permit cost?

For a closed work permit, the processing fee stands at $155 CAD per person, while an open work permit carries a fee of $255 per person. It’s important to note that if you’re in the process of restoring a work permit or applying as part of a group of performing artists, there will be additional fees to consider. These fees cover the administrative costs associated with processing the respective work permit applications.

How do I apply for a work permit?

The application process varies depending on the type of work permit required. The initial step involves identifying the most suitable work permit for your situation. This can be done on the Canada Visa portal.

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

The documents necessary for a work permit application in Canada vary depending on the type of permit being sought. Applicants may be required to submit the following documents as part of their application:

  1. Completed application forms
  2. Proof of current status in Canada (if applicable)
  3. Proof of family members’ status (if applicable)
  4. Labour Market Impact Assessment (if applicable)
  5. Official written offer of employment (if applicable)
  6. Curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé
  7. Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  8. Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) (if applicable)
  9. Evidence demonstrating that you meet the job requirements
  10. Valid copy of your passport
  11. Copy of educational credentials
  12. Results of any required medical examinations
  13. Documentation confirming your financial ability to support yourself in Canada and return to your home country
  14. Proof of payment for any relevant government fees
  15. Recent passport-sized photographs.

It’s crucial to ensure that all necessary documents are accurately completed and submitted as part of the work permit application process. This comprehensive documentation ensures that your application is properly assessed and processed by the Canadian authorities.

Biometrics for Canadian Work Permits

As of the present, IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) has implemented a temporary measure that waives the requirement for applicants applying for a work permit from within Canada to provide biometrics.

However, candidates applying from outside of Canada are still mandated to provide their biometrics upon receipt of a biometrics instruction letter. This measure aims to facilitate and streamline the application process for individuals seeking a work permit from within Canada.

Follow the government of Canada’s instructions for how to give your biometrics on their dedicated page.

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Police clearances for Canadian work permits

The reviewing visa officer may request applicants to furnish police clearance certificates, which may be included in the initial submission checklist depending on the applicant’s location. For work permit applicants, it is essential to provide a police clearance certificate from any country in which they have resided for six months or longer after turning 18 years of age.

This documentation is a crucial component of the application process, ensuring that individuals seeking a work permit meet the necessary legal requirements for entry into Canada.

The medical exam for a Canadian work permit

Foreign nationals applying to work in Canada may be required to undergo a medical examination, depending on factors such as their intended duration of stay, places of prior residence, and the nature of the intended occupation.

For those planning to work in Canada for less than six months, a medical examination is typically not necessary, although there are exceptions. If the job involves close contact with people or if the applicant is an agricultural worker with a history of travel to certain countries, a medical exam will be required.

However, if the intended stay in Canada is longer than six months, a medical exam is mandatory under the following conditions:

  1. The applicant has resided in or traveled to one of the countries listed on Canada’s ‘Find out if you need a medical exam’ page for six months or more.
  2. The applicant intends to work in an occupation where close contact with people is anticipated, as specified in the aforementioned hyperlink.

It’s imperative that the medical exam is conducted by a panel physician authorized by IRCC. You can locate a panel physician near you through IRCC’s ‘Find a Panel Physician’ webpage.

Applicants also have the option to undergo an upfront medical exam. This involves directly contacting the panel physician and completing the exam prior to submitting a work permit application. Suppose the medical exam results are not provided with the initial application. In that case, the IRCC officer will furnish instructions on how to proceed with the exam, along with a deadline for completion.

How can I check the status of my work permit application?

If you’ve submitted an online work permit application, you can conveniently monitor its status through your online account. For those who submitted a paper-based application, you can still check its status by linking it to an online IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) account.

This provides an accessible and efficient way to stay updated on the progress of your work permit application, regardless of the submission method you used.

Reasons a work permit application is refused

Experiencing a work permit refusal can be a disheartening experience. There are various reasons why a work permit may be declined. If the grounds for refusal are unclear, obtaining GCMS (Global Case Management System) notes can provide valuable insight and potentially assist in addressing the concerns raised by the officer if you decide to reapply. Here are some common reasons for a work permit refusal:

  1. The officer may not have been convinced of your ability to perform the intended work adequately.
  2. The officer may not have been convinced of your intention to return to your home country upon the expiry of your authorized stay in Canada.
  3. You may not meet the specific criteria for the type of work permit you applied for.

Understanding these potential reasons for refusal can help in preparing a more robust application in the event of reapplication, ensuring a higher chance of success.

Do I need my Canadian work permit to enter Canada?

When traveling outside of Canada, it’s essential to have both your work permit and a valid travel document to re-enter the country. While a work permit grants you the authorization to work in Canada, it doesn’t by itself authorize entry into the country.

To enter Canada, you must have either a temporary resident visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), along with a valid passport. These documents collectively ensure that you meet the necessary requirements for entry and employment in Canada.


Here is a comprehensive guide about the Canadian Work Permit and visa process for you. For more information and opportunities on travel and scholarship, click here. 

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