Canada: Free Answers to the Top-20 Work Permit FAQs

Here are the Top-20 questions most frequently asked about working in Canada, with clear, straightforward, and free answers for you.

1. What are the benefits of working in Canada?

You will be working in a safe, non-discriminatory society that has good quality of living, excellent education and health care systems, and where the law protects you. Canadian laws and are in place to ensure that your employer will pay you at least the median wage that a Canadian would make in the same occupation and City or Town, and that you will enjoy safe working standards.

If you are eligible, depending on the program that you applied under to work in Canada, your spouse may qualify to receive an Open Work Permit, and your children may receive study permits.

After you have been in the country and gained some Canadian work experience, you may be eligible to apply for Permanent Residence in Canada.

Map of Canada

2. What is a Canadian Work Permit?

It is a document that allows you to legally Work in Canada. A Work Permit is different from a Visa.

3. Who needs a work permit to work in Canada?

In general, anyone that is not a Canadian Citizen, or a Canadian Permanent Resident, needs a valid Work Permit to work in Canada. A valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) and Work Permit give the person status as a Temporary Foreign Worker in Canada.

There are a few cases in which foreign workers can do some jobs in Canada (with limits and restrictions) without a Work Permit.

Canada Temporary Foreign Workers

4. How long does it take to process a Work Permit application?

Processing times will vary from a few weeks to a few months depending on the country in which you apply, and on the type of Work Permit that you applied for.

5. How long can a Work Permit be?

A Work Permit will be issued and valid for a variable period of time. This time depends on a number of factors, including how long is your passport valid for at the time you first enter Canada to work (when your Work Permit is issued), and under which program you applied to come to Canada to work.

If, for example, an Employer hired you after obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment or LMIA (see below) that is valid for 2 years, you can get a 2-Year Work Permit; however, if your passport expires 1 year after arriving in Canada to work, your Work Permit will be issued for 1 year only. This is why it is a good idea to renew your passport before you submit your application for a Temporary Resident Visa to come to Canada to work.

6. Can a Work Permit be extended?

Yes, Work Permits can be extended, although some have a maximum duration.

7. What are the types of Canadian Work Permits?

In general, there are 3 types: those that require an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment); those that are exempt from an LMIA but require a job offer; and Open Work Permits. Each of these has several sub-types, as shown in the table below:

REQUIRE AN LMIA LMIA-EXEMPT, BUT REQUIRE A JOB OFFER OPEN WORK PERMITS (NO LMIA OR JOB OFFER REQUIRED)
Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program International Mobility Program (IMP) Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)
LMIA Work Permits LMIA-exempt Work Permits Spousal Sponsorship inside Canada
Facilitated LMIA Work Permits (Quebec only) CUSMA (formerly NAFTA) Work Permits Spouse accompanying International Student
Global Talent Stream CETA Work Permits International Experience Canada (IEC)
Francophone Program
Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP)
Intra-Company Transfers

8. How can I get a Canadian Work Permit?

It depends on the type of Work Permit you are applying for.

In most cases, Work Permits are “closed” or Employer-specific. This means that the Temporary Foreign Worker is only authorized to work for the Employer he/she received the job offer from, and only to do a certain job at a certain location. In that case, most commonly the Employer previously obtained authorization from the Government of Canada (a positive LMIA or Labour Market Impact Assessment) approving that business to hire Temporary Foreign Worker(s).

There are also “open” Work Permits. For example, the spouse of a Temporary Foreign Worker that has an Employer-Specific (or “closed”) Work Permit may receive an Open Work Permit; Post-Secondary International Students who receive a Study Permit may also be authorized to work part-time while they study in Canada.

To get started, become a Clearport Member.

Once you are a Member, you will be able to add your information, upload your Resume, evaluate and score your English levels, and create a complete Profile that we can share with Canadian employers.  Employers will see your Profile in English, with details of your Work Experience and Qualifications, your Education, and your English scores, which gives them an objective measure of your English proficiency to see if your level of English matches what is needed on the job. With your Membership, you get SRT, our English Assessment and Improvement Tool.  It gives you detailed Scores that evidence your English level, plus a free Learning Plan with lessons and activities to improve the areas where you have gaps. SRT gives you great value for your money! You will be able to use SRT anytime, anywhere, even from your own country, using a PC, Laptop or Notebook (not available for Tablets or Smartphones). Once you complete SRT, you can add your Scores to your Profile in our data base. With your Membership, you will also be able to apply for open jobs on our website as they are posted, and we will contact you when a job becomes available matching your qualifications.

Click on the image to become a Clearport Worker Member. 

Click on the image to become a Clearport Member

9. What do I need to work in Canada?

Although it varies depending on the program that you applied to, common documents you will need to include:

  • A legitimate job offer or employment contract extended to you by a Canadian employer.
  • Prove that you have experience and/or knowledge to perform the job.
  • Prove that you are included in a positive LMIA issued to your Employer.
  • A Passport (ideally, valid for longer than you expect your Work Permit to be issued for).
  • A Canadian Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) stamped on your Passport (unless you come from a Visa-exempt country).
  • A Work Permit Letter issued from a Visa Officer at the Canadian Embassy or Consulate where you applied for your TRV.
  • A Work Permit, which is only issued at the Port of Entry (the first airport or border crossing that you arrive to in Canada).

Document Checklist

10. How can I find a job in Canada?

Employers will want to see a Resume in English that details your Work Experience and qualifications, as well as your Education. In most cases, they will also want to see some objective measure of your English proficiency, to see if your level of English matches what is needed on the job. Having a good Resume and an English exam (or French, in some cases) will help you be more attractive to Canadian Employers.

Clearport offers you SRT, which gives you good evidence about your English level and a free Learning Plan to improve it even from your country of origin, so that you can add your English scores with your Resume into our data base. You will also be able to apply for open jobs on our website as they are posted.  When a job opening becomes available that matches your qualifications, we will contact you to discuss it and -if you agree- to ask the Employer to give you a job interview.

11. Who Issues Work Permits?

Work Permits are issued by Officers belonging to a department of the Federal Government of Canada called Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), at the Officer’s discretion.

12. How do I apply for a Work Permit?

It varies depending on the type of Work Permit you apply for.

If you are unsure, you can book an Immigration Consultation with one of our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants.

Click here to book an Immigration Consultation to Canada

Please beware of advice from “immigration consultants” that are not regulated or in good standing. Only a Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant in good standing with the ICCRC can offer consultancy services for applications to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (IRCC).

ICCRC-RCIC Insigia

Verify Status with ICCRC: link to ICCRC site

Rui Jiang, RCIC # R530523

Dongkai Li, RCIC # R522600

Our Team of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) will review your qualifications for the most applicable Immigration Program and Pathway, including those in the Hong Kong Special Program. Then, they will work with you to define a strategy and plan to achieve your goals.

13. Where and when are Work Permits issued?

Work Permits are only issued when you arrive at the Port of Entry or POE (the Airport or Border Crossing where you first enter into Canada). When you arrive at the POE, you present your travel and other documents to an IRCC Officer, who then decides to issue or not a Work Permit.

Canada Port of Entry POE

14. Can I apply for a Work Permit if I have a Job Offer?

Not always. Remember that a job offer needs to be supported by a positive LMIA, or be exempt from requiring an LMIA. Aside of this, the job offer must itself be legitimate, and come from a legitimate Employer.

15. What is an LMIA or Labour Market Impact Assessment?

In brief, a positive LMIA is an authorization that the Government of Canada gives an Employer to hire Temporary Foreign Workers, after the Employer has demonstrated that there is a shortage of Canadians or Permanent Residents to do that job, and that hiring Temporary Foreign Workers will not have a negative impact on the Canadian job market. A reminder: there are some Work Permits that are LMIA-exempt.

16. How long does it take for an Employer to get an LMIA?

LMIAs take one or more months to prepare and, once submitted, can take a variable amount of time being processed, depending on many factors that vary over time.

17. What are the chances of approval of Work Permits and LMIAs?

All applications are individually processed and approved or not by individual Officers at their discretion, so it is impossible to tell. However, if applicants meet the Work Permit or LMIA application requirements, applications should be approved.

18. I have a Work Permit in Canada; can I work for any employer?

Yes, if you have an Open Work permit.

However, if your Work Permit is Employer-specific (“closed”), you can only work in Canada for the Employer that gave you the job offer that you used to apply and under which your Work Permit was issued. If you are laid off or terminated but have a job offer from another employer that has a valid LMIA with an open space for you, you could change your Work Permit to work for that employer.

19. Are a Work Permit and a Visa and the same thing?

No, a Work Permit (or a Study Permit) is not a Visa.

If you are traveling to work in Canada, in most cases you will need to have obtained first a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to travel to and to enter Canada.

A Visa is a travel document that allows you to travel to Canada and legally enter the country. Canadian Visas are a document stamped on the traveler’s passport.

Passport

To get a Canadian Visa, you must submit an application to a Canadian Embassy or Consulate in your country of origin or the country where you reside in; if there is none, your application must be submitted to an Embassy or Consulate designated by the Government of Canada to process Visa Applications for the country you are applying from.

Travelers from most countries will need a valid Visa or eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) to enter Canada.

20. What is a Temporary Resident Visa or TRV?

A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) is travel document that allows you to travel to Canada for purposes other than tourism. If you are coming to Canada to work or to study, you will need a TRV unless you are a citizen of one of the few Visa-exempt countries (who, in most cases, need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization or eTA to enter Canada).



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