6 Simple Steps to Apply for a Canadian Work Permit

Do you have your heart set on working in Canada? If so, then chances are you’ll need to apply for a Canadian work permit. Canada has various programs and streams that allow foreign workers to migrate to Canada and work in certain occupations for a short period of time under. 

This extensive guide to Canada’s work visa will highlight what your options are to work in Canada, whether or not you need a work permit, what the requirements are, the steps you need to take to apply for a work permit as well as answer any questions you may have.

There are currently thousands of jobs in Canada for immigrants. Whether you’re skilled or unskilled, if you’re qualified, have the experience, and meet the general requirements of your chosen visa program, the opportunities are endless.

Another great draw for temporary workers is that your spouse or partner may be eligible to apply for an open work permit and work alongside you in Canada and if your children will be able to attend school without you having to apply for an additional study permit which means that you’ll be able to live and work in Canada and potentially apply for permanent residence should you acquire sufficient Canadian work experience. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's take a look at everything you need to know about how to apply for a Canadian work permit, from start to finish.

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1. What is the Temporary Foreign Work Permit Program?

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The Temporary Foreign Work Permit Program (TFWP) is run by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as well as Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). It was created to help Canadian employers hire talented foreign workers in in-demand jobs in Canada and fill the labour gap in certain sectors of the labour market.

It is designed to ensure that temporary foreigners’ rights are protected so that they can work in a safe and secure environment. A key component of the TFWP is the Labour Market Impact Assessment which, barring a few exceptions, is a requirement for all temporary foreign workers in Canada. 

What is the Labour Labour Market Impact Assessment? 

A Labour Market Impact Assessment or LMIA is a document showing that the job you're applying for in Canada could not be filled by a local applicant. The application process can be quite complex, but the good news is that you won’t have to apply for one. Your employer is responsible for getting an LMIA for you, however, it is good to be as knowledgeable about the process as possible as you will need a copy of your LMIA in order to apply for your work visa. As mentioned previously, there are certain occupations that do not require an LMIA. This is usually determined by the economic and cultural benefits as well as other advantageous factors that could be attained by hiring a temporary foreign worker in a specific position or sector. 

To find out whether or not your occupation requires an LMIA click the link above.

2. Temporary Foreign Work Permit Streams

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1. International Mobility Program

The International Mobility Program is for temporary foreign workers whose occupation does not require having an LMIA. Canada has various ties and trade agreements between certain countries such as The United States (North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA ), Chile (Canada- Chile FTA), Peru (Canada-Peru FTA), Columbia (Canada-Columbia FTA), Korea (Canada-Korea FTA) and those in the EU (Canada-European Union Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA) as well as in certain occupations stated in the General Agreement on Trade (GAT) which are divided into 2 main groups. 

International Mobility Program General Trade Agreement Occupations
Group 1
  • Engineers
  • Agrologists
  • Architects
  • Forestry professionals
  • Geomatics Professionals
  • Land surveyors
Group 2
  • Foreign legal consultants
  • Urban Planners
  • Senior Computer specialists

It is important to note that applicants applying under the GAT must be a citizen of a member nation, which is listed here on the World Trade Organisation website, and will only be able to work in Canada with a TFWP for a maximum of three months or 90 consecutive days within a twelve-month period. 

2. High Wage Worker

This stream is for Canadian employers who want to hire a temporary foreign worker that will earn the equivalent or above the median hourly wage of the province or territory they will be working in Canada.

3. Low Wage Worker

This stream is for Canadian employers who want to hire a temporary foreign worker that will earn below the median hourly wage of the province or territory they'll be working in Canada.   

4. Foreign Agricultural Workers

Canadian employers who want to hire agricultural workers on a temporary basis can hire employees through the Agricultural Stream or the Seasonal Agricultural Stream (SAWP).

Agricultural workers will need to be working on a farm that produces a commodity listed below:

  • apiary products;
  • fruits, vegetables (including canning/processing of these products if grown on the farm)
  • mushrooms
  • flowers
  • nursery-grown trees including Christmas trees, greenhouses/nurseries
  • pedigreed canola seed
  • sod
  • tobacco
  • bovine
  • dairy
  • duck
  • horse
  • mink
  • poultry
  • sheep
  • swine

Seasonal agricultural workers are allowed to work in Canada for up to 8 months and will be able to apply through the SAWP you will need to be a citizen of a participating country.

The following SAWP participating countries are listed below:

  • Mexico;
  • Anguilla;
  • Antigua and Barbuda;
  • Barbados;
  • Dominica;
  • Grenada;
  • Jamaica;
  • Montserrat;
  • St. Kitts-Nevis;
  • St. Lucia;
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and
  • Trinidad and Tobago.

5. Home Support Workers

After closing the Live-in Caregiver Program in June 2019, IRCC launched 2 brand new caregiver programs: The Home Childcare Provider Pilot and The Home Support Worker Program. These programs allow skilled caregivers to live and work in Canada temporarily until they have at least 24 months of Canadian work experience and can then apply for permanent residence. 

6. International Academics

All international students are able to work for a maximum of 20 hours every week during the semester and for longer during breaks, however, if you would like to work for longer you will need a temporary work permit. Specialized foreign researcher students may be exempt to enter Canada to do research for up to 120 consecutive days under special circumstances. Alternatively, researchers will need to apply for a temporary work permit. 

3. Types of Work Permits

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There are two different types of Canadian work permits:

  • The Open Work Permit; and
  • The Employer-Specific Work Permit.

Open Work Permit

An open work permit will allow you to work for any employer in any location in Canada as long as:

  • They have not been deemed ineligible due to not complying with certain conditions; or
  • The business does not regularly offer stripteases, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages.

Employer-Specific Work Permit

An employer-specific work permit will allow you to work in Canada in accordance with the conditions stated in your work permit, namely:

  • The name of your specific employer
  • The length for which you can live and work in Canada; and
  • The location where you can work.

Remember: Before you can apply for your employer-specific work visa you will need a copy of your LMIA or an offer of employment number so be sure to confirm that your employer has taken the necessary steps before you start the application process.

4. Am I Eligible?

Man typing on laptop | Apply for a Canadian Work Permit

Can you apply for a work permit? This is the tricky part because there are various types of open and closed work permits under the International Mobility Program and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Each work permit is designed for different purposes and for different types of foreign workers in specific circumstances. The type of work permit you may qualify for are influenced by factors such as:  

  • Your age;
  • The type of work you intend to do in Canada;
  • The country you reside in;
  • Your immigration status;
  • Whether you’re applying from inside or outside of Canada; and
  • Your skills and qualifications

The best way to find out if you’re eligible for a Canadian work permit is to complete an online eligibility assessment that not only tells you if you can work in Canada but also which work permit program you qualify for.

International Mobility Program (IMP)

Canadian work permits under the IMP can be open or closed. Obtaining a work permit under this program is both easier and faster since you don’t require a labour market impact assessment and permits are often processed within 2-weeks. Take a look at the most popular work permits streams under the IMP and their requirements to know if you are eligible to apply.

International Experience Canada (IEC)

The IEC is designed for young adults between the ages of 18-30/35 from 37 participating countries to work and travel in Canada. There are three different types of travel and work experiences under the IEC which includes the Working Holiday (open work permit), Young Professionals category, and the International Co-op (employer-specific work permits).

Post-Graduate Work Permit

International students may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit (open work permit) if they graduated from a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada and want to stay in the country temporarily to work. Their study program should be more than 8 months in length and they should have a valid study permit by the time they apply for the work permit.

Canada – United States – Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)

Traders, investors, intra-company transferees, and professionals from the United States and Mexico can obtain employer-specific work permits under the CUSMA agreement. 

Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

Canadian work permits under the TFWP are strictly closed. You need a job offer that is supported by a labour market impact assessment to obtain a work permit under one of the TFWP streams. The process of obtaining a work permit through the TFWP is longer with more steps involved due to the fact that it focuses more on the labour market needs of employers in Canada. The work permit streams under the TFWP are the following:

  • High Wage Worker Stream
  • Low Wage Worker Stream
  • Seasonal and Non-Seasonal Agricultural Worker Stream
  • Global Talent Stream

But regardless of where you apply or which type of work permit you apply for, you must:

  • prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your work permit expires;
  • show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada and to return home;
  • obey the law and have no record of criminal activity;
  • be in good health and have a medical exam, if needed;
  • not plan to work for an employer listed with the status “ineligible” on the list of employers who failed to comply with the conditions;
  • give the officer any other documents they ask for to prove you can enter the country;

5. Canadian Work Permit Exemptions

Man typing on laptop | Apply for a Canadian Work Permit

There are foreign workers in very specific occupations who may temporarily work in Canada without Canadian work permits. In these instances, foreign workers will either need to get temporary resident visas or electronic travel authorizations to come to Canada. Others only need to provide valid passports. 

Foreign Nationals Who Can Work in Canada Without a Work Permit

Athlete or Coach

Foreign athletes, coaches, or members of foreign teams competing in Canada. 

Aviation Accident or Incident Investigator

Accredited agents or advisers working on an aviation accident or incident investigation being done under the Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act.

Business Visitor

People who would like to invest or open a business in Canada are encouraged to come to Canada for an exploratory visit. Business visitors deal with business activities such as inspecting sites or meeting their partners and are not part of the Canadian labour market.

Civil Aviation Inspector

People in charge of checking the flight operations or cabin safety of commercial airlines during international flights.

Convention Organizer

People who organize and run international meetings or conventions such as the Canadian International Autoshow and Comic-Con Canada among many others. 

Crew Member

People working on foreign-owned and registered vehicles (truck, bus, shipping or airline) that are used mainly to transport cargo and passengers internationally and their job duties relate to operating vehicles or serving passengers.

Emergency Service Provider

People who help out in emergencies to preserve life or property. Emergencies include natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes, or industrial accidents that threaten the environment.

Examiner and Evaluator

Professor or academic experts who evaluate or supervises academic projects, research proposals or university theses. They may work for Canadian research groups or schools.

Expert Witness or Investigator

People who need to give evidence before a regulatory body, tribunal, or court of law.

Family Member of a Foreign Representative

Spouses and children of foreign representatives who are accredited by Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

Foreign Government Officer or Representative

Employees, diplomats, or official representatives of another government who are working under an exchange agreement that lets officials work in government departments in Canada.

Healthcare Student

Healthcare students participating in clinical clerkship and training for less than 4 months.

Judge, Referee, or Similar Official 

Officials at international amateur competitions who will judge or be officials for an artistic or cultural event, such as music and dance festivals, animal show, or agricultural contest.  

Military Personal

Members of an armed force of another country who have movement orders stating that they are entering Canada under the terms of the Visiting Forces Act.

News Reporter or Film and Media Crew

News reporters or members of a reporter’s crew as well as members of a film or media crew who will not enter the Canadian labour market. 

Producers or Staff Members

Those working on a foreign-financed commercial shoot for television magazines or other media. These workers include; film producers, actors, directors, technicians, and other essential personnel.  

Performing Artists

Foreign artists who will perform in Canada for a limited time. These include theatre groups, street performers, a traveling circus, rodeo contestants, guests of Canadian televisions, or radio shows among many others. 

Public Speaker

Public speakers, commercial speakers, or seminar leaders who are speaking at specific events that are no longer than five days. 

Religious Leader

Foreign religious leaders who are leading worship or providing spiritual counseling among other duties. Religious leaders may include missionaries, monks, pastoral animators, archbishops, and bishops.  

Short-Term Highly Skilled Worker

Highly skilled workers in jobs under NOC skill type O or A who will only work in Canada for up to 15 consecutive days once every six months or up to 30 consecutive days every year.

Short-Term Researcher

Researchers who will be working at a public degree-granting institution or affiliated research institution for 120 or fewer consecutive days.   

Students Working Off-Campus

Full-time international students can work off-campus without a work permit for up to 20 hours per week during academic sessions and full-time during scheduled breaks. 

6. Work Permit Document Requirements

Person filling out forms | Apply for a Canadian Work Permit

To work in Canada you must collect all the required documents for your chosen Canadian work permit program. As you know by now there are many different types of work permits in Canada ranging from employer-specific permits to postgraduate open work permits. For this reason, the documents you need will vary depending on the work permit program you qualify for and intent on applying for. If your spouse or common-law partner and children accompany you to Canada then you may need to provide additional documentation. 

Take a look below for a list of documents you need to complete your work permit application:

  • A valid travel document or passport;
  • Two photos of yourself and photos of accompanying family members;
  • Proof indicating you meet the requirements of the job being offered;
  • Proof of funds (IEC visa applicants);
  • Police clearance certificate (no older than 6-months); and/li>
  • Proof of relationships with all spouses, children, or common-law partners (marriage certificate, birth certificate).

If your work permit program requires an LMIA you will need the following documents:

  • A copy of the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) provided by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to your employer; and
  • A copy of your job offer from your prospective employer.

If your work permit program does not require an LMIA you will need the following documents:

  • An Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment [IMM5802 document] or the Offer of Employment ID number; and
  • A copy of your employment contract.

If you are applying for a post-graduation work permit you will need the following documents:

  • A final transcript; and
  • A letter from the institution and/or the formal notice of graduation.

If you are a Provincial Nominee you need to include your nomination letter from the province that nominated you.

Aside from collecting the above-mentioned documents for your Canadian work permit, you will also need to fill in and sign forms provided by the IRCC  such as the Application for Work Permit made Outside of Canada (IMM 1295) and the Family Information form (IMM 5707), among others. 

If you choose to apply with Canadian Visa, you will get your own handy profile-dashboard with access to all the forms which you can easily download and complete in your own time. We also provide you with a complete document checklist that explains more about each required document which you can upload to your profile as you collect them. 

As soon as you complete your profile, one of our certified representatives will review and submit your work permit application to the correct department on your behalf. You can track the progress of your application on your Canadian Visa profile. 

7. How to Apply for a Work Permit

6 Steps to Apply for a Canadian Work Permit Infographic | Canada Work Permit

Due to the global pandemic, applications for work permits have been shifted online as far as possible. In the years to come, this is a measure that will likely remain in place. You will, however, be required to give biometrics at a consulate or designated agency within your area unless you are already in Canada.

Different forms are required depending on where you will be working, what you will be doing, and where you are applying from. There are benefits to submitting your applications online; no courier fees, no mail delivery times, you can ensure your application is a hundred percent correct before submission, you can submit supporting documents quickly if they are required and you are able to check the status of your application regularly.

You will be applying either for a Canadian work permit that requires a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or one that is LMIA exempt. Work permits that are exempt from the LMIA requirement include applicants with a provincial nomination, intra-company transferees, people applying for open work permits such as spouses, students, and temporary residents.

The following documents will then be required when applying for your work permit:

  • Family Information Form
  • Original Passport, with at least 6 months validity remaining
  • LMIA provided by the employer or your offer of employment from an LMIA exempt company with evidence of the exemption (neither required when applying for an open work permit)
  • Police Clearance certificate to show you have not been convicted of a crime. It May not be older than 6 months. If you lived in a country for 6 months or longer within the past 10 years, you will require a police certificate from that country too.

Once your application has been submitted and reaches the stage where biometrics are required, you will be sent a notification that will tell you where and when you can provide these. There is a fee to process your application and a fee for biometrics, so be prepared for these. If you have traveled to Canada in the last 10 years and provided biometrics, you won’t be required to do so again. 

Submitting your application completed properly is very important, if there are any mistakes or missing details, it will be returned unprocessed. You may also need to go for an interview with an immigration officer in your country and provide a medical exam, but these aren’t typically required.

If you are successfully approved, you will be sent a letter that confirms you are allowed to work in Canada and the conditions of your permit. This letter is not your work permit. Your work permit will be issued to you when you arrive in Canada by customs officials. This document will then fully outline the type of work you can do, the employer you will be working for, where you will be working and how long you can legally work in Canada.

We look forward to seeing you in Canada, we know you will add valuable input to the economy.

8. Indemand Temporary Work in Canada

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Whether you want to gain valuable international working experience or get a foot in the door to apply for permanent residency, there are numerous temporary jobs you can secure in Canada. And as long as you can continue to secure ongoing in-demand temporary work while you are in Canada, you can continue to renew your work permit. Once you have some experience, you can apply for any number of programs that will grant you permanent residency in Canada, but enough about that, let’s consider some of the most popular in-demand temporary jobs you may find when searching the job boards, as well as their average salaries. 

In-Demand Temporary Work in Canada
Caregiver - $36,000General Labourer - $31,900Administrative Assistant - 44,990
Housekeeper - 31,200Ranch Hand - $41,600Cook - $34,000
Nail Technician - $29,120Ski Instructor - $55,330Night Auditor/Front Desk Agent - $21,705
Massage Therapist - $45,760Farm Labourer - $31,200Contact Centre Agent - $33,131
Cashier - $27,800Nursery Worker - $28,000Sales Associate - $31,200
Food and Beverage Server - $25,545Bartender - $28,297Security Guard - $31,204
Retail Salesperson - $27,300Delivery Worker - $42,900Material Handlers - $33,150

9. Asked & Answered: Facts About the TFWP

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1. What are the most common temporary jobs in Canada for Foreigners?

Lower paying jobs are much easier to get as a foreigner. That doesn’t mean you won't still earn a good salary, around $30,000 per annum. 

2. How long does it take to get a Canadian work permit?

If all your documents and your application are in order, you can be eligible for priority processing and have a Canadian work permit in as little as two weeks.

3. Where can I get a work permit?

Work permits are applied for online. You will require either a valid job offer, a qualification from a Canadian post-secondary school, or evidence that your spouse/family member is working in Canada and you are a dependent.

4. How long is a Canada work visa valid for?

It depends on your job offer and/or the work visa type, but typically 24 months. 

5. Can my family come to Canada on my work visa?

Yes. All dependents including common-law partners, children, and parents may accompany you to Canada as long as you meet the financial requirements. 

Your Journey to Canada Starts Here

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Applying for a Canadian work permit can be time-consuming and difficult to wrap your head around. With strict deadlines, procedures, and requirements, it can be easy to make a mistake that could cost you your chance to immigrate to Canada. But with the guidance and assistance of one of our knowledgeable Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC’s). the process will be stress-free.  

When you choose to use our expert and government trusted service you will get:

  • An in-depth eligibility assessment
  • Guidance on which of 100+ immigration programs and visas to choose from;
  • Access to our Visa Profile builder to submit documents and track your application status;
  • An immigration plan tailored to your individual needs;
  • A review and submission of all application forms and documentation; as well as
  • Support through every step of the application process.

All you have to do is fill out our application form to receive your eligibility assessment and let us take care of the rest. It’s just that simple! Your Canadian journey starts here.

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