How to Get a Canada Work Visa with a High School Diploma

Canada is one of the top destinations to move to in 2021. According to HSBC’s global Expat Explorer report, Canada was rated the third-best country in the world to live in, in 2021 among expats, and also second for being one of the most welcoming countries globally.

74 percent of immigrants are reported to increase their income in their new country abroad, and Canada is no exception. With an average salary of about $54,630, depending on the industry you work in, your skillset as well as the province you live in.

Although many people who have moved abroad to work in Canada have some form of post-secondary education or qualification, it is not a must. In fact, Canada’s immigration system has various visa options for those who have a secondary qualification of high school diploma!

Want to work in Canada but don’t have a degree? Find out how to get a Canada work visa with just a high school diploma!

How to Apply for a Canada Work Visa?

How to Get a Canada Work Visa with a High School Diploma infographic

Step 1: Check your eligibility

Before starting the Canada work visa application process, it’s a good idea to find out which visa program you qualify for. This will help to determine which Canada work visa you should apply for.

Step 2: Choose your work visa - open or employer-specific

Choosing the right visa type is very important. Canada has two main work permits: the open work permit and the employer-specific work permit.

The open work permit allows you to work anywhere in Canada for any employerand is usually required for programs under the International Experience Canada (IEC) or the International Mobility Program.

An employer-specific work visa is required if you have a job offer from a Canadian employer. There are various programs and streams that require this Canada work permit, especially those under the Temporary Foreign Work Permit Program.

Step 3: Follow your country-specific instruction guide

The application process for your work permit not only depends on the visa program or which visa you need but also where you are applying. Although most countries’ requirements don’t differ too much, there may be some additional documents required either by your local immigration department or the Canadian government.

Be sure to check the requirements carefully to make sure that you have everything that you need. Any missing documents may result in prolonged application processing times or worse, your visa being denied.

Step 4: Gather supporting documents

The next step is to make sure that you have all the supporting documents outlined in your instruction guide. Some documents may take longer than others to receive. A medical exam can take up to three months to get, so make sure that you apply for documents like medical and police clearance documents first before those that take quicker to process.

Step 5: Create an account & complete your application online

Now that you have everything that you need to complete your application, you can start the process. You can create an online profile on the government website or if you’ve chosen to use a representative like an immigration lawyer or Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) they will create the account and submit your application for you.

Step 6: Pay fees & submit your application

Once you've completed your application you’ll have to pay the government application fees before you can submit it. You’ll need a scanner or camera as well as a valid credit or debit card to make the payment.

Are There Canada Immigration Visas & Programs I Can Apply For With a High School Diploma?

Asian woman working laptop | How to Get a Canada Work Visa

Yes. There are various options eg. Federal Skilled Trade Program (FSTP), Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), Agri-food Pilot (AFP), among others. It’s best that you check which programs don’t need a university or college qualification as well as which program you qualify for. Below are our top 3 choices for Canadian immigration and visa programs that don’t need a degree.

1. Express Entry: Federal Skilled Trade Program

Believe it or not but Canada’s ever-popular immigration system has options for those who don’t have a post-secondary qualification! The Federal Skilled Trade Program or FSTP may be the best option for you if you:

  • have at least 2 years of full-time work experience within the past 5 years
  • meet the job requirements based on your NOC code
  • meet the required language levels for your trade; and
  • either have a valid job offer in Canada for at least 1 year or have a Canadian certificate of qualification in your trade.

Eligible trades include those in the industrial, electrical, and construction sectors, maintenance and equipment operation trades, technical jobs in natural resources, agricultural production, processing, manufacturing and utility sectors as well as those in the culinary sectors such as chefs, cooks, bakers, and butchers.

2. Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)

Saskatchewan is known to have the most in-demand jobs in Canada among all 13 provinces and territories. In fact, there are so many that the government decided that it would be easier to list ineligible jobs instead of those most needed to boost the local economy. The following SINP programs don’t need a post-secondary qualification to be considered eligible:

  • Saskatchewan Experience Category: Semi-skilled Agriculture Worker
  • Saskatchewan Experience Category: Hospitality Sector (food and beverage server, food counter attendant, kitchen helpers, housekeepers, cleaning staff)
  • Saskatchewan Experience Category: Long Haul Truck Drivers

3. Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

If you prefer the simple life; small-town charm and community-oriented way of life that moves at a slower pace than urban hubs like Toronto or Vancouver, then you may want to consider one of the 11 participating communities under the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP). All you will need is to make sure that you:

  • have a valid non-seasonal job in one of the participating RNIP communities
  • have at least 1 year of work experience in the past 3 years
  • have a high school diploma equivalent to Canadian standards
  • meet the required language levels based on your NOC code; and
  • Enough money to support yourself and your family

How hard is it to get a work visa in Canada

If you know how to navigate your way around the Canada immigration system, applying for a work permit is relatively easy. The problem, however, that most applicants face is making sure that they’re on the right track from the very beginning of the application process. It all starts with choosing the right visa program.

Thereafter, making sure that you meet the requirements, complete the application form accurately as per the instruction guide as well as adhere to application deadlines can determine whether or not your application is successful or not.

How long does it take to get a work visa in Canada

This varies from case to case. In general, the application process takes about eight weeks to process but can take anywhere between 1 and 27 weeks depending on where you are applying from and whether your application is complete.

What’s Next?

happy multicultural employee celebrating | How to Get a Canada Work Visa

Now that you have the know-how, you can start the exciting process of applying for your Canada work visa. Canada’s immigration system can be confusing, especially if you've never applied for a visa before. All you have to do is make sure that you select the right program and visa and have all the necessary documents when it comes time to start the application process to avoid delays in the application processing times.

Although you can absolutely apply on your own, whether online or offline, it can be beneficial to enlist the services of professionals who not only have years of experience but have personally also gone through the immigration process themselves.

Ready to elevate your career to the next level?