How to Qualify to Work in Canada

There are specific requirements everyone needs to meet to qualify to work in Canada and to ultimately, gain permanent residency. This is the goal that most people have when applying for jobs in Canada.

To secure a job in Canada, you must have a work permit and a visa to enter Canada, also known as a temporary resident visa. These two documents are separate with individual application processes, both of which must be fulfilled to be deemed eligible.

While getting the green light to pack up your life to move to and work in Canada may seem out of reach, now more than ever, it is possible.

Since it is one of the best countries to start a new life and boost your career, the competition to secure a job is higher than average. Although it is crucial to understand how to qualify to do so successfully, let's first take a look at the three simple steps you need to take to get a Canadian visa to work in Canada in 2021.

3 Steps to Apply for a Canadian Work Visa

Step 1: Choose the work permit best suited for you

There are two work permits you can apply for, either an open work permit or employer-specific work permit, it is up to you to decide which one is best for you.

1. Open Work Permit - A work permit that is not job-specific. It allows you to work for any Canadian companies.

Popular programs under the open work permit include the International Experience Class (IEC, otherwise known as a working tourist visa) or the International Mobility Program. You do not need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to qualify for a Canada work visa.

What is a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document that is given by the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), to assess the type of effects that hiring international workers may have in Canada. The aim of the LMIA is to ensure that all Canadians receive the highest possible quality of life by promoting a highly-skilled workforce to improve Canada’s labour market.

2. Employer-Specific Work Permit - A work permit that allows you to only work for a specific company or employer in Canada, for a specific duration of employment, and in a particular location.

There are numerous work visa streams categorized under the employer-specific work permit. The one best for the applicant depends on the job offer received. An LMIA is required for this work permit.

Remember, if you choose an open work permit, you can work for a variety of Canadian companies, whereas if you choose an employer-specific work permit, you can only work for a specified company in Canada for a specific duration and at one location.

When you choose your work permit, be sure to check your name, the duration of the permit, and your employer’s location, all of which must be included.

If you are an international or postgraduate student, you can apply for a Canadian Post Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWP). By applying for this program, you can gain work experience on an open work permit, which can improve your chances of gaining permanent residency.

Step 2: Find out if you qualify for a work visa

Woman sitting and typing on a laptop while smiling (1)

For something as comprehensive as Canadian immigration, there is always a list of requirements that you must meet to qualify.

How to Qualify

To qualify for a Canada work permit, you need to receive a job offer from a Canadian employer.

If you are applying for an employer-specific work permit, then you must ask your Canadian employer for an LMIA. Once approved, you can submit a copy of it with your work permit application. If you are applying for an open work permit, there is no need to.

If you need an LMIA, once you have it, you can proceed with submitting your work permit application.

All applications must be submitted online through the Government of Canada website.

When you apply for a work permit, you can also qualify to get permits for your spouse and dependent children (above 22-years old), if they are accompanying you to Canada. However, this also depends on the job position level offered to you. The higher your position is, the more likely it is that your spouse and children will qualify for an open work permit.

Who else can apply for a work permit?

  • A dependent family member that has already applied for permanent residency.
  • A spouse or common-law partner of an Atlantic Immigration Pilot program or international student applicant.
  • International students that are willing to work 20 hours a week.
  • Recent graduates from Hong Kong.

Are you eligible to move to and work in Canada?

Eligibility Requirements

Apart from the work permit you choose, other specific requirements that must be met when you apply for a work permit includes:

  • Providing proof to an officer that you will leave Canada when your permit expires
  • Showing that you have enough funds to care for you and your family members during your stay in Canada and when you return home
  • Provide proof of a clean criminal record
  • Be in good health and submit a clean medical exam
  • Do not work for an employer that is marked ineligible on the list of employers that fail to comply with work conditions in Canada
  • Do not pose a danger to Canada’s security
  • Give the officer other documents that they ask for, such as a passport or travel document, to prove that you may enter the country.

Step 3: Submit your Canada work visa application

When you choose your work permit and understand the requirements, as well as meet them, you can complete and submit your visa application online.

By submitting your visa application online, you will be able to avoid having to pay additional fees, such as courier fees, and reduce the application processing time, which can take anywhere from 2 to 33 weeks.

Please Note: With the help of an immigration consultant, such as our affiliated Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs), you can check your eligibility and speed up your application processing time.

An RCIC can also inform you on how to improve your application to become eligible for Canadian immigration before you apply.

Work Permit Exemptions

Foreign nationals that want to enter Canada, but perform certain activities, may be exempt from requiring a Canada work permit, including:

  • Business visitors
  • Foreign representatives and their family members
  • Foreign government officers
  • Military personnel
  • On-campus employment
  • Performing artists
  • Athletes and team members
  • Public speakers
  • Clergy
  • News reporters and media crews
  • Convention organizers
  • Judges or referees
  • Expert witnesses or investigators
  • Examiners and evaluators
  • Health care students
  • Civil aviation inspectors
  • Flight crew
  • Aviation accident or incident inspectors
  • Emergency service providers
  • Off-campus work
  • Anyone on an implied status

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What If My Work Permit Expires?

Work permit application (1)

If you want to stay in Canada longer than your work permit allows you to, you can extend the work permit with a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP). In this case, however, your Canadian employer, job, and location of work must remain the same.

Should you have an employer-specific work permit and would like to change employers, you can apply for an open work permit.

In the case that your Canada work permit expires before you have the chance to apply for an extension or a different permit, you have 90 days to restore it but are not allowed to work during this period. If your application does not get approved, you must leave Canada and reapply for it.

2. What is the best time to apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP)?

The best time to apply is when your work permit is only valid for four more months. By extending your work permit with a BOWP during this period, you can continue to work in Canada while waiting for the results of your application for permanent residency.

The BOWP permit supports a variety of Canada work visas, that allows foreign nationals to continue to work in Canada, including:

  • Express Entry
  • Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
  • Home Child-Care Provider or Home Support Worker
  • Caring for Children Class or Caring for People with Medical Needs Class
  • Agri-Pilot candidates, currently waiting for permanent residency status
  • To gain BOWP eligibility, you must meet the following requirements:

    • Currently live and work in Canada.
    • Have applied for an open work permit.
    • Hold a valid temporary work permit (that expires in 4 months).
    • Maintain a positive outcome on your permanent resident application under an Express Entry program.

    3. What are the top most in-demand jobs to find work in Canada?

    In 2021, there has been an increase in certain in-demand jobs in Canada. These include many different roles for skilled workers in everyday job positions.

    Given that Canada is one of the strongest countries globally with one of the most stable economies and politics, you can rest assured that Canadian companies also offer some of the most competitive salaries in the global job market. Needless to say, if you want to get a job anywhere, combined with incredible benefits, then Canada is definitely the place to do it.


    Most In-Demand Jobs in Canada
    Job TypeAverage Annual Salaries
    1. Web Developer (NOC 2175)$69,305
    2. Human Resources (HR) Manager (NOC 0112) $89,0003
    3. Electrical Engineer (NOC 2133)$91,832
    4. Veterinarians (NOC 3114)$95,804
    5. Human Resources and Recruitment Officers (NOC 1123)$65,292
    6. Financial Advisor (NOC 0111, 1114)$62,971
    7. Pharmacist (NOC 3131)$89,600
    8. Welder (NOC 7327)$73,504
    9. General Labourer (NOC 7327)$47,678
    10. Aerospace Engineer (NOC 2146)$98,347
    11. Administrative Assistant (NOC 1241)$45,927
    12. Merchandiser (NOC 6222)$48,610
    CV-10 Benefits of Working in Canada (1)

    Start Your Journey to Work in Canada Today

    The process required to immigrate to Canada can seem challenging, especially if you do not understand it or know which work visa option is the best one suited for you.

    To eliminate confusion and prevent potentially extending your Canada work visa application processing time or the risk of getting your visa application denied, you can get advice from a Canadian immigration expert.

    Our affiliated ICCRC-registered Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) can test your eligibility to qualify for a Canadian work permit by giving you a comprehensive assessment. This evaluation will determine if you qualify for a Canada work visa and how long it will take for you to gain permanent residency.

    So, do you have what it takes to take the leap, move to and work in one of the best countries in the world? It is time to find out.

    Take action on your dream to work in Canada today.