Move to Canada as a Religious Worker

Are you a religious worker seeking new horizons? Look no further than Canada. From visa options and immigration pathways to support services and community opportunities, we've got you covered every step of the way.

Canada offers a welcoming environment for religious workers from around the globe, where you can practice your faith while contributing to diverse and vibrant communities. Canada's doors are open to you whether you're a cleric, minister, or spiritual leader.

Take a look at the unique opportunities and immigration pathways available for religious workers seeking to relocate to Canada and contribute to vibrant communities nationwide.

Religious Work in Canada

religious work in canada

Religious work in Canada encompasses various roles and responsibilities, from leading congregations to providing spiritual guidance and support to individuals and communities. Religious workers play a vital role in fostering a sense of belonging and community cohesion across the country's multicultural landscape.

Whether in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, or other places of worship, these dedicated individuals offer solace, counsel, and a sense of purpose to their followers.

Canada's commitment to religious freedom ensures that practitioners from all faiths can freely practice and express their beliefs, contributing to the nation's rich tapestry of religious diversity.

Steps to Move to Canada as a Religious Worker

Here are the steps to take to become a religious worker in Canada.

Step 1: Choose An Applicable Work Permit

The first step in moving to Canada as a religious worker is determining the most suitable work permit for you. You may apply for a work permit under the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for Religious Work or Religious Leaders Exempt From a Work Permit. However, this depends on factors such as the nature of your religious work and whether you have a job offer from a Canadian religious organization.

LMIA Exempt For Religious Work Permit

The LMIA Exempt For Religious Work Permit was created for foreign nationals responsible for religious duties in Canada. As a prospective foreign national religious worker, you must have an LMIA-exempt offer of employment number, which is a seven-digit number beginning with the letter A and include it as part of your application.

Religious Leaders Exempt From a Work Permit

The Religious leaders exempt from a work permit visa is designed for foreign immigrant religious workers responsible for assisting a Canadian congregation or group in achieving its spiritual goals.

Step 2: Check the Eligibility Requirements

Once you’ve chosen an applicable work permit, you must check the eligibility criteria you need to meet to apply. The eligibility criteria for the LMIA Exempt For Religious Work Permit can be outlined as working for a Canadian religious organization that includes the following duties.

  • Demonstrate that your work provides religious instruction,
  • Your work promotes a particular faith,
  • Duties include advancing the spiritual teachings of religious faith and
  • Religious occupation involves the maintenance of spiritual observances and doctrines on which those teachings are based.

Please Note

Being employed by a Canadian religious organization needs to be more proof to meet the requirements for an LMIA exemption. For example, an administrator or office manager in a religious organization is generally not considered religious. This also applies to clerical duties, accounting, gardening, and any other duties for a Canadian religious organization that doesn’t adhere to the abovementioned duties.

To be eligible to apply for a Religious Leaders Exempt From a Work Permit, you must be engaged in work for a religious organization in Canada that meets the following criteria:

  • Preaching a religious doctrine,
  • Performing duties involving the gathering of your religious congregation,
  • Presiding over regular religious services,
  • Adminstering religious/faith rites such as funerals and marriages,
  • Promoting spirituality via sermons, prayer, and various religious talks,
  • Giving moral and spiritual guidance to your religious faith members, and
  • Providing spiritual counseling service if you’re an ordained minister or religious order member.

Examples of foreign religious workers who can qualify for the Religious Leaders Exempt From a Work Permit include:

  • Archbishop,
  • Bishop,
  • Cardinal,
  • Chaplain,
  • Evangelist,
  • Granthi,
  • Imam,
  • Minister,
  • Pastor,
  • Priest, and
  • Rabbi.

Step 3: Gather The Relevant Documents

The documents needed to support your application to become a religious worker in Canada using the two abovementioned work permits include:

  • Your Canadian Religious Organization’s Certificate of Incorporation issued in the destination province or territory,
  • Proof of registration as a non-profit organization or charity received from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in line with the Income Tax Act,
  • Religious organization statement showing the founding date and place of the religious organization, its duration of operation, structural description, adult congregation size, number of employed clergy, and scheduled period of employment,
  • Copies of sections of the organization's constitution and by-laws regarding ordination, appointment, and dismissal of ministers or clergy,
  • Residential lease copy if a residence is provided for you as a foreign national,
  • Proof of your ordination or appointment, and
  • Authorization letter from the governing official of your religious denomination with your status in the religious organization, entitlement to minister to your denomination, organization mailing address, payment arrangement, and work hours and duties description.

Step 4: Submit Your Application and Pay Your Processing Fee (If Applicable)

Once you have gathered all the required documents, you can submit your work permit application to Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). You may apply online through the IRCC website or by mail, depending on your preference and the specific instructions provided by IRCC for your country of residence.

Processing Fee

Among the fees you may have to pay includes a processing fee. If you don’t receive pay for your work for a religious organization but are still eligible to apply, you’ll be exempt from having to pay for your application’s processing fee. Suppose you receive room and board and a stipend for the religious organization you work for. In that case, you may still qualify for a processing fee exemption if:

  • Your room and board are vital to your ability to perform your work according to the terms of your employment arrangement, and
  • The stipend is non-monetized (not an allowance or taxable benefit).

Learn more about Canadian Immigration Processing Fees.

Work Permit Duration

If your work permit application is approved, it will be valid for the period specified in your offer of employment. Canadian Border Services Officials (BSO) cannot issue you a work permit or grant you status as a temporary worker in Canada beyond your passport’s validity.

What Are The Benefits of Being a Religious Worker or Leader in Canada

What Are The Benefits of Immigrating To Canada as a Religious Worker

Here are some of Canada's most prominent benefits for religious workers in Canada.

Streamlined Immigration Process

Religious leaders and workers can bypass the standard work permit process by qualifying for exemptions under specific LMIA Exempt For Religious Work Permits and Religious Leaders Exempt From a Work Permit regulations. This simplifies the immigration process in terms of time and complexity.

Enhanced Benefits with LMIA Exemption

This exemption offers additional advantages beyond the standard R186(l) exemption, including:

  • Access to Canadian government healthcare via provincial government healthcare coverage,
  • Eligibility for your spouse to apply for an open work permit spousal work permit, allowing them to work legally in Canada, and
  • Opportunities for your dependent children to attend public schools without a separate study permit.

Potential Tax Benefits

Religious workers may be eligible for Canadian tax exemptions depending on their role and the religious organization's structure. However, consulting a tax professional is necessary to understand potential benefits and navigate specific tax situations.

Learn more about Canada’s taxes.

Job Security in Canada

Religious organizations may offer stability and long-term career prospects, particularly for established positions. This can be attractive to individuals seeking secure employment. This is reinforced by Canada’s comparatively low unemployment rate of 5.7%, according to Statistics Canada.

Contribution to Canadian Society

Religious workers can play a valuable role in contributing to the social fabric of Canada by providing spiritual guidance, promoting community engagement, and offering support and services to individuals and families.

Learn more about serving your community in Canada.

Diverse and Multicultural Environment

Canada boasts a diverse and multicultural population, offering opportunities to connect with individuals from various backgrounds and faith traditions. This can be enriching personally and professionally.

Learn about the top 10 multicultural cities to settle in Canada.



Is Canada Welcoming to Religious Workers From Different Faiths?

Canada values religious freedom and recognizes the importance of accommodating individuals from different religious backgrounds, fostering an environment where people of all faiths can practice their beliefs freely and contribute to the richness of Canadian society.

Find out about Religious Rights in Canada.

Can Religious Workers Bring Religious Materials or Items to Canada?

Religious workers can typically bring religious materials and items to Canada for personal or professional use. However, they should be mindful of any restrictions on certain items and ensure compliance with Canada's customs regulations.

Support Services Are Available For Religious Workers in Canada?

Many Canadian religious organizations and communities offer support services for religious workers, including housing assistance, language classes, cultural orientation, and networking opportunities, helping them settle into their new environment and thrive in their roles.