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Canadian Work Visas and Permits

Updated: January 22nd, 2024

Canada is a fantastic place to work. With its thriving economy, growing industries, high salaries and respect for workers' rights, Canada attracts foreign workers worldwide. In addition, the massive growth and Canada's aging population mean over 1 million job vacancies nationwide!

However, if you're a foreign national looking to work in Canada, you need a Canada work permit. One must consider many aspects of Canadian work permits when looking to work in Canada. On this page, we have broken down some of the significant elements of the Canadian work permit and what you need to do before you can live and work in Canada.

Do I need a Canada Work Permit?

Do I need a Canada Work Permit?

If you plan to live and work in Canada and you are not affiliated with the country, you're legally required to have a work permit - for example, Canadian citizens or permanent residents do not require a work permit. However, there are many types of work permits, and knowing which one you need is important before you start your Canadian journey. The following factors below will determine your eligibility for the type of work permit you require:

  • the type of employment you have;
  • the Canadian employer you can work for;
  • where you're allowed to work;
  • how long can you continue to work and
  • the times or periods of work.

Now, let’s take a look at the type of work permits and its categories.

All Canadian work permits fall into one of two categories:

The Open Work Permit

This permit or work visa allows you to work for any Canadian employer, anywhere in Canada, over a set period. You will not lose your work permit if you change jobs.

This permit is generally reserved for specific streams like the International Experience Canada (IEC) Working Holiday Program or the International Mobility Program, which allows young people from certain countries to work and travel in Canada to build international experience.

The Employer-Specific Work Permit

This permit allows you to live and work in Canada for a specific employer for the length of your employment. Therefore, you may have to return to your home country if you lose your job.

Here are a few breakdowns of some of the specific work programs that fall under these two categories:

Temporary Foreign Work Permit (TWFP)

Temporary foreign workers are issued employer-specific/ closed work permits under the TWFP. This allows them to only work for the employer specified in their work permit application


Post-Graduate Work Permit

Post-Graduate Work Permit - The PGWP is for international graduates from tertiary Canadian Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) who want to stay in Canada to work. Not all DLIs have PGWP eligible programs, so it is important that you check your institution's status before applying for this type of work permit. The duration of the permit is directly linked to the duration of your studies, which must have been for a minimum of eight months.


Global Talent Stream

Global Talent Stream - This program allows innovative Canadian companies on the GTS Occupations list to hire highly specialized foreign workers in certain fields without an LMIA. Eligible candidates for this program must hold an advanced degree in their field and have at least five years of specialized experience. The program falls under the TFWP and has a very short processing time; you could have your employer-specific work permit in as little as two weeks!


International Mobility Program

International Mobility Program - The IMP serves Canada’s broader economic and cultural interests by allowing employers who wish to hire foreign workers to do so without an LMIA. The employer and foreign worker must qualify for one of the LMIA-exemption categories, such as the Atlantic Immigration Pilot or CETA, and jobs must be posted via the Employer Portal of the IRCC’s official website


However, there are dozens of work permit types outside of these, specifically designed for every possible situation. Look at this page for a complete list of the different kinds of Canadian work visas.

If you're unsure which permit you to need, you should talk to a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). An RCIC will evaluate your credentials, help you find the right way for you to move to Canada and guide you through the application process. If you're unsure of how an RCIC can help, have a look at this page.

What Can I Expect to Earn Working in Canada?

Canada famously has a very high minimum wage, and Canadian workers are known to have more buying power than most first-world nations. According to, the average salary in Canada is$66, 483 per year. However, this differs massively based on your region, as different regions have different key industries and living costs, which in turn, affect salaries. The average salary in each province of Canada is as follows:

Province Average Annual Salary (CA$)
Quebec 64,973
Nova Scotia 59,634
New Brunswick 59,567
Manitoba 60,099
Saskatchewan 61,429
Alberta 68,744
British Columbia 68,477
Ontario 67,346
Nunavut 70,872
Yukon 69,208
Northwest Territories 72,665
Newfoundland and Labrador 60,831
Prince Edward Island 60,366

To see what kind of spending power these salaries will afford you, look at our page on the cost of living in Canada.

How Can I Get a Job Offer in Canada?

How Can I Get a Job Offer in Canada?

You cannot apply for a work permit in Canada without a clear job offer from one of the governments of Canada's list of eligible Canadian employers. The best way to search for jobs in Canada is to look online. Many of the best job sites in Canada project not only the type of jobs on offer, but also the salaries those jobs can offer. Some of the best job sites in Canada are as follows:

To understand what makes these platforms the best job sites in Canada and how they can help you with your journey to working in Canada, look at this article. The Canada Job Bank stands out on this list as it is a government-provided service, meaning all of the jobs on the Canada Job Bank are from eligible Canadian employers. For a full breakdown of how to search for and land a Canadian job offer, look at this page.

How Can I Ensure I'm Eligible for a Canada Work Permit?

There are three primary sets of eligibility requirements for a Canadian work permit. The first, is for you as the applicant. The second, is for your Canadian employer. Each must fulfill a specific set of criteria.

Your Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a work permit, you must:

  • Prove to an officer or governing body that you will leave Canada once your employment ends;
  • have no criminal record, and commit no crimes for the duration of your work permit;
  • not pose as any danger to Canada's security;
  • be in good health (as shown via a medical exam);
  • only work for eligible Canadian employers;
  • not work for an employer that offers escort services, striptease, erotic dance or erotic massages and
  • have sufficient documentation to prove your admissibility to Canada.

Your Employer's Eligibility Criteria

Your employer must complete a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This document proves that they cannot fill the vacancy locally, and therefore, hires talent abroad to fill Canada's local job market. 

Your employer must also be on the list of Canada's eligible employers, which you can find on the Government of Canada's website.

How do I Apply for a Work Permit?

Once you've landed your job offer and ensured you're eligible for a work permit, you need to start applying. The application process is as follows:

Step 1 - Gather Documents

You must provide the following documentation to prove you fulfill the eligibility criteria.

Proof Category Required Documents
Proof of Identity
  • Valid passport or travel document
  • Two (2) photos of yourself and family members or common-law partner (if applicable)
Proof of Employment in Canada
  • Copy of employer's Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
  • Copy of employment contract
  • Proof of eligibility for the job:
    • Valid Canadian provincial or territorial trade certificate
    • Educational requirements
    • Past work experience outlined in a resume
Proof of Relationship
  • Marriage certificate
  • Birth certificates
  • Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union (IMM 5409)
Other documents

These documents are often only required for specific streams or are asked for after submitting your application. However, we recommend you procure the documents you need before submission, which may speed up your processing times.

  • Proof of your current immigration status in that country or territory.
  • If you require a re-entry permit for the country of your passport, you must receive it before you apply.
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Proof of a medical examination
  • Educational Credential Assessment

    • This is primarily for skilled foreign workers who must prove their credentials are valid and relevant for their occupation.


This is only a preliminary list of documents. Your work permit may ask for more specific documentation. To ensure you know exactly what documents you need, consult the Document Checklist (IMM 5488) on the government of Canada's website.

Ask an RCIC:

What best ways to validate your documents for Canadian immigration applications?

You should send them to an RCIC to check if the documents you have suit the immigration program you're applying for.

Step 2 - Prepare Your Answers

Once you've gathered your external documents, you must fill out multiple forms to obtain work permits. They are as follows:

  • Application For Work Permit Made Outside of Canada (IMM 1295).
  • Authority to release personal information to a designated individual (IMM 5475).
  • Family Information (IMM 5645 or IMM 5707).
  • Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union (IMM 5409) (If applicable).
  • Use of a Representative (IMM 5476).


To fill out these forms correctly, you will need to understand Canada's National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. Every occupation in Canada has its designated NOC code, which you must know to enter Canada. Here is a handy guide to the NOC system to help you find your code.

Step 3 - Create an Online Account

Once you have filled out all the necessary forms, you need to create an online account on the government of Canada's website. You can do this part of the process via paper through a visa office, but it can massively extend the processing times.

Step 4 - Receive a Personal Checklist

Once you have uploaded your documents and entered all your details, you will receive a personalized checklist of processes you must undertake and the documentation required to prove what you have done so. You will not obtain a valid work permit if you don't fulfill all the criteria.

Step 5 - Pay the Visa Processing Fees

Once you have completed your visa application, you must pay the processing fees. They are as follows:

Fees CA$
Work permit (including extensions) – per person 155

Work permit (including extensions) – per group (3 or more performing artists)

This is the maximum fee for three or more performing artists applying at the same place and time

Open work permit holder (if applicable) 100

Step 6 - Submit Your Application

Once you've completed your application and paid all the fees, you can submit your application. Once you submit your application, the IRCC will check if it's complete and that all criteria have been fulfilled. Try not to omit any fields and if your application is incomplete, this may cause a delay in processing times and your application will be returned to you.

If your application is approved, you will receive a letter of introduction confirming this. However, this will not guarantee that you can enter Canada, as the final decision will lie with the official at the Canadian port of entry.


What Do I Do if My Canadian Work Permit is About to Expire?

You can apply for a new work permit, provided you continue to fulfill the work permit criteria. However, there are multiple ways to extend your time in Canada. To see which ones work best for you, look at this page.

Are There Specific Work Permits for Foreign Workers From Particular Countries?

Yes. Canada has multiple trade agreements with certain countries, giving them a priority in gaining work permits. Some of these programs are the Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), the Canada UK Trade Agreement (CUKTA), Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Is There a Way I Can Continue Working if I've Applied for Permanent Residency?

Yes, if your work permit is set to expire before your permanent residency application is processed, you can continue working in Canada. However, you must apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit. This handy guide shows you if you need it or not and how to apply.

Take Your Career To The Next Level

Canadian work visa or permit protects foreigners working in Canada as they get rights and protections in line with Canadian labour laws. Keeping your employment status legal also opens the door to applying for permanent residency in Canada. Taking the right pathway could set you up for a prosperous life in Canada.

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