To live in Canada as a foreign national, most of the time, you need to find a job to work there first, which requires a Canada work visa. Although getting a job before you move to Canada is not always a requirement, it does help you to appear more eligible for a visa, as it shows that you can contribute to the Canadian economy.
Since Canada has one of the strongest economies globally and an unemployment rate of only 8 percent, which is projected to be as low as 6.5 percent in 2026, job opportunities are and will continue to increase. This promises even greater prospects for the Great White North, which is why many people want to immigrate to Canada.
Types of Canadian Work Permits
If you get a job offer in Canada as a foreign national, consider it an opportunity that you cannot refuse because it can be a very beneficial move for your career and improve you and your family’s quality of life.
There are two main types of work permits, under which there is also a category of work visas. You must have a work permit and work visa to immigrate to Canada for work purposes. The two work permits include:
1. Open Work Permit
This work permit is not a job-specific option, which means that you can work for any Canadian employer. It also exempts you from requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to qualify for a Canadian work visa.
Who is it for?
Eligible foreign nationals that want to work in Canada in the occupation and for the employer of their choice.
2. Employer-Specific Work Permit
A work permit that allows foreign nationals to work for a specific employer in Canada, according to conditions and limitations detailed in the work permit. This work permit limits a foreign national to one employer at a specific location, with a duration of employment, whom they are authorized to work for and comply with. It also requires a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
Who is it for?
This work permit is for anyone that wants to work for a specific employer in a set province and for a specified duration.
Types of Canadian Work Visas
To get a Canadian work visa, you must show that you are competent to perform the job duties that are required in the job offered to you. For skilled positions, this can be proved by providing a copy of education credentials. To show that your work experience is valid, you can also submit reference letters from each of your previous employers.
With this, you will also be required to have an Education Credential Assessment (ECA) to show that your qualifications meet Canada’s standards. Additionally, you will need to provide supporting documents, depending on the type of work permit you are applying for.
Types of Canadian work visas include:
1. International Mobility Program (IMP)
The IMP was created to help Canadian employers hire skilled international workers on a temporary or permanent basis without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This work visa is primarily issued for jobs that Canadian employers failed to fill with existing residents in the country.
Given that it created a need to hire foreign working professionals, the program was also designed to fill Canada’s labour market needs, which presented the opportunity for foreign nationals to get jobs in Canada. This includes both temporary and permanent jobs at every skill level.
Although the IMP can give foreign nationals a temporary work visa, it can give you a window to eventually apply for permanent residency through several programs, including one of the federal economic programs or Canadian Experience Class (CEC), all of which are under the Express Entry System.
International Mobility Programs (IMPs) include:
- Post-graduate work permit program - A program for anyone that has studied and graduated from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
- Reciprocal Youth Change Agreements - A program such as the International Experience Class (IEC) for people aged 18 to 35-years old that want to travel and work in Canada
- International Free Trade Agreements - Programs that include the North American, South American and South Korea Free Trade Agreements, General Agreement on Trade Services, Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
- Intra-Company Transfer Program - A program for anyone that wants to transfer to a Canadian branch of the company they currently work for abroad
- Bridging Open-Work Permit - A work permit program for anyone in the transition phase to become a permanent resident
- Circumstances of Social or Cultural Benefit to Canada - A program for someone that can contribute to Canada through programs, such as the Mobilité Francophone Program. The outcome of this program depends on the applicant’s past success, testimonials and recommendations
To apply for the IMP, you need a Canadian job offer, apply for a work permit, and have a travel visa to enter Canada.
2. Working Holiday Visa (IEC)
As a very popular Canada work visa, the working holiday visa forms a part of the International Experience Class (IEC), which allows you the opportunity to live in Canada and work part-time while traveling the country. The work visa program is made available to citizens from 34 different countries that have a consensual youth mobility arrangement with Canada.
The temporary work visa can last between 12 to 24 months. This depends on your country of residence. It is ideal for adventurous young adults that would like to experience Canada without settling down in the country permanently. By gaining part-time work experience in Canada, however, does increase your chances to get a permanent visa, should you wish to apply for one after your working holiday visa expires.
The application process for this visa program includes the following steps:
- Creating an online Express Entry profile
- Waiting for the draw to take place upon completion
- Submitting your application in 20 days if you receive your Invitation to Apply (ITA)
3. Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)
This work visa program was designed for Canadian employers to hire foreign national skilled workers for a variety of jobs in Canada.
A crucial part of the application process for the TFWP is to apply for an LMIA because there were not any Canadian residents available to apply for the job position. For this reason, Canadian employers often need to hire foreign nationals through this program.
To qualify for this program, an applicant must submit a copy of the LMIA with their work permit application. If your potential Canadian employer does not want an LMIA, you can apply for a work visa through the International Mobility Program (IMP).
Some of the most popular TFWP streams support Canadian employers’ hiring needs, which is why there is a list of requirements that must be met to assemble a successful LMIA application for the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
TFWP streams differ based on the wages that are offered to workers and their skill level, which is determined by the National Occupation Classification (NOC).
The different TFWP streams include:
- High Wage Worker Stream
- Low Wage Worker Stream
- Agriculture Worker Stream
- Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)
- Global Talent Stream (GTS)
- Home Care Provider Stream
- Foreign Academics
To qualify for any of the above-mentioned TFWP streams, you must meet specific requirements, including have the following:
- Valid job offer letter
- Valid passport
- Proof that you meet your job offer requirements
- Medical examination and certificate
- Police clearance certificate
- Proof of English and French language abilities with test results
- Copy of LMIA
- Proof of funds
4. Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP)
If you would like to study in Canada, you can gain permanent residency faster compared to most other work visa program options.
The PGWP helps foreign students that have completed a qualification from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI) to live and work in Canada. As an international student under the PGWP in Canada, you can receive an open-work permit. It will allow you to work either part-time or full-time for a Canadian employer.
This study and work visa program will allow you to work for as many hours as you like. The permit is also valid for eight months to three years. Although this is a good opportunity to live in Canada permanently, it is not recommended if you are looking to build up work experience.
International students that find employment in any occupation classified as highly skilled or under the NOC 0, A, or B types will be eligible to claim Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points if they apply through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
Why it is Important to Get a Legal Canadian Work Permit and Visa
A Canadian work permit and work visa go hand in hand to secure your stay in the Great White North. If you wish to work in one of the greatest countries in the world, you require the Canada work visa with a work permit to protect your right as a foreign national to work and live in the country. With it, you are also protected under Canadian labour laws.
Since it allows foreigners to have all the documentation needed to move to and get jobs in Canada, it is essential and will give you peace of mind to legally live and work in Canada.
If you are interested to learn more about the different types of work permits and visas, or to check if you are eligible for either one, you can get in touch with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC).