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Canada work permit

Are you a foreign national and need to work in Canada? You will need a Canadian work permit.

At Immigration Advice Service, we have a team of licensed Canadian immigration lawyers and consultants who can help you with your work permit application. Contact us on +1 844 290 6312 or online.

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    Overview of the Canadian Work Permit

    A work permit is an official document issued by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that gives foreigners the authorization to work in Canada.

    It is also a record of the employer’s promise to comply with certain conditions, such as offering a job to a foreign worker that meets Canadian standards and paying them a salary that meets provincial or territorial standards.

    Work permits are temporary in nature and are usually valid for the period of employment stated in the job offer, up to a maximum of four years. After that, foreign nationals must apply for a new valid work permit.

    Some work permits may be valid for more than one employer if the job offer states so or if the foreign national is working in Canada under the International Mobility Program.

    Foreign nationals who want to work in Canada must apply for a work permit. The procedure to apply for a work permit depends on the foreign national’s country of citizenship, where they are applying from, and the type of work they will be doing in Canada.

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    Types of Work Permits

    There are different types of work permits, which are based on the foreign national’s situation. The type of work permit a foreign national needs will be determined by:

    • The activities the foreign national will be doing in Canada; and,
    • Whether the foreign national is already in Canada or applying from outside Canada.

    Employer-specific Work Permit

    The most common type of work permit is an employer-specific work permit. As the name suggests, this work permit is specific to the employer named on the work permit, and the foreign national may only work for that employer.

    The job offer must be for a full-time, part-time, or non-seasonal job. The foreign national may only work up to the number of hours stated on the work permit.

    An employer-specific work permit is usually valid for the length of the employment, up to a maximum of four years. If the job offer is for less than four years, the work permit will be valid for the same period of time as the job offer.

    In order to apply for an employer-specific work permit, the foreign national must have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer.

    The employer must also obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) unless the foreign national is exempt from the LMIA requirement. The employer must also pay the employer compliance fee.

    Open Work Permit

    An open work permit allows foreign nationals to work for any employer in Canada, with some exceptions. Open work permits are usually valid for the same period of time as the foreign national’s status in Canada, such as the validity of their study or work permit.

    Some open work permits are valid for a specific period of time, such as two years. Open work permits cannot be issued to foreign nationals who are working in Canada under the International Mobility Program.

    In order to apply for an open work permit, the foreign national must:

    • Have a valid study or work permit; or,
    • Be the spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or international student; or,
    • Be a participant in the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program; or,
    • Have been authorized to work in Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and have an offer of employment.
    Aerial view of business district in Toronto

    Who Does Not Need a Permit to Work in Canada?

    There are certain foreign nationals who do not need a work permit to work in Canada. This includes:

    • Foreign representatives to Canada and their family members.
    • Members of foreign armed forces under the Visiting Forces Act.
    • Certain clergy.
    • Certain athletes and team members, as well as support personnel.
    • Students working on campus.
    • Graduate students working off campus.
    • Participants in exchange programs.
    • Foreign workers hired by Canada’s foreign missions.
    • Spouses or common-law partners of highly skilled foreign workers.

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      What Are the Eligibility Criteria for the Work Permit?

      General Requirements

      The eligibility criteria for Canadian work permits vary depending on several factors, including the foreign national’s citizenship country, where they apply, and the type of work they will be doing in Canada.

      But there are certain general requirements that all foreign nationals must meet in order to be eligible for a work permit. These requirements are:

      • The foreign national must have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer.
      • The job offer must be for a full-time, part-time, or non-seasonal job.
      • The foreign national must meet the minimum qualifications for the position.
      • The foreign national must have a valid travel document, such as a passport.
      • The foreign national must be in good health and have a satisfactory police certificate (if required).
      • The foreign nationals may need to provide proof that they have enough money to support themselves and any family members who come with them to Canada.
      • The foreign national must have no criminal record and must not pose a security risk to Canada.
      • The foreign national must not have any outstanding Canada-wide warrants for their arrest.
      • The foreign national must not be inadmissible to Canada on health or criminal grounds, among other reasons.

      For those inside Canada

      If the foreign national is already in Canada, they may be eligible to apply for a work permit from within Canada. To do so, they must:

      • Have a valid study or work permit; or,
      • Be the spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or foreign student; or,
      • Be a participant in the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program; or,
      • Have been authorized to work in Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and have an offer of employment.

      From outside Canada

      If the foreign national is applying for a work permit from outside Canada, they must:

      • Apply online or on paper.
      • Pay the application fee.
      • Include all required documents, such as a valid job offer, a police certificate (if required), and proof of financial support.
      • The foreign national may also need to provide biometrics as part of the application process.

      For foreign workers applying at a port of entry to Canada

      If the foreign national is applying for a work permit at a port of entry (POE), such as an airport, seaport, or land border crossing, they must:

      • Be eligible for a work permit.
      • Be eligible to travel to Canada without a visitor visa, temporary resident visa or an eTA.
      • Have a valid travel document, such as a passport.
      • Prove to the immigration officer that they meet the requirements to enter Canada.
      • Pay any applicable fees.
      • The foreign national may also need to provide biometrics as part of the application process.
      Aerial view of Niagara Falls

      Required Documents for Temporary Foreign Workers

      The required documents for foreign workers also depend on the abovementioned factors.

      But there are certain required documents that all foreign nationals must submit as part of their work permit application. These documents are:

      • A valid travel document, such as a passport.
      • Two recent passport photographs.
      • A copy of their birth certificate.
      • A copy of their marriage certificate (if applicable).
      • Proof of financial support, such as bank statements or a letter from their financial sponsor.
      • A valid job offer from a Canadian employer.
      • They will also need biometrics as part of the application process.

      If you have adults accompanying you to Canada, each individual will require their own job offer letter.

      If you are a live-in caregiver in Canada, you must provide:

      • Your contract of employment.
      • A copy of your work permit or a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada that proves you applied for a work permit.

      You may also need to provide other documents, such as:

      • A police certificate.
      • Proof of your professional credentials.

      Quebec Work Permit Documents

      Foreign nationals who want to work in the province of Quebec must obtain a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) before applying for a work permit.

      The CAQ is issued by the Quebec government and is required for most foreign workers who want to work in Quebec, with a few exceptions.

      Quebec here means the province, not the city in Canada. And they include a few exceptions like:

      • Workers who are exempt from the Canada Labour Code.
      • Intra-company transferees.
      • Spouses and common-law partners of certain workers in Quebec.
      • Participants in the Canada-Quebec Accord on Immigration.

      To apply for a CAQ, foreign workers must:

      • Be at least 18 years of age.
      • Have a valid passport or travel document.
      • Meet the criteria for one of the following immigration programs: Quebec Skilled Worker Program, Quebec Experience Class, Investor Program, or Entrepreneur Program.
      • Provide a copy of (CAQ) from Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI).

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        How to Apply for the Canada Work Permit

        Foreign nationals can apply for a Canada work permit in one of two ways: online or on paper. Applying online is faster and cheaper, and it allows foreign nationals to submit their biometrics at the same time.

        To apply online, foreign nationals must have:

        • A valid credit card.
        • Access to a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of their documents.
        • A valid email address.

        To apply on paper, foreign nationals must:

        • Submit their application by mail or in-person to the visa office responsible for their country or region.
        • Pay the processing fee and provide biometrics.

        Here is a step-by-step application process for a Canada work permit:

        Step One: Get a Job Offer

        The first step in applying for a Canadian work permit is to get a job offer from a Canadian employer. The job offer must be genuine and the employer must be willing and able to hire foreign workers.

        In most cases, the employer will need to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

        An LMIA is a document that proves that there is a need for foreign workers and that no Canadians or permanent residents are available to do the job. In some cases, an LMIA is not required. These cases include:

        • Intra-company transferees.
        • Spouses or common-law partners of certain workers in Canada.
        • Participants in the International Experience Canada program.
        • Certain young workers who are taking part in special programs.
        Adult typing on laptop

        Step Two: Apply for a Work Permit

        The next step is to apply for a work permit. Foreign nationals can apply for a work permit online or on paper. During the online application, you will create a My Service Canada account.

        You will need this account to complete the online application. You will also need to upload documents, such as your passport, job offer letter, and LMIA (if you have one).

        You will also need to pay the processing fee and submit your biometrics. The processing fee for a work permit is $155 CAD. You may also need to pay a biometrics fee of $85 CAD. Biometrics are physical characteristics, such as your fingerprints and photo.

        Step Three: Wait for a Decision on Your Application

        After you apply, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will review your application to make sure you meet all the requirements. They will also check to see if you are eligible to work in Canada.

        If IRCC needs more information from you, they will send you a request for more information. You will have 90 days to respond.

        If your application is complete and you meet all the requirements, IRCC will make a decision on your application which should take less than 93 days to process.

        Step Four: Get Your Work Permit

        Once your application is approved, IRCC will send you a letter confirming that you can work in Canada. The letter will also tell you how long your work permit is valid for.

        In most cases, the work permit will be valid for the same length of time as your LMIA. You may need to give this letter to the border services officer when you arrive in Canada.

        Step Five: Start Working

        Once you have your work permit, you can start working in Canada. You should ensure that your job is the same as the job described in your LMIA.

        You should also make sure that you start working within the validity dates of your work permit. If you change jobs, you will need to apply for a new work permit.

        One advantage of a work permit if you have children is that they may be able to attend Canadian educational institutions without paying international tuition rates. In some cases, your spouse or common-law partner may also be eligible for a work permit. You may also be eligible to immigrate to Canada permanently under certain programs.

        Canada Work Permit Fees

        There are three fees that you need to pay when you apply for a Canada work permit:

        • The processing fee is $155 CAD.
        • The biometrics fee (if you need to provide biometrics) is $85 CAD.
        • If you are applying from inside Canada, you will also need to pay the Open Work Permit Holder Fee of $100 CAD.

        Work Permit Approval and Refusal

        If your application is approved, you will receive a letter of introduction confirming that you can work in Canada. The letter will also tell you how long your work permit is valid for.

        If your application is refused, you will receive a letter explaining why your application was refused. You have the right to appeal the decision at the Federal Court of Canada if you think the refusal was unfair.

        You may also be able to reapply for a work permit if the reason for the refusal has changed.

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          How Can IAS Help?

          The Canada work permit process can be complicated and time-consuming.

          If you would like help with your application, contact the Immigration Advice Service.

          We are a team of qualified immigration lawyers who can help you with every step of the application process, from start to finish.

          We offer a free initial consultation, so you can get started on your Canada work permit application today.

          Contact today on +1 844 290 6312 or online for assistance.

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