Work Permit

What is a Work Permit?

A Work Permit is a document which authorizes certain persons, who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, to work in Canada. A Work Permit will be issued with conditions and restrictions placed on the Work Permit holder. The conditions and restrictions placed on it will be different for every person. A Work Permit specifies the type work that the worker is permitted to engage in, including:

  • the occupation,
  • the employer,
  • the location of the work, and
  • the times and periods of the work.

Additionally, if a Work Permit is issued to a temporary resident, it may also specify the period authorized for the worker’s temporary stay in Canada.

A Work Permit will also specify the type of work that the worker is prohibited from engaging in.


Who needs a Work Permit to work in Canada?

Almost every foreign national requires a Work Permit before they can work in Canada. While some type of work in Canada is exempt from the requirement of needing a Work Permit, it is recommended that you obtain written authorization from Canada’s immigration department or an opinion from a Canadian immigration lawyer before you engage in this work.

Mandelbaum Immigration Lawyers can conduct an assessment for you to help you determine whether you require a Work Permit or you are exempt from the requirement of needing on before you work in Canada.


What are the different types of Work Permit categories?

Work Permits for temporary residents fall into three main categories:

  1. Persons whose work in Canada requires a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
  2. Persons whose work in Canada is LMIA-exempt under the International Mobility Program (IMP)
  3. Persons whose work in Canada is LMIA-exempt under certain situations prescribed by regulation or public policy

A LMIA is a prior approval issued by the Government of Canada to an employer permitting the employer to fill a position in Canada with a foreign worker on the basis that the admission of this foreign worker into Canada will likely result in neutral or positive labour market impacts. A LMIA application is processed by Service Canada or Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

A LMIA-exempt Work Permit issued under the International Mobility Program provided a person and their employer meets all of the eligibility criteria of the particular exemption category identified in their application. Eligible categories under the International Mobility Program include persons authorized to apply for LMIA-exempt work permits as Professionals, Investors or Traders under Free Trade Agreements, as Intra-Company Transferees, as Skilled Workers or Entrepreneurs under Provincial Nominee Programs, as professional or semi-professional Coaches or Athletes employed by Canadian based teams, as Actors, Directors, Producers or other key personnel of a TV or Film production in Canada, as Artists, Musicians, Composers, Song-Writers, Buskers or Story-tellers who admission into Canada would create significant social or cultural benefits for Canada, as Station Managers of Airlines in Canada, employees of multinational corporations or multinational organizations who can demonstrate similar reciprocal opportunities available to Canadians abroad, or as Executives, Senior Managers, Professionals, Specialized highly-skilled workers or other business persons whose admission into Canada would likely create significant economic benefits for Canada or significant economic opportunities for Canadians. This list of LMIA-exempt categories under the International Mobility Program is not intended to be exhaustive. Many other categories exist.

A LMIA-exempt Work Permit may also be issued under other circumstances prescribed by regulation or created through public policy. This includes spouses or common-law partners of foreign skilled workers or international students in Canada, post-graduate work permit (PGWP) program eligible international student graduates, bridging open work permit (BOWP) program eligible applicants for permanent residency under certain economic class immigration programs such as Express Entry, certain provincial nominee programs and certain caregiver programs, humanitarian and compassionate grounds applicants, and more. This list of LMIA-exempt categories under situations prescribed by regulation or public policy is not intended to be exhaustive. Many other categories exist.

It is recommended that you consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer before you submit your application. Mandelbaum Immigration Lawyers can conduct an assessment for you to help you determine whether you require a LMIA or a LMIA-exempt under the International Mobility Program or under certain situations prescribed by regulation or public policy.


Where do I apply for a Work Permit?

Applications for Canadian Work Permits must be made to the Government of Canada. They can be submitted before entering Canada, inside of Canada or at a port of entry into Canada. However, not every person can submit their application for a Work Permit to these places.

Most foreign nationals may apply for a Work Permit outside of Canada on-line through the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). They may also apply in person or by courier to a Visa Application Centre (VAC) located outside of Canada, if that service is available in their country.

In some cases, an application may be submitted by a person who is already inside of Canada to a Case Processing Centre office of IRCC in Canada. Applications must be submitted on-line through the website of IRCC, unless they are within one of the eligible exemption categories of persons who can choose to apply on-line or by paper courier.

Not everyone may submit their application to a Case Processing Centre office of IRCC in Canada. If you are a visitor to Canada, you may not normally apply for a work permit from inside of Canada. A person may be eligible to apply inside of Canada if they:

  • hold a work permit;
  • are working in Canada under an eligible work without a work permit exemption, excluding business visitors;
  • hold a study permit;
  • hold a temporary resident permit that is valid for at least six months;
  • with some limitations, have been conferred refugee protection;
  • are applying for humanitarian or compassionate grounds;
  • are an eligible spouse or common-law partner of a person described above;
  • are the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who has applied for sponsorship inside of Canada;
  • have made a refugee claim and cannot support themself without working;
  • are subject to an unenforceable removal order and cannot support themself without working;
  • applied for a work permit before entering Canada and the application was approved in writing but they have not been issued the permit;
  • are a citizen of Mexico in valid temporary resident status in Canada and are applying for any type of NAFTA Work Permit;
  • are a citizen of the United States in valid temporary resident status in Canada and are applying for a NAFTA Professional Work Permit or a NAFTA Intra-company Transfer Work Permit; or
  • hold a written statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade stating that it has no objection to the foreign national working at a foreign mission in Canada.

In some cases, a Work Permit application may be submitted by a person at a port of entry into Canada. Most foreign nationals who are exempt from the requirement of needing a visa to enter Canada may be eligible to apply at a port of entry. These persons will still require an electronic travel authorization (eTA) if the are flying to Canada. However, not all persons who are permitted to travel to Canada on an eTA are eligible to apply at a port of entry. Foreign nationals from eTA expansion countries, such as Brazilian citizens, may be allowed to fly to Canada on an eTA, but may not be allowed to apply for at a port of entry into Canada. Furthermore, persons applying for a Work Permit under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker (SAW) Program are ineligible to apply at a port of entry into Canada, even if they might otherwise be eligible.

Not all ports of entry will always process a Work Permit application. Some ports of entry, such as those in and around the Niagara, Ontario region of Canada, have placed restrictions on when a person may submit their application at the port of entry. Moreover, some ports of entry lack the resources or expertise to process certain types of applications.

The list of persons eligible to apply for a Work Permit before entering Canada, inside of Canada or at a port of entry into Canada changes from time-to-time. Determining whether it is permitted or strategically advisable to submit your application at a particular place and time likely requires professional expertise. It is recommended that you consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer before you submit your application. Mandelbaum Immigration Lawyers can conduct an assessment for you to help you determine where and when you are eligible to submit your application for a Work Permit.


How long does it take for an application to be approved?

Processing time for Work Permit applications vary by method of submission – on-line, by courier or in person – by country, and by Work Permit category. Estimated processing times for most categories of on-line or by courier applications are provided on-line by the Government of Canada. These estimated processing times represent how long it has taken the Government of Canada 80% of applications submitted on-line or by courier. The information is sorted by type or class of application. However, it is important to note that estimated processing times do not necessarily tell you how long it will take for your application to be processed. Your application can take shorter or longer than the posted estimated processing time.

Some applications for Work Permits may be selected for priority, urgent or express processing. A processing officer has the discretion to select any application for priority, urgent or express processing. However, exercising this discretion using requires the applicant to provide some compelling reasons for faster than normal processing.

Other applications that may be selected for priority, urgent or express processing are those which meet the criteria for certain programs or initiatives. Persons who have submitted Work Permit applications on-line outside of Canada under the Global Skills Strategy may be eligible for 2-week priority processing.

Currently, the Government of Canada does not offer the option for applicants to purchase priority, urgent or express processing.


When should I apply to extend my Work Permit?

If you are currently in Canada on a Work Permit and you wish to extend it, you must submit your extension application inside of Canada before your current Work Permit expires. If you apply to extend your Work Permit after it expires, your Work Permit will be ineligible for an extension. You will also not be authorized to work in Canada after your Work Permit has expired.

If you submitted your application to extend your Work Permit inside of Canada prior to the expiry of your Work Permit, and it has since expired, you may be eligible to continue to work in Canada in “implied status”. You may only continue to work under the terms and conditions of your prior Work Permit. In other words, your Work Permit conditions and restrictions continue while you are in implied status, even if you have applied to change those conditions. You may not work under new conditions until your new Work Permit has been issued and it authorizes new conditions. For example, if you held an employer-specific “closed” Work Permit, and you wish to work for a new employer who was not listed on your closed Work Permit, you are not permitted to work for your new employer until your new Work Permit has been issued. However, you may continue to work for the same employer, provided that your work continues to meet all the other conditions of your Work Permit, such as location, place of work, occupation and job offer terms and conditions. The only condition that is extended beyond the expiry date listed on your Work Permit is the condition limiting your work duration.  


How much does it cost to apply for a Work Permit to Canada?

The cost of a Work Permit application is typically $150 CAD per applicant. Discounts or capped fees may be available for certain eligible groups of workers coming to work for the same employer.

There may also be government application fees for certain incidental application services, such as biometrics, employer compliance, or temporary foreign worker labour market impact assessments. Further, some applicants may be expected to pay fees for required documentation or examinations, such as immigration medical examinations, police criminal records reports, or other records or reports.

Some Work Permit application categories are exempt from fees.


How do I apply for a Work Permit for Canada?

Persons interested in applying for a Work Permit to Canada must identify a category they believe they are eligible for in their application, complete all required forms, questionnaires and checklists and submit these with all required documentation, in order for their applications to be considered. Applications can be found incomplete or be refused if not all these items are completed or submitted.


Am I eligible for a Work Permit for Canada?

In order to determine your eligibility, processing officers may examine a number of factors to assess the likelihood that you will comply with the terms and conditions of your temporary stay, and whether you are eligible for the category of Work Permit for which you have applied. This may include assessing whether you are likely to leave Canada by the end of the temporary period authorized for your stay, whether you require a LMIA, whether you require permission from the Ministry of Immigration of Quebec if your position is in Quebec, your job offer appears genuine, whether you possess the qualifications for the position, whether the wage offered meets or exceeds prevailing wage, if required, or otherwise is consistent with your occupation and level of experience required for the position, whether there are any employment restrictions for your occupation and, if so, whether you possess a license or certificate from a competent Canadian authority permitting you to work in your occupation, whether your employer has not been found previously ineligible and remains ineligible, whether your employer has paid wages and offered working conditions to other foreign nationals as set out in their offers of employment to them, whether your employer is likely to be able to meet the terms and conditions of your job offer, whether your admission to Canada is likely to adversely affect the settlement of a labour dispute, whether you have engaged in unauthorized work or study in the past 6 months, whether the work is in a restricted occupation, whether you require an immigration medical examination and have received medical clearance, whether your admission is not contrary to any inter-provincial or federal-provincial agreements, or whether you are likely to comply with the terms and conditions of your work authorization such as only performing the type of work for the employer in the position, at the location and for the duration specified on the Work Permit. Other factors may also be considered by the Work Permit processing officer.

Almost anyone can apply for a Work Permit for Canada. However, there are some exceptions, including persons who have been statutorily barred from applying, such as persons who recently made a refugee claim and are either awaiting a decision or were recently refused, persons who are required by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to apply for and obtain Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC) before applying for a Work Permit, persons who have been found to have misrepresented on a prior application in the past 5 years, or persons who have worked or studies without authorization in the past 6 months.


What documents do I need to apply for a Work Permit for Canada?

Generally, all applicants require a valid passport or travel document that will be valid for the entire period of the intended period of work in Canada. Other required documentation will be dependent on the category of Work Permit for which you are applying, your country of origin or permanent residence, or the local visa office or VAC requirements. Supporting documentation may include: a LMIA, a job offer from a Canadian employer, letters of support from your Canadian employer, letters of reference from previous employers, proof of financial ability of your employer to pay you wages, proof of studies, proof of acceptance or admittance into a program of study, education records, work history records, national identification cards, proof of proof of a Canadian spouse or common-law partner, proof that you are the spouse or common-law partner of a foreign national who is authorized to work or study in Canada in certain circumstances and you otherwise meet the requirements of an eligible or qualified spouse or common-law partner, or other proof that you will comply with the temporary terms and conditions of your stay and you and your employer meet eligibility parameters of your category of Work Permit.

Additionally, applicants may also be required to provide biometrics, including fingerprinting and retinal eye scans, medical examination reports or police records checks.

Other documents may also be requested by the processing officer.

The list of documentation noted here is not intended to be exhaustive. It is recommended that you consult the document checklist for the visa office and with an immigration lawyer to determine what documents you may need to apply for a Work Permit for Canada.

Failure to provide all required documentation or information may result in the refusal of your application, a finding of not being truthful or forthright, a finding of misrepresentation, or another negative finding that may limit your ability to apply for or obtain a Work Permit or any other type of visa for Canada in the future.  


I was refused a Work Permit for Canada. Can I appeal the decision or apply again?

It is recommended that you consult with an immigration lawyer if you have been refused or denied a Work Permit to Canada.

Appealing a refusal: An application for a Work Permit made outside of Canada can be appealed or contested in at least two ways: by submitting a request for reconsideration to the visa office, or by initiating an Application for Leave and for Judicial Review (JR) in the Federal Court of Canada (FCC).

Reconsideration request: A request for reconsideration must usually be made directly to the processing office which refused the application or to Case Management Branch and must be made shortly after you receive the refusal decision. Delays in submitting a request for reconsideration may result in the request being ignored or the documentation upon which the decision was based being archived or destroyed. Furthermore, requests for reconsideration made after a long passage of time may result in the presumption of a change in circumstances and the information or documentation which was submitted may no longer be considered reliable or indicative of a person’s eligibility for the Work Permit.

Application for Leave and for Judicial Review: If the refusal decision was made outside of Canada, an Application for JR must usually be made within 60 days of receipt of the decision. If the refusal decision was made inside of Canada, an Application for JR must usually be made within 15 days of receipt of the decision.

Re-applying for a Work Permit: Persons who have been refused a Work Permit can also typically apply again with new or additional documentation or information at any time. There is typically no waiting period required by law.

However, there are some exceptions. Persons who have been found to have misrepresented are barred from applying for a visa for 5 years. Persons who have been found to have committed certain violations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) may be required to apply for and obtain Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC) before they may be permitted to apply for a visa to Canada. Persons who have been found criminally inadmissible to Canada may have to apply for and obtain Criminal Rehabilitation before they may be permitted to apply for a visa to Canada. Persons who have engaged in unauthorized work or study in Canada may be ineligible from applying for a Work Permit until a period of 6 months has passed since they have ceased their unauthorized work or study in Canada.


Do I need a Work Permit if I have a valid Visitor Record, Study Permit, or Temporary Resident Permit?

A Visitor Record, Study Permit, or Temporary Resident Permit does not authorize you to work in Canada. In most cases, persons need a Work Permit to work in Canada. Some exceptions include persons who are authorized by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations to work without a work permit or who meet the criteria of certain public policies permitting short-term work in professional, management or research positions.

An international student who possesses a Study Permit may be authorized to work, provided they also meet all the other requirements of the work-study program. If you are an international student who has a Study Permit and wish to work in Canada, it is recommended that you consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer before you begin working in Canada. Failure to work with proper authorization can have negative consequences on your ability to obtain a Work Permit or claim eligibility for certain Permanent Residency programs, such as Express Entry, in the future. Any periods of unauthorized work are excluded from the work experience requirement of the Canadian Experience Class permanent residency program, from the Canadian work experience factor in the Express Entry system, and from provincial nomination programs. Mandelbaum Immigration Lawyers can conduct an assessment for you to help you determine whether you are eligible to work in Canada without a Work Permit as an international student with a valid Study Permit.


Can you conduct a Work Permit assessment for me?

Mandelbaum Immigration Lawyers can conduct a Work Permit assessment for you. Simply provide us with your name, email address and phone number by filling out our comment card, or by emailing us at info@dmandelbaum.com, and our office will contact you to arrange a consultation with a lawyer.