How can I work in Canada?

How can I work in Canada?

If you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and want to work in Canada, there are different types of work permits that the Canadian government offers to foreigners so they can work legally in Canada.

Before we analyze the types of work permit, there are situations where foreigners are allowed by law to work without a work permit.

When am I not required to have a Work Permit?

Some foreign workers are allowed to work in Canada without a work permit based on provisions of the Immigration Refugee Protection Act, the Immigration Refugee Protection Regulation, and International Agreements.

The IRCC (Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada) website has a list of these exceptions. It is important to mention that every single one of them has its definitions and requirements in order to be considered an activity and/or situation that allows the foreign to work without a work permit. You must always make sure your particular situation applies to the exception before start working.

• Athlete or coach
• Aviation accident or incident investigator
• Business visitor
• Civil aviation inspector
• Clergy
• Convention organizer
• Crew member
• Emergency service provider
• Examiner and evaluator
• Expert witness or investigator
• Family member of foreign representative
• Foreign government officer or representative
• Health care student
• Judge, referee or similar official
• Military personnel
• News reporter or film and media crew
• Producer or staff member working on advertisements
• Performing artist
• Public speaker
• Short-term highly-skilled worker
• Short-term researcher
• Student working off-campus
• Student working on-campus

If a foreign worker is not listed within the exceptions above, it is necessary to obtain a work permit before working in Canada.

In general, you need to apply for a work permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or a Canadian visa office before you come to Canada.

There are two types of work permits:

An open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada, except for an employer who is listed as ineligible or who regularly offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages.

You can only apply for an open work permit in specific situations:

• Permanent residence applicants who have applied to an office in Canada,
• Dependent family members of some permanent residence applicants,
• Spouses and common-law partners of some workers,
• Spouses and common-law partners of some international students,
• Some young workers participating in special programs,
• Refugees, refugee claimants, protected persons and their family members, or
• Some temporary resident permit holders.

In each of these situations, you must meet additional criterias to be eligible.


An employer-specific work permit allows you to work according to the conditions on your work permit, which include:

• the name of the employer you can work for,
• how long you can work, and
• the location where you can work

In order to apply for an employer-specific work permit, your employer must get a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before you submit your application.

An LMIA is a document from Employment and Social Development Canada/Service Canada that allows an employer to hire a foreign worker through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The employer must demonstrate that there is this need because after proven efforts to hire Canadians and/or permanent residents, could not fill that position.

You can only apply for an employer specific work permit after your employer gives you a copy of the positive LMIA and your job offer letter or contract.

Independent of if it is an open work permit or an employer specific work permit, everyone applying must meet the general eligibility requirements for a work permit.

What are the general eligibility requirements for a work permit?

• prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your work permit expires,
• show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada and to return home,
• obey the law and have no record of criminal activity
• not be a danger to Canada’s security,
• be in good health and pass a medical exam, if needed.

Not sure what applies to you? Have questions? Contact us at                      for more information or to discuss your situation.

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