Work in Canada

Whether you are a Canadian employer looking to hire a foreign worker, or a foreign worker seeking to enter the Canadian labour market, our working in Canada section will help you navigate the complex world of Canadian work permits.

How to Apply for a Canadian Work Permit

Typically, obtaining a Canadian work permit is a two-step process.  In most cases, applicants will first require a job offer before they can apply for a Canadian work permit.

Step 1

In the vast majority of cases, the first step towards obtaining a Canadian work permit is to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Usually, the Canadian employer must undertake domestic recruitment efforts and demonstrate that no Canadian permanent residents or citizens are qualified for the position at hand.

Step 2

After a positive LMIA has been issued, the applicant can apply for a Canadian work permit on that basis.

Work permits are employer specific, unless a worker has an open work permit.  If a worker wants to change employers, they must obtain a new Work Permit before performing another job in Canada.  Canadian work permits are also limited in duration.

We take care of the entire Canadian Work Permit process for both Canadian employers and temporary foreign workers.

Work Permit Duration

All Canadian work permits have an expiry date.  The only way to work in Canada permanently, or for an unspecified length of time, is to acquire permanent resident status.

The Canadian government puts limits on the length of Canadian work permits as well as the accumulated length of time that non-Canadians can work in Canada. The total number of months individuals may work in Canada—whether worked consecutively or with gaps between permits—is 48, or four years total.

Once the maximum of four years work has been accumulated, foreign workers will have to leave Canada and remain outside of the country for at least 48 months (4 years) before being eligible to work in Canada again.

Open Work Permit Canada

An open work Permit differs from a regular work permit in that it does not specify a particular job or employer. Generally, the job and employer are both indicated on Canadian Work Permits, thereby restricting the holder to those circumstances while in Canada. An Open Work Permit allows its holder to work for any Canadian employer, in almost any capacity.

Open Work Permits do not require the applicant to have either an offer of employment or a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

As per Canadian immigration regulations, Open Work Permits may be applied for by:

  • Spouses or common-law partners of temporary foreign workers in a level 0, A or B occupation, according to the National Occupation Classification (NOC);
  • The spouses or common-law partners of foreign students engaged in full-time study;
  • International students who have recently graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution

Canadian Work Permit Exemption

You may qualify for a Canadian work permit exemption in one of the following circumstances:

  • Foreign representatives.
  • Family members of foreign representatives
  • Athletes and team members
  • Performing artists
  • News reporters, media crews
  • Public speakers
  • Convention organizers
  • Business Visitors
  • Clergy
  • Judges, referees and similar officials
  • Examiners and evaluators
  • Expert witnesses or investigators
  • Foreign government officers
  • Health care students
  • Civil aviation inspector
  • Transportation Crew
  • Aviation accident or incident inspector
  • On-campus employment
  • Military personnel
  • Implied Status

Post Graduation Work Permit

A Post-Graduation Work Permit may be granted to international students who have completed their post-secondary education in Canada. This affords international students the opportunity to acquire Canadian work experience and form important employment networks.

If you have completed your studies at an eligible Canadian post-secondary institution, in an eligible program, you can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit.  Post-Graduation Work Permits enable international graduates to undertake paid employment in Canada for any employer.

A Post-Graduation Work Permit is not employer-specific (it is an “open” work permit), and provides greater employment flexibility for recent graduates than a work permit that must undergo labour market verification.  A Post-Graduation Work Permit enables international graduates to work for any Canadian employer, in any industry, in any province or territory.  International graduates may qualify for a Post-Graduation Work Permit with a maximum possible duration of three years, depending on the length of the corresponding academic program.  Candidates seeking a Post-Graduation Work Permit are not required to have a Canadian job offer when the application is submitted.

The eligibility criteria for a Post-Graduation Work Permit includes:

  • Completion of a full-time study program of at least eight months duration
  • You must have graduated from:
    • a post-secondary educational institution (university, college, or CEGEP) that is PUBLIC; or
    • a post-secondary educational institution operating under the same rules and regulations as public institutions but is PRIVATE; at least 50% of its operation financing must come from government grants; or
    • an authorized Canadian private educational institution eligible to confer degrees.
  • Apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation from your academic institution that you have met program requirements.
  • Successful completion of study – written notification that you are eligible to obtain your degree, diploma, or certificate must be obtained.
  • You must possess a valid study permit when you apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit.

It is important to note that in order to obtain a three-year Post-Graduation Work Permit your academic program must have a minimum duration of two years.   If an academic program is more than eight months but less than two years, you may be eligible to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit for the same duration of your program of study.

If, within two years of having previously completed an accredited academic program, you receive a one-year degree or diploma from an accredited educational institution, you may qualify for a three-year open work permit.

An exception can be made if you fulfill all requirements, but your last semester of study was not full-time.  In such cases, you may still apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit.

The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program is a well-known precursor to the Canadian Experience Class.