Canada's economic success is good for business, it is also creating challenges for employers who are struggling to find enough workers to meet demand. With its record low unemployment rate, Canada, today more than ever, must rely on foreign
Generally, Canadian employers wishing to employ a foreign worker in Canada must first obtain authorization from Employment and
Social Development Canada (ESDC), otherwise known as a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Canadian employers must
demonstrate that employing a foreign worker will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labour market in most cases, and that
there is currently no Canadian citizen or permanent resident available to fill the position. This is typically accomplished by advertising
the position on several venues, thus demonstrating there was no suitable Canadian for the job. A LMIA is a very rigorous and
comprehensive process that is subject to a high level of scrutiny from the government, and thus must be completed without errors.
Although the LMIA process is the rule, there are a number of LMIA-exempt work permits, resulting from Foreign Trade
Agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA, that enable foreign workers to apply for a work permit
without the Canadian employer having to obtain a LMIA. In addition to these employer sponsored work permits, there are a
number of work permit options available to foreign workers who do not yet have a job offer, including working holidays, postgraduate
work permits, and open spousal work permits
Types of Canadian Work Permits
These are just some of the work scenarios and situations that take place in Canada.
LMIA-based work permits:
These work permits require the employer to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment as
part of the process.
Certain circumstances allow for individuals to work in Canada without first obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment.
CUSMA Work Permits
These permits are issued under the Canada-United-States-Mexico Agreement (formerly North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA), allowing work without an LMIA.
These permits will allow a company to bring certain employees to Canada from its offices abroad without a LMIA.
In many cases, business visitors may work in Canada without a work permit, so long as they don't enter the Canadian labour market.
Post-Graduation Work Permits
After graduating from a designated Canadian educational institution, international graduates
may work in Canada for up to three years.
Although there are some exceptions, as a general rule, foreign workers require a work permit to work in Canada on a
temporary basis. Obtaining a Canadian temporary work permit is a multi-step process that can take several weeks.
There are a number of different ways to secure a work permit. Depending on one's nationality, occupation, and
intended work in Canada, there may be possibilities for expediting the process.
Each year, nearly 300,000 foreign workers come to work in Canada on Temporary Work Permits.
Step 1: Employer applies for Labour Market Impact Assessment,if necessary.
Canadian employers who wish to hire temporary foreign worker must obtain a neutral or positive Labour Market
Impact Assessment (LMIA) from ESDC, which is issued if ESDC is satisfied that there is no Canadian citizen
or permanent resident available to do the job.
Further, if the Canadian employer is hiring for a position located in the province of Quebec, the foreign worker
will need to obtain a Quebec Certificate of Acceptation for studies (CAQ) in order to work temporarily in
Quebec. The CAQ application will have to be submitted to Quebec's Ministère de l'Immigration, Francisation et
de l'Intégration (MIFI) at the same time as the LMIA is submitted to ESDC.
ESDC and MIFI have made available to employers a streamlined LMIA process to fill selected positions in
Quebec without having to include proof of recruitment efforts.
In a limited number of situations foreign workers may obtain a work permit without the need for a LMIA. These
work permits are typically referred to as LMIA Exempt Work Permits and include the following:
· International agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Comprehensive
Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), or Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific
- As a result of significant economic, social or cultural benefits to Canadians;
- As a result of reciprocal agreements Canada and its provinces/territories have entered into with
other countries, such as youth and teacher exchange programs;
- To allow international students studying in Canada to fulfill academic requirements known as coop
- To allow the accompanying spouses/common-law partners of certain work permit and study
permit holders residing in Canada to work in Canada;
- To allow for charitable or religious work;
- In recognition that certain persons in Canada for reasons other than the above-mentioned, such as the
making of a refugee claim, need to support themselves
- Certain permanent residence applicants in Canada;
- Certain migrant workers and their dependents in Canada on employer-specific work permits who are
experiencing abuse, or who are at risk of abuse.
Step 2: Employer extends Temporary Job Offer.
Once a positive or neutral LMIA is granted, the Canadian employer must provide a copy of the LMIA approval
letter along with a detailed job offer letter to the foreign worker, who will need those documents to apply for a
Step 3: Foreign Worker applies for Work Permit.
With the LMIA approval letter, the job offer letter (and the CAQ if applicable), the foreign worker can submit
an application for a Canadian temporary work permit to IRCC. Depending on their country of citizenship, the
foreign worker may need to obtain a TRV to travel to Canada, and would therefore need to submit the
temporary work permit application at a Canadian visa office abroad.
Step 4: Work Permit is issued.
The Canadian temporary work permit, will be issued at the point of entry by a Canada Border Services Agency
(CBSA) officer at the time the foreign worker arrives in Canada.
A temporary work permit may be issued for a period of time ranging from a few days to a few years.
Most Canadian work permits are employer specific, otherwise referred to as “closed” work permits, and are
granted for a specific job in Canada. Consequently, a foreign worker may only work for the employer specified
on the work permit. As such, if the foreign worker finds a different employment and does not yet have
permanent resident status, the foreign worker must apply for and receive a new work permit prior to changing
employers or their position in Canada.
Note that a Canadian Temporary Work Permit is for those foreign workers who plan on working in Canada for
a finite period of time. To work and live in Canada on a permanent basis, foreign workers must undertake the
Canadian Permanent residence process. However, a temporary work permit may be a stepping stone to
Canadian permanent residence. Once in Canada on a temporary work permit, a foreign worker may qualify for
Canadian permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), through a Skilles Worker category,
or through one of the Provincial Nominee Programs.
Work in Canada : Basic Facts
For Canadian immigration purposes the definition of "work" is very broad and is defined as an activity
for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian
citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market, no matter the duration of the intended
· Generally, Canadian immigration authorities will grant a work permit only if supported by a LMIA
approval letter issued by ESDC, indicating that the proposed employment will not adversely affect
· In most cases a job offer from a Canadian employer is required to apply for a Canadian Work Permit.
· In limited situations, Canadian immigration regulations allow for Open Work Permits, which are not
· A work permit is always temporary in nature, but can often be extended from inside Canada.
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Canada allows for the transfer of certain employees (executives, senior managers and specialized knowledge workers) to the Canadian branch, subsidiary or affiliate of an international company, without the involvement of HRSDC.An applicant may apply for the work permit in advance at any Canadian Visa Office. Alternatively, the foreign worker may apply for the permit at a Canadian Port of Entry. Also, if the foreign worker is in Canada as a Visitor, a work permit application can be filed within Canada.Initial work permits for Transferees will be valid for at most three years. Transferees entering Canada to open or work in a new office will be granted permits valid for up to one year.
A person or company wishing to operate a business in Canada has a choice of several business structures. The appropriate structure depends on several factors including the nature and location of the business, liability and general issues of exposure, the entity’s financing requirements, and tax considerations.
Canada is one of the most family-friendly countries in the world. Its immigration policies have been design to provide maximum benefit to immigrants and under the new family immigration process, you can actually move to the country with your entire family at a very inexpensive price.