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Canada – Work Permits and Working Legally

Necessity of Work Permits for Expats in Canada

Working legally in Canada as an expat often requires obtaining a work permit. These permits are essential for foreign nationals who wish to be employed within the country. Understanding the process and requirements for obtaining a work permit is crucial for expats seeking employment in Canada.

Who Must Submit the Application?

In Canada, the process of obtaining a work permit involves the expat employee and, in some cases, their prospective employer. While the employer may need to provide certain documents and information to support the application, the primary responsibility for the work permit application lies with the expat employee.

Exemptions from Work Permits

Canada has specific exemptions and simplified procedures for certain categories of individuals. Some potential exemptions or special categories may include:

  • Open Work Permits: Some foreign nationals, such as the spouses or common-law partners of temporary residents, may be eligible for open work permits, allowing them to work for any employer in Canada without a specific job offer.
  • NAFTA Professionals: Certain professionals from the United States and Mexico may benefit from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which allows them to work in Canada without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
  • Post-Graduation Work Permits: International students who have completed a program of study at a designated learning institution in Canada may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit.

It is essential for expats to verify the specific exemptions and eligibility criteria with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or seek legal advice to ensure compliance with immigration policies.


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Types of Work Permits for Expats in Canada

Canada offers various types of work permits to accommodate different categories of expat workers. Some common work permits include:

  • Temporary Work Permit: This permit is suitable for expats planning to work in Canada temporarily, typically for a specific job or project.
  • LMIA-Based Work Permit: In cases where a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is required, employers may sponsor expat employees for specific positions.
  • International Mobility Program (IMP) Work Permit: The IMP allows expats to work in Canada without the need for an LMIA in certain situations, such as through international agreements or reciprocal agreements with other countries.
  • Open Work Permit: Open work permits allow foreign nationals to work for any employer in Canada and are typically issued to individuals in specific categories, such as spouses or common-law partners of temporary residents.

The eligibility criteria, application requirements, and the duration of permits can vary depending on the type of work permit. expats should consult the IRCC website or seek legal advice to determine the most suitable permit for their situation.

Procedure to Apply for a Work Permit in Canada

The process to apply for a work permit in Canada typically involves the following steps:

  1. Job Offer: expats seeking employment in Canada must secure a job offer from a Canadian employer. The job offer is a crucial first step in the process.
  2. Employer Support: In some cases, the Canadian employer may need to obtain a positive LMIA, which confirms that hiring a foreign worker will not negatively impact the Canadian labor market. The employer may also need to provide a valid job offer and support the work permit application.
  3. Application Submission: expat employees must submit their work permit application, along with the required documents and fees, either online or through a Visa Application Centre (VAC) in their home country.
  4. Biometrics and Medical Examination: Depending on the applicant’s nationality and the nature of the work, biometrics (fingerprints and photographs) and a medical examination may be required.
  5. Processing Time: Work permit processing times can vary based on the type of permit and the volume of applications. It is advisable to check the current processing times provided by IRCC.
  6. Visa Issuance: Once the work permit is approved, the expat employee may receive a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction, which is presented to Canadian immigration authorities upon arrival.

It’s essential to prepare a comprehensive application and ensure all required documents are included to avoid delays or rejections. expats should refer to the IRCC website for detailed instructions and forms related to work permit applications.

Documents Required for a Work Permit in Canada

When applying for a work permit in Canada, expats generally need to provide the following documents:

  • Valid Passport: A copy of the passport bio page and any previous passports.
  • Job Offer Letter: A detailed job offer letter from a Canadian employer, including information about the position, salary, and terms of employment.
  • LMIA or LMIA Exemption Documents: If an LMIA is required, a copy of the positive LMIA or documents supporting an LMIA exemption.
  • Application Forms: Completed work permit application forms, which can be obtained from the IRCC website.
  • Biometrics and Medical Exam Proof: If applicable, evidence of completed biometrics and a medical examination.
  • Photographs: Recent passport-sized photographs that meet IRCC’s specifications.
  • Proof of Funds: Evidence that the expat has sufficient funds to support themselves and any accompanying family members during their stay in Canada.
  • Criminal Background Check: A police clearance certificate or criminal background check from the expat’s home country or any country where they have lived for six or more months since turning 18.

It is crucial to ensure that all documents are up to date and meet the specific requirements outlined by IRCC. Incomplete or inaccurate documentation can result in delays or denials.

Costs Involved in Applying for a Work Permit in Canada

Applying for a work permit in Canada involves various costs that expats should be aware of:

  • Work Permit Processing Fee: The primary cost is the processing fee for the work permit application. The fee amount may vary based on the type of work permit, processing location, and whether the application is submitted online or through a VAC.
  • Biometrics Fee: If biometrics are required, there is an additional fee for fingerprinting and photographing, which can vary by nationality.
  • Visa Application Fee: Depending on the applicant’s nationality, additional visa fees may apply.
  • Medical Examination Fees: If a medical examination is required, there will be associated costs.
  • Police Clearance Certificate Fees: Obtaining a police clearance certificate may incur additional expenses.

It’s essential to budget for these expenses when planning to work in Canada as an expat. Applicants should check the latest fee schedule with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or the Canadian consulate or embassy in their home country for accurate cost information.

Reliable Sources for Information on Working Legally in Canada

Expats seeking reliable information on working legally in Canada can refer to the following sources:

  1. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC): The official website of IRCC is a comprehensive resource for immigration, visas, and work permits. It provides up-to-date information, application forms, and guides.
  2. Canadian Consulates and Embassies: The nearest Canadian consulate or embassy in the expat’s home country can provide guidance, application forms, and assistance in the work permit application process.
  3. Legal and Immigration Experts: Consulting with immigration lawyers or experts experienced in Canadian immigration law can offer personalized guidance and support throughout the work permit application process.

Staying informed about the latest immigration policies and requirements is crucial, as they can change over time. expats should rely on official government sources and seek professional advice when necessary to navigate the complexities of obtaining a work permit in Canada.


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