The process for obtaining a Canadian work permit varies greatly. Above all, it depends on which type of work permit you seek.
In general, you need to apply for a work permit from outside Canada through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or a Canadian visa office.
- Firstly, you need to get a job offer from a Canadian employer before you apply
- Secondly, the employer must apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)
- Thirdly, ESDC will decide whether the employer can hire a foreign worker to fill the job.
Applicants for LMIA-exempt jobs still need to submit a variety of documentation to be granted entry to Canada. For more information, go to Working Temporarily in Canada on the IRCC website.
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If you are looking for a job, certain positions in Canada may require a person to know their National Occupation Classification Code (NOC Code). This code is used to classify all types of employment by Canadian standards.
As well, there are special work permits for some kinds of workers. For example, there are special work permit programs for caregivers, business people and agricultural workers.
General eligibility requirements to get Canada work permit
No matter where you apply, you must:
- 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 (IRCC may ask you to give a police clearance certificate),
- Not be a danger to Canada’s security,
- Be in good health and have a medical exam, if needed,
- Not plan to work for an employer listed with the status “ineligible” on the list of employers who failed to comply with the conditions,
- Not plan to work for an employer who, on a regular basis, offers for example striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages, and
- Give the officer any other documents they ask for to prove you can enter the country.
Types of Canada work permits
There are two general pathways for obtaining a Canadian work permit: a closed work permit and an open work permit.
Closed work permits are tied to specific employers. This means that you must remain working with the same employer at the same location your permit is changed. In contrast, open permit allows you to work with any employer anywhere in Canada.
Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP)
You may be eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP). BOWP is issued to bridge the gap between the expiry of the work permit and the final decision on your PR application.
To be eligible for a BOWP an applicant must:
- be currently in Canada
- have valid work permit that is due to expire within the next four months
- already have submitted application for permanent residence as main applicant
- have submitted an application for an open work permit which includes the processing fee.
Canada work permit Application processing stages
Canada work permit processing time completely depends on accuracy and completeness of your application. It can take between 2 weeks to 4 months approximately to process a Canadian work permit.
- Employer applies for Labour Market Impact Assessment
- Employer extends Temporary Job Offer
- Foreign Worker applies for Work Permit
- Work Permit is issued
Global Skills Strategy’s two-week application processing
However, you can start working in Canada faster through the Canada Global Skills Strategy. If you qualify, IRCC processes most eligible work permit applications within two weeks.
If you need an LMIA, you will qualify for two-week processing if you meet all of these requirements:
- you are applying from outside Canada
- you have a positive LMIA through the Global Talent Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. This will be on the LMIA decision letter
If you don’t need an LMIA, you will be eligible for two-week processing if you meet all of these requirements:
- you are applying from outside Canada
- your job is either skill type 0 (managerial) or skill level A (professional) in the National Occupational Classification system
- your employer has submitted an offer of employment using the government’s Employer Portal and also paid the employer compliance fee
To clarify, Express Entry International Experience Canada applicants are not eligible.
- Applications to Work in Canada: Work Permits – Application forms and instructions about how to apply from IRCC.
- Applying to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada – Worker (IMM 5553) – Information about who can apply for a work permit from inside Canada, and how to apply. From IRCC.