Work permit in Canada

About 470,000 foreigners have work permits for Canada in 2019, compared to 340,000 in 2017 and 390,000 in 2018.

a group of coworkers working together on a project.

Canada is a land of possibilities, and many people from all over the globe are interested in working there. But in order to work in Canada, you must first obtain a work permit. Are you thinking of working in Canada but don’t know how to start?

This guide will lead you through the process of getting a work permit in Canada. From finding out if you qualify to send in your application, this article will provide you with all the information you need to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

What are Canada work permit types?

There are several types of Canadian work permits that you can apply for depending on your situation:

  1. Employer-specific work permit: This type of work permit allows you to work for a single Canadian employer. Applying requires a valid job offer from a Canadian company.
  2. Open work permit: A work permit that is open allows you to work for any employer in Canada without needing a job offer. However, you must meet specific requirements in order to be eligible to apply for this type of work permit.
  3. International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit: This type of work permit is available to those between the ages of 18 and 35 from certain countries who want to both work and travel in Canada for a period of up to 2 years. It is part of the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, which offers three categories: Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op.
  4. Intra-Company Transfer work permit: This type of work permit is for employees of an overseas firm who are being moved to a Canadian branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the same company.
  5. NAFTA work permit: This work permit is for citizens of the United States or Mexico who are coming to work in Canada as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
  6. Agricultural worker program: This type of work permit is for agricultural laborers who come to Canada to work on Canadian farms during the harvest season.
  7. Caregiver program: This type of work permit is for individuals who are coming to the United States to work as caregivers for children, seniors, or people with disabilities.

Who is eligible to work in Canada?

In order to be employed in Canada, you must be either a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or have a valid work permit. 

Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) & International Mobility Program (IMP)

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and International Mobility Program (IMP) are two initiatives from the Canadian government that allow foreign individuals to work in Canada temporarily.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

When Canadians are unavailable for the position, TFWP permits Canadian firms to fill temporary labor needs by hiring foreign workers. Businesses and foreign workers must follow this program’s unique rules and restrictions.

Employers must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada to be authorized to hire a foreign worker (ESDC). A foreign worker should fill the position if neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident is qualified.

Also, foreign workers must apply for a work permit and fulfill requirements like education, work experience, language ability, and medical tests. The low-wage and high-wage streams are the two categories under the TFWP.

International Mobility Program (IMP)

Foreign nationals can enter Canada to work temporarily thanks to the IMP suite of applications, which eliminates the requirement for an LMIA. The IMP was established to aid Canada in achieving its cultural and economic goals. It consists of initiatives like:

  1.  International Experience Canada (IEC) program: Some foreign nationals can travel and work in Canada for up to two years.
  2.  Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) program: It enables global corporations to relocate staff to Canada temporarily.
  3. Global Talent Stream (GTS): By making it easier for employers to find top talent globally, it aims to draw highly trained workers to Canada.

What is the Global Skills Stream?

With the support of the Global Skills Stream initiative, Canadian firms will have quicker and more dependable access to the best personnel from abroad, allowing them to remain competitive in the global economy. IT, engineering, and highly skilled professionals are eligible for this fast-track work visa program.

Two categories of workers may apply for a work permit through the Global Skills Stream: 

  • Highly skilled workers hired for highly compensated roles in Canada fall under Category A.
  • Candidates in Category B are being sought after for positions in high demand in Canada and need specific knowledge.


Both the employer and the foreign employee must meet specific requirements to be eligible for the program, such as:

  • Provide proof of the employment offer.
  • Exceeding the required language proficiency minimum.
  • Having the necessary education
  • Work history relevant to the position


The program offers qualifying applicants a faster path to permanent residency. The work visa is typically provided for up to two years.

Employers in Canada can access the top foreign talent thanks to the Global Skills Stream. That makes Canada more appealing to highly trained workers around the world.

How to apply/obtain a work permit in Canada?

If you are an individual from a foreign country who wishes to work in Canada, you must acquire a Canadian work permit. Here are the general steps to take when applying for a Canadian work permit:

  1. Determine your eligibility: Be sure to satisfy the prerequisites for the kind of work permit you intend to request. Qualifying criteria may include factors such as your age, education, work background, language capabilities, and health.
  2. Obtain a job offer: In order to apply for a work permit that is specific to an employer, you must have a legitimate job offer from a Canadian employer. The employer must obtain a favorable Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) if necessary.
  3. Gather supporting documents: You will need to provide documents such as your passport, educational certificates, and proof of work experience.
  4. Complete the application form: Fill out the work permit application form and make sure you provide accurate and complete information.
  5. Pay the application fee: There is a cost associated with applying for a Canadian work permit. The amount of the fee varies based on the kind of work permit and the place where you submit your application.
  6. Submit the application: Once you have filled out the application form and collected all the necessary documents, submit your application to the designated visa office or through the online portal.
  7. Wait for a decision: It can take several weeks or even months to process an application for a Canadian work permit. During this time, the visa officer might need more information from you or might set up an interview with you.

If I Have A Canadian Job Offer, Am I Eligible To Apply For A Work Permit?

Remember that there is no assurance that your work visa application will be approved, even if you have a job offer and complete the eligibility requirements. You might be qualified to apply for an employer-specific work permit if a Canadian firm has offered you a position.

You must typically have a job offer from a Canadian employer that has acquired a favorable Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) or is excluded from the LMIA requirement to be qualified to apply for an employer-specific work visa.

Can I include my family on my work permit application?

Yes, you can list your family members on your work visa application in some scenarios.

Your spouse or partner (if any) and any dependent children may be permitted to join you in Canada and attend school there if you are seeking a working visa that an employer supports and the job offer is for a skilled position.

How can I include my spouse and my children on my work permit application?

If you wish to have your partner and dependent children included on your work permit application, you can indicate this on the form. You will need to provide their information, such as their full name, date of birth, and how they are related to you.

If your spouse or children also need a visa to enter Canada, they must apply for a temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization (ETA) on their own. You can submit their visa applications with yours, or they can complete the process online at a later date.

How much does it cost to get a work permit?

Here are some general guidelines for the fees associated with Canadian work permits:

  1. Employer-specific work permits: The processing fee for an employer-specific work permit is CAD 155.
  2. Open work permits: The processing fee for an open work permit is CAD 100.
  3. International Experience Canada (IEC) work permits: The fee for an IEC work permit is CAD 255.


There may be additional fees for biometric information (CAD 85 per person) or a medical exam (costs vary depending on the country) with all these permits.

What Documents are Required to Apply for a Canadian Work Permit?

  1. A valid passport or travel document
  2. A job offer letter
  3. Proof of education and/or work experience
  4. Copy of Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
  5. Biometrics for Canadian work permits
  6. Medical exam for Canadian work permit
  7. Police clearances for Canadian work permits
  8. A completed application form
  9. Application fee
  10. Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  11. Evidence of financial means

What is the processing time of a work permit application?

A Canadian work permit application may be processed in a few weeks or several months. For instance, a conventional work permit application typically takes 2 to 4 months, whereas a Global Talent Stream work visa application may take 2 weeks.

Reasons A Work Permit Application is Refused

There are several reasons why a work permit application may be refused by Canadian immigration authorities. Here are some common reasons:

  • Inadmissibility: If an individual is deemed to be ineligible to enter Canada due to criminal or medical problems, or any other reason, their application for a work permit may be denied.
  • Insufficient documentation: If an applicant doesn’t give all the required paperwork to back up their work permit request, or if the documents given are not full or exact, their application may be denied.
  • Failure to meet eligibility requirements: If an applicant does not fulfill the criteria necessary for the kind of work permit they are trying to obtain, their application could be denied.
  • Labour market concerns: If the Canadian government determines that there are enough Canadian workers available to fill the job position, they may deny an application for a work permit.
  • Security concerns: If an applicant is deemed to be a security risk or a threat to Canadian society, their application may be refused.
  • Financial concerns: If an applicant does not have enough money to support themselves and their family while in Canada, their application may be refused.

What is LMIA?

LMIA is required for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is for employers to certify to the Government of Canada that hiring foreign workers will not adversely affect Canada’s existing workforce. The Federal Department of Employment and Social Development (ESDC) aims to ensure that the hiring of foreign workers does not crowd out existing Canadian workers or put downward pressure on wages.

Free trade agreements such as the former North American Free Trade Agreement, which is now known as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, or CUSMA, have resulted in a variety of LMIA-exempt work permits. Foreign workers can apply for a work permit through these free trade agreements without their employer needing an LMIA. Working holidays, post-graduate work permits, and open spousal work permits are among the options available to foreign workers who do not yet have a job offer in addition to these employer-sponsored work permits. The International Mobility Program (IMP) covers workers who do not require an LMIA.

LMIA applications should show the following:

  • Efforts made to recruit available Canadian citizens/permanent residents
  • Wages offered for the position are consistent with the prevailing wage rate paid to Canadians/permanent residents in the same occupation in the region
  • Working conditions for the occupation meets the current provincial labour market standards
  • Any potential benefits that hiring a foreign worker might bring to the Canadian labour market, such as the creation of new jobs or the transfer of skills and knowledge
  • Transition plans will be required for high-wage positions whereby employers must demonstrate increased efforts to hire Canadians in the long-term.


The LMIA process is different depending on  Skill level for  “high-wage” or “low-wage” workers.  ​

What is the processing time of a LMIA application?

Canada aims to process LMIA applications within 10 business days of receiving a complete application. However, the actual processing time can take longer depending on the complexity of the application, the accuracy and completeness of the submitted documents, and the volume of applications being processed.

an airplane flying immigrants to Canada with the help of Immigration consultant in Canada

How Can I Check the Status of My Work Permit Application?

You can use the Canadian government’s online application tracking system to stay up to date on your application progress. You will need your application number, as well as your name, date of birth, and passport number to access the system. This information is usually given to you when you submit your work permit application.

employees who got a work permit in Canada working together

LMIA exempt work permit

Most Canadian work permits require an LMIA, or Labor Market Impact Assessment. Some employers skip the LMIA document retrieval process as it can be time consuming. Luckily, there are some work permits in Canada that are not covered by her LMIA.

Employers are often required to apply for an LMIA before hiring foreign workers in Canada. A positive LMIA (also known as a Letter of Confirmation) indicated that the employer had unsuccessfully tried to recruit a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for the position and had to hire a foreign national. Most Canadian work permits require foreign applicants to provide a copy of a positive LMIA along with their LMIA number.

Significant benefit

This exemption is available if the employer can demonstrate that it brings significant social, cultural or economic benefits to Canada.

For example:

Reciprocal employment

Entrepreneurs & self-employed

Intra-company transferees

French-speaking skilled workers

International trade agreements

International youth exchange programs

Minister-designated exemptions

Open work Permit Canada

An Open Work Permit allows foreigners to do any job in Canada without restrictions and without an LMIA.

Foreign spouses/domestic partners of temporary foreign workers, international students, and spouses/domestic partners sponsored by domestic spouse/domestic partner sponsorship are eligible to apply for an Open Work Permit.

International students may also apply for an open work permit under the Graduate Work Permit Program.
International Experience Canada (IEC) candidates in the Working Holiday category are also eligible for an Open Work Permit.

Bridging Open Work Permit Canada

The bridging open work permit (BOWP) is a way to keep a worker in Canada working while his or her application for permanent residence is being processed.  

In-Canada applicants who have made an application to immigrate to Canada under either the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Class, the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) Class, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or one of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) may be considered for a bridging open work permit if their current work permit is due to expire (within four months). A foreign worker legally working in Canada who has made, or will soon make, an application for permanent residence under one of these immigration programs may then continue to work until a decision is made on his or her application for permanent residence.

Work authorization

In general, foreign nationals must have a valid work permit (work permit or work permit waiver) to work in Canada.

Types of work authorization:

  1. Work Permit (Closed)- Employer specific based upon approved LMIA supported job offer

[Canada Global Talent Search – Category A, Category-B needs a Labour market benefit plan from the employer (Re: Global Talent Stream Occupation List ]

 [LMIA: Labour Market Impact Assessment, is an approval of the Canadian government to hire a foreign worker] 

  1. Work Permit (open: work for any employer) [ LMIA Exempted]

Airline personnel (operational, technical and ground personnel) -Exemption Code T11

Intra-company transferee: T24, T44, T51, C12*

Emergency repair or repair personnel for out-of-warranty equipment C13

Television and film production workers C14

Caregiver (with PR application) C90

Entrepreneurs: Self-employed or potential provincial nominee as an entrepreneur C11

Intra Company transferee (GATS) C12*

Permanent resident facilitation work permit categories A75 

(Bridging Open Work Permits)

International Experience Canada Program C21

Performing arts C23

Post Grad Work Permit C43

Spouse of workers C41

Spouse of students C42

Religious work C50

  • Spouse in Canada class: A70

 iii. International Experience Class [IEC]

      [Canada Holiday Working Visa]

** ​Work without a permit

​The occupations are:

​Athletes and team members

Aviation accident or incident inspector

Business visitor

Civil aviation inspector


Convention organizers


Emergency service providers

Examiners and evaluators

Expert witnesses or investigators

Foreign government officers

Foreign representatives and Family members of foreign representatives

Health care students

Implied status

Judges, referees and similar officials

Military personnel

News reporters, media crews

On-campus employment and some Off-campus work

Performing artists

Public speakers.


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