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Canada Temporary Work Permit

  • Each year, close to 200,000 foreign skilled workers come to work in Canada on Temporary Work Permits.

  • In order to work in Canada on a temporary basis, foreign skilled workers must have a temporary offer of employment from a Canadian employer and be granted a Temporary Work Permit by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). There are several steps to this process.

    • Before a Canada Work Permit can be issued, the Canadian employer who wishes to hire temporary foreign workers may need to apply for and be granted a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) by ESDC. ESDC will grant a positive LMIA if they are satisfied that there is no Canadian worker available to do the job.

      Work Permits may be issued by Canadian immigration officials without the LMIA requirement in a limited number of situations, as follows:
      • Under international agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA);
      • Due to the significant economic, social or cultural benefits the work activity will bring to Canadians;
      • As part of reciprocal agreements Canada and its provinces/territories have entered into with other countries, such as youth and teacher exchange programs;
      • So that international students studying in Canada can fulfill academic requirements, known as co-op placements;
      • To allow the spouses/common-law partners of Work Permit and certain Study Permit holders in Canada to work in Canada;
      • Because the nature of the work is charitable or religious;
      • 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.
    • Once the LMIA is granted, the Canadian employer can provide a temporary job offer to the foreign skilled worker. The employer must send a copy of the positive LMIA along with a detailed job offer letter to the foreign skilled worker. 
    • With these documents, the foreign skilled worker can apply to ESDC for a Canada Temporary Work Permit. If the Canadian employer that is hiring is in the province of Quebec, the foreign skilled worker may also need to obtain a Certificat d'acceptation du Québec (CAQ) in order to work temporarily in Quebec.
    • A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer will issue the Canada Temporary Work Permit at the point of entry when the foreign worker arrives in Canada.  

Depending upon the foreign worker's country of citizenship, a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) may also need to be obtained in order to enter Canada.

Note: The province of Quebec has unique regulations and processes covering temporary work permits. Read more about temporary work permits for work in Quebec.

Work Permit Services Do you have a Canadian job offer and need a Work Permit?

  • In almost all cases, individuals with a job offer from a Canadian employer must secure a Temporary Work Permit to perform work in Canada.

A Temporary Work Permit may be issued for a period of time ranging from a few days to a few years. The process of applying for a Work Permit is twofold. First, the Canadian employer must receive government permission to hire outside of Canada. Once this permission has been granted, the designated employee(s) must apply for and receive their Work Permit(s).

A Work Permit granted for a specific job in Canada will be tied to that job. This means that an employee may only work for the employer specified on their Work Permit. If they find different employment, they must apply for and receive a new Work Permit before performing another job in Canada.

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.

Work Permit Services Are you a Canadian employer who needs to obtain Work Permits for new employees?

  • Campbell Cohen's Work Permit Service can take care of the entire Work Permit process for both Canadian employers and foreign workers.

Note that a Canada Temporary Work Permit is for those foreign skilled 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 immigration process.
However, a Temporary Work Permit may be a stepping stone to Canadian Permanent Residency. Once in Canada on a Temporary Work Permit, a foreign worker may qualify for Canadian immigration (Permanent Residency) under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), through a Skilled Worker category, or through one of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).

Work in Canada – Basic Facts
  • For Canadian immigration purposes, "work" is defined as an activity for which remuneration is earned or as an activity that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents in the Canadian labour market.
  • Canadian immigration authorities require a Work Permit for a limited number of work related activities in Canada.
  • A job offer from a Canadian employer is usually a prerequisite to receiving a Canadian Work Permit.
  • In some instances, Canadian immigration regulations allow for "Open" Work Permits, which are not employer specific.
  • Work Permits are always temporary in nature, but can often be extended from inside Canada.
  • Normally, Work Permits will only be granted by Canadian immigration authorities if supported by a positive "Labour Market Impact Assessment" (LMIA) letter issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), indicating that the proposed employment will not adversely affect Canadian workers.

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