You will need to apply for a work permit if you are not a Canadian Permanent Resident or a Canadian Citizen and you want to work in Canada. There are limited circumstances in which work in Canada is permitted without a permit.
There are numerous categories or provisions by which a foreign worker can seek a work permit in Canada. However, these usually fall within one of several general classifications that can be used to better understand the procedures. These are:
- Work in Canada subject to a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or ESDC Confirmation
- International Treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA), or the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
- Situations in which there is evidence of Canadian Interests or Significant Benefit to Canada, including intra-company transfers, spousal programs, and other circumstances in which there is a social, cultural, or economic benefit to Canada
- Youth Program visas such as the Student Work Away Program, Student Work Holiday Program, and others conducted through organizations such as BUNAC, SWAP, and IEC
Work Permits are always temporary, but often be extended from inside Canada. A Work Permit usually contains specific terms and conditions, including the start and end dates of the employment, the name of the employer, the location of employment, and the job title. If the Foreign National does not abide by the terms and conditions set out in the Work Permit, the Foreign National may be prosecuted and/or asked to leave Canada. The employer may also receive disciplinary action or face charges.
Extend Work Permit Status / Stay / Record
You must extend your work permit status if one or more of the following situations apply:
- The worker’s job is extended or changed. In these cases, foreign workers must immediately apply to extend or change the conditions of their current work permit before the permit expires.
- The worker is offered a different job in Canada. In these cases, a worker must apply for a completely new work permit and cannot start their new job without a new work permit.
- The worker wants to live and work in Canada permanently. In these cases, the worker must apply under one of Canada’s permanent residence categories.
- The worker wants to leave Canada and then re-enter: When work permit holders leave Canada, they will be allowed to arrange the extension of their work permit status. This will allow the holder to resume work when he/she returns to Canada. When the worker returns to Canada, one of the following things will happen:
- If the work permit extension is still being processed, the worker will be allowed to enter Canada as a visitor until the processing is complete. The worker will NOT be allowed to work until the extension is accepted.
- If the permit extension has been accepted, the worker will be allowed to re-enter Canada and work immediately. If the extension was rejected or not arranged for, the worker will have to apply for a completely new work permit to work in Canada again.
Spousal Open Work Permit
In most cases, your spouse or common-law partner can work in Canada. However, they will usually need a work permit to work in Canada. They must apply for their own work permit. In some cases, your spouse or common-law partner may be able to apply for an open work permit—allowing him or her to accept any job with any employer. In other cases, your spouse or common-law partner must apply for a work permit for a specific employer. The employer may have to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). An LMIA allows an employer to hire someone for a specific job.