If you’re planning to immigrate to Canada and you’re not currently a Canadian citizen, you might be wondering if it’s possible to obtain a Canadian work permit while you wait for your permanent residency application to be processed.
The answer is yes—if you qualify. To get your work permit, you’ll need to apply at the office of your visa officer who reviews all immigration applications from outside Canada.
Requirements for Canadian work permit
A Canadian work permit is needed for any foreign national who wishes to work in Canada. It allows them to legally work in Canada, on a temporary basis, for one specific employer.
It is not required for citizens of countries that have reciprocal agreements with Canada (i.e., Americans, Brits and most Europeans).
Before applying for a work permit, an applicant must have already secured a job offer from an employer willing to sponsor them.
The employer will be responsible for providing you with all of your necessary documents as well as filing all necessary paperwork with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
The following are general requirements to apply for a Canadian work permit:
There are two types of permits available under CIC’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program: Labour Market Impact Assessment-based (LMIA) or exempt.
Step 1: Find out if you qualify
Before you can get a Canadian work permit, you need to first make sure that you qualify. There are some very specific criteria that must be met before your application will be accepted by immigration officials and these vary depending on your situation.
For example, if you have friends or family living in Canada, you may qualify for an exemption under one of Canada’s immigration policies which would allow you to work without getting an official work permit.
To find out if one of these exemptions might apply to your situation, consult with a lawyer or contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada directly at 1-888-242-2100 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 2: Gather your documents
The first step in obtaining a Canadian work permit is to gather your documents and apply online.
According to CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada), these are your required documents: proof of education, letter from your employer, passport photo, police certificate, original birth certificate or baptismal record.
The most important document you’ll need is your passport. Without it you won’t be able to book an appointment with immigration officials at their local office.
If you have any trouble or confusion when booking an appointment via the CIC website make sure you contact them at their toll-free number 1-888-242-2100 and they’ll happily help answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.
Step 3: Get your paperwork in order
When you’re ready to submit your application, make sure you’ve collected all of your paperwork first.
This includes everything on our Required Paperwork for an Employer-Driven Application list, plus any additional documentation specific to your situation and country. Make sure that each form is completed correctly and signed in all necessary places before submitting.
In addition, you should also be prepared with some other pieces of information needed by IRCC: proof of financial support (for yourself or a family member if applicable), copies of educational certificates, letters from previous employers or current employer (if any) detailing job duties and responsibilities and salary/remuneration received.
Step 4: Determine where you want to live in Canada
Do you want to live in a big city like Toronto or Montreal, where there are lots of opportunities but also lots of traffic and big-city stress? Or perhaps you want a smaller town where rent is cheaper but it will be more difficult to find work.
You might even like both! Either way, think about what you really want out of your first few years in Canada.
Are you okay with some long commutes and less job security? Or do you prefer living in an urban centre close to transit?
Step 5: Prepare for the interview
The more information you have, and can explain well, about why you want to work in Canada, your skills and work experience, your education and training, any relatives in Canada and personal circumstances that might make you eligible for an exemption or an easier path to citizenship—the better prepared you will be.
Having all of your documents ready for review by IRCC will also help show them that you are organized.
Remember though – don’t memorize answers! You want your application or interview to sound like how you would normally talk. Interviewers pick up on inconsistencies quickly.
Step 6: Pay all your fees
If you are applying for permanent residence, there are two major fees associated with your application. The first is an application fee (currently $550 CAD), and then if approved, you’ll pay another processing fee ($475 CAD).
So if your application is successful, you will have spent a total of $1,025 CAD on your Canadian work permit application!
Step 7a. Employment based stream – apply online or by mail
You will need to apply for an LMIA – Labour Market Impact Assessment. This is issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
Your employer will provide you with all of the information about how and where to submit your application.
Step 7b. Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) – find a province, territory or city willing to nominate you
One of Canada’s points based immigration systems is called Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Candidates who have been nominated by a province, territory or city in Canada can apply for PR directly.
To be eligible for PNP you must have completed at least one year of full-time study on an approved academic, trade or professional level post-secondary program. You must also meet minimum language standards and pass medical exams.
If you are interested in applying under PNP your province should contact you if it thinks you qualify for their nomination.
Once you have your work permit – register for health coverage, get your SIN number and open an RRSP account
Did you know that you must register for health coverage once you arrive in Canada? How much your hospital and medical costs will be covered by your provincial or territorial health insurance plan will depend on where you live.
It’s recommended that before leaving your home country, you should research these costs so you can make an informed decision about how best to budget for them upon arrival.
In addition, many provinces also require individuals who are not a resident of Canada for at least three months to obtain a SIN number (Social Insurance Number) from Service Canada.
Upon arrival in Canada, remember it’s also important that immigrants register their RRSP account with Revenue Canada as soon as possible so they can start saving for retirement.
Once you have your work permit, there are still three more steps before you can get started on building your new life. If you’re working full-time in Canada, but not currently living here yet, you will need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV).
This visa allows qualified applicants to enter Canada as visitors if they plan on staying in Canada for six months or longer.
Still got questions, visit canada.ca/work-permit