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Canada Immigration - Work Permit

A work permit is a legal document that lets a person who is not a Canadian citizen work in Canada. About half a million work permits are given to temporary foreign workers from all over the world every year.

Many people from other countries move to Canada in search of better job prospects. If you want to move to Canada permanently, getting a job there is a great first step.

The process of acquiring a work permit in Canada can be done in a variety of different ways. Work permits can be broken down into three categories: those that require a job offer from a Canadian employer; those that require an employer to submit a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA); and those that require the applicant to have some kind of connection to Canada (previous education, spousal sponsorship, etc.).

quick facts

  • Processing time: 6 months++

  • Fee: Processing fee $155-$255. 

  • LMIA/Job offer required: Yes (mostly)

  • Language test required for: Yes if English/French is not your 1st language.

  • Minimum work experience required: 1 year full-time of equivalent part time.

What is a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?


Employers in Canada are required to submit evidence to the Canadian government as part of the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in order to prove that the employment of a foreign worker will not have a detrimental effect on the labor force already in place in Canada.


Who is Employment and Social Development Canada?


The Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) department of the federal government wants to make certain that the hiring of foreign workers will not result in the displacement of workers already employed in Canada nor will it have a negative impact on the wages of those workers.

What are the different types of Work Permits in Canada?


Work permits can be broken down into three categories: those that require a job offer from a Canadian employer; those that require an employer to submit a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA); and those that require the applicant to have some kind of connection to Canada (previous education, spousal sponsorship, etc.).

  1. Requiring a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

  2. LMIA-Exempt but requiring a job offer or employment contract

    • International Mobility Program (IMP)

    • NAFTA Work Permits

    • CETA Work Permits

    • Intra-Company Transfers

  3. Open Work Permits (no job offer or LMIA required)

    • Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP)

    • Spousal Sponsorship from Inside of Canada

    • International Experience Canada (IEC) (working holiday visa)

    • Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP)

    • Spouse Accompanying International Student or Worker


The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is specific to employees who are required to have an LMIA (TFWP). Despite the fact that the LMIA process is the norm, there are a variety of work permits that are exempt from the LMIA requirement. These work permits are the result of free trade agreements, such as the one that used to be called the North American Free Trade Agreement but is now called the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, or CUSMA. Because of these free trade agreements, it is now possible for foreign workers to apply for work permits without the requirement that their employers first obtain an LMIA.


Working holidays, post-graduate work permits, and open spousal work permits are some of the other work permit options that are available to foreign workers who do not yet have an offer of employment. These options are in addition to the work permits that are sponsored by employers and are available to foreign workers who do not yet have a job offer. The International Mobility Program is specific to workers who do not require an LMIA and who are free to move internationally (IMP).

Let's understand a few key terms better:

Open Work Permit: An open work permit authorizes a foreign national to work in Canada for any employer and in any location. A restricted open work permit may restrict a industry or occupation but allows you to work across Canada. All open work permits are exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment(LMIA).

Post-Graduate Work Permit: Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) is for international students who have graduated from a designated learning institution (DLI). Post-graduate work permits allow students to gain Canadian experience after completing their study program. A post-graduate work permit is valid for up to 3 years, and the duration is based on the length of your study program.

The Intra-Company Transfer Program allows an international business with a parent, subsidiary, branch or an affiliate of that enterprise in Canada to bring an executive, senior manager or an employee with specialized knowledge to Canada on a temporary work permit.

Inland Spousal Sponsorship Open Work Permit: Allows spouses or partners of Canadian citizens or permanent residents to apply for unrestricted work permits while the outcome of their application is still pending. You must have a valid temporary residence permit and an application for permanent residency under process to be eligible to apply. 

Bridging Open Work Permit: You may be eligible to apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit(BOWP) if you have already applied for permanent residency under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class Program, Provincial Nominee Program, Agri-Food Pilot, Home Child-Care Provider Pilot or Home Support Worker Pilot Programs. It is an open work permit, which allows you to continue to work while your permanent residency application is processing.

How to obtain a Canadian work permit?

Closed Work permit

For skilled workers: LMIA Required.

It is a 2 stage application process.

 1. Apply to ESDC to obtain an LMIA. This step is usually done by your employer. 

 2. Upon obtaining a positive LMIA, you then need to apply to IRCC for a work permit based on the LMIA you received.

For skilled workers: LMIA Exempt.

It is a 2 stage application process.

 1. Although you may not need to apply to ESDC, you still need a valid job offer from an eligible employer. 

 2. You then need to apply to IRCC for a work permit based on the LMIA you received.

Open Work permit

 1. For international students or spouse/partner of foreign workers/students in Canada with legal status.

 2. For spouse/partner of Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents when applying through the family sponsorship program.

The application process for such work permits is fairly different. You need to submit an individual application to IRCC based on the category you are applying under. 

Under all circumstances, you need to meet the eligibility criteria to be granted a work permit.

What are the eligibility requirements to get a Canadian Work Permit?

There are specific requirements you need to meet depending on where you are when you apply for your work permit.


But regardless of where you apply or which type of work permit you apply for, you must:

  • convince the assessing officer that you will leave Canada once your work permit has expired;

  • provide sufficient proof of funds to take care of yourself and your family members (inside or outside Canada) during your stay in Canada and to return home;

  • prove that you are admissible to Canada and have no record of criminal activity;

  • prove that you will 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; or in other words, you must convince the officer that you will not participate in unauthorized work;

  • not plan to work for an employer who, on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages; and

  • provide the officer sufficient documents they ask for to prove you can enter the country.

What is the processing time for Work Permit applications?

The processing time for a work permit application depends on the type of work permit and the applicant’s country of residence at the time of application. Processing times range anywhere from a few weeks to several months.


Most work permit applications are processed and issued within a matter of days or weeks, depending on whether or not a medical examination is required and the workload at the particular visa office to which the application was submitted.

What documents are required to apply for a Canadian work permit?


The documents required for a Canadian work permit will depend on the type of work permit you are applying for. Applicants may need to provide the following documents as part of their work permit application:

  • Completed application forms

  • Labor Market Impact Assessment (if applicable)

  • Valid job offer (if applicable)

  • CV/ Resume

  • Civil status documents

  • Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) (if applicable)

  • Proof that you meet the job requirements

  • Valid passport

  • Education credential Assessment

  • Medical examination report

  • Receipt of payment for IRCC fee.

  • Photographs for application purpose.

  • Legal status in Canada (if already inside Canada).

  • Family member’s proof of status (if applicable).

What is a Post Graduate Work Permit?

International students who have successfully completed an approved program of at least eight months of full-time study at a Designated

Learning Institution (DLI) are eligible to apply for the Post-Graduate Work Program (PGWP).  


PGWP stands for the Post-Graduate Work Study Program, and it aims to provide overseas students with the opportunity to get professional work experience, which they can then utilize to improve their chances of being accepted into a Canadian immigration program. If you are eligible for the Post-Graduate Work Program (PGWP), you can send your application to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).


The total time you spend pursuing your education in Canada will determine how long your PGWP will ultimately be. There is a three-year cap placed on the total duration of a PGWP. In most cases, you will only have one opportunity to acquire a PGWP. In order to remain in Canada after the expiration date of your PGWP, you will need to have either obtained permanent residence status in Canada, secured another temporary permit, or left the country.

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