Converting a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit in Canada
Reflecting the country’s adaptive and welcoming immigration stance, the Canadian government has instituted a public policy that empowers visitors already in Canada and who have secured a valid job offer, to seamlessly transition to a work permit. This policy is particularly accommodating for individuals who have recently been part of the Canadian workforce, holding a work permit at some point during the previous year. For these individuals, the process includes the possibility of attaining interim work authorization, which allows for immediate employment with their new employer as they await the full authorization of their work permit.
Visitor Visa to Work Permit Policy Extended in Canada for 2 years
Visitors in Canada who receive a valid job offer can still apply for and obtain a work permit without leaving the country, thanks to the extension of a temporary public policy that was initially introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy, originally set to expire today, has been extended for two years until February 28, 2025. The policy aims to address labor shortages faced by Canadian employers during this period of economic growth, allowing them to consider visitors as potential employees.
Before the implementation of this temporary policy change, individuals seeking to work in Canada were usually required to apply for their initial work permit prior to arriving in the country. If they were already in Canada with visitor status when their work permit was approved, they would need to exit Canada to receive their work permit. However, with this policy in effect, there is no need to leave Canada.
To be eligible to apply under this temporary public policy, applicants must:
Maintain valid visitor status in Canada on the day of their application
Secure a job offer supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or an LMIA-exempt offer of employment
Submit an application for an employer-specific work permit no later than February 28, 2025
Fulfill all other standard admissibility criteria
The eligibility criteria for converting a visitor visa to a work permit is specific and includes:
Spouses or Common-Law Partners: Those married to or in common-law partnerships with skilled workers or international students in Canada.
In-Canada Permanent Residence Applicants: Applicants who have already filed for permanent residence through economic immigration programs like Express Entry.
Temporary Resident Permit Holders: Individuals in possession of a TRP with a valid job offer from a Canadian employer.
Visitors with a Valid Job Offer and LMIA: Those with a job offer backed by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment.
The Conversion Process
The journey from visitor to worker involves several critical steps:
Securing a Job Offer: The first step is to obtain a valid job offer from a Canadian employer. The offer must be comprehensive, detailing the job title, duties, salary, and term of employment in writing.
LMIA - The Gatekeeper: Unless exempt, most work permits require a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment, which verifies the need for a foreign worker.
Application Submission: With all the necessary documents in hand, applicants can submit their application online or by mail to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), along with the appropriate fees.
The Waiting Game: The processing of the work permit application can vary in length, and applicants are not permitted to work during this time unless they have secured a temporary work permit.
Approval and Work Permit Receipt: Successful applicants will receive a work permit that outlines their employment details, allowing them to begin their work in Canada legally.
The Fine Print
It's crucial to note that typically, visitors in Canada cannot apply for work permits from within the country. However, a temporary policy change has made this possible. As with any immigration process, regulations and policies are subject to change, and it is essential for potential applicants to stay informed of the latest updates by consulting the official IRCC website or seeking advice from professional immigration advisors.
Applicants who hold visitor status but have had a valid work permit within the past 12 months can follow special instructions to obtain interim work authorization, allowing them to start working for their new employer before their work permit application is finalized.
The transition from a visitor visa to a work permit in Canada is a testament to the country's commitment to flexibility and support for foreign nationals wishing to contribute to the Canadian economy. This policy not only benefits the individuals looking to expand their horizons but also the Canadian employers in search of talent from around the world.
Ready to take the next step towards working in Canada? Let Immergity Immigration Consultant guide you through the work permit application process, ensuring a smooth and successful experience. Our team of dedicated professionals is here to help you navigate the complex immigration system and find the best pathway tailored to your unique situation.