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  • Writer's pictureImmergity Immigration Consultant

How to Extend a Work Permit in Canada without an LMIA or CAQ Letter

Extend a Work Permit in Canada

Work Permits in Canada

A work permit is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that allows a foreign national to work legally in Canada. Work permits are essential for foreign nationals who wish to gain employment in Canada, as they provide the legal authorization needed to work. There are various types of work permits, and the specific requirements and processes can vary based on the type of work permit being applied for.


Types of Work Permits

  1. Employer-Specific Work Permits: These permits are tied to a specific employer, job, and location. They generally require an LMIA.

  2. Open Work Permits: These permits are not job-specific and do not require an LMIA. They allow the holder to work for any employer in Canada, with some restrictions.


Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

Definition:

  • An LMIA is a document that an employer in Canada may need to obtain before hiring a foreign worker. It is issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and serves as proof that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job and that no Canadian worker is available to do the job.


Purpose:

  • The LMIA ensures that the employment of foreign workers will not negatively impact the Canadian labor market. It aims to protect Canadian workers by ensuring that foreign workers are only employed when there are no qualified Canadians available.


Process:

  • Employers must advertise the job and demonstrate efforts to hire a Canadian citizen or permanent resident before applying for an LMIA.

  • If ESDC is satisfied that no Canadian worker is available to fill the position, an LMIA will be issued, allowing the foreign worker to apply for a work permit.


Categories:

  • High-wage positions: Jobs that pay at or above the provincial/territorial median wage.

  • Low-wage positions: Jobs that pay below the provincial/territorial median wage.

  • Other specialized categories include agricultural workers, caregivers, and global talent stream.


Certificat d’Acceptation du Québec (CAQ)

Definition:

  • The CAQ is a document required by the province of Quebec for certain foreign workers and students. It is issued by the Quebec immigration authorities (Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration - MIFI).


Purpose:

  • The CAQ is part of Quebec’s unique immigration system, allowing the province to control its immigration policies. For temporary foreign workers, the CAQ confirms that the provincial government has accepted their temporary stay in Quebec for work purposes.


Process:

  • Before applying for a work permit, foreign nationals intending to work in Quebec in certain occupations must first obtain a CAQ.

  • The CAQ application process typically involves providing details about the job offer, employer, and meeting specific eligibility criteria set by Quebec authorities.


Who Needs a CAQ?:

  • Temporary foreign workers: Most temporary workers require a CAQ unless they fall under specific exemptions (e.g., certain intra-company transferees or jobs that are LMIA-exempt).

  • International students: Those studying in Quebec for more than six months require a CAQ for studies.


Importance of Work Permits, LMIA, and CAQ

Legal Employment:

  • Work permits, along with LMIAs or CAQs when required, are crucial for foreign nationals to work legally in Canada. They ensure that foreign workers are protected under Canadian labor laws and contribute to the country’s economy in a regulated manner.


Economic Impact:

  • The processes involved in obtaining work permits, LMIAs, and CAQs help balance the need for foreign labor with the protection of the Canadian labor market. This ensures that foreign workers complement rather than displace Canadian workers.


Provincial Autonomy:

  • The CAQ system highlights Quebec’s distinct approach to immigration, reflecting the province’s unique cultural and demographic considerations.


Work Permits that Do Not Require an LMIA or CAQ

In Canada, there are several categories of work permits that do not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or a Certificat d’Acceptation du Québec (CAQ). These exemptions help streamline the process for certain groups of foreign nationals and facilitate the entry of skilled workers into Canada. Below are detailed explanations of each category:


LMIA-Exempt Work Permits

Explanation of Categories

Certain work permits are exempt from the LMIA requirement because the jobs provide significant economic, cultural, or other competitive advantages for Canada and reciprocal benefits for Canadians and permanent residents. Here are some key categories:


International Agreements

  • NAFTA/CUSMA: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), now replaced by the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), facilitates the temporary entry of certain business persons from the U.S. and Mexico into Canada. Categories include business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors.

  • CETA: The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union provides similar provisions for business visitors, professionals, and intra-company transferees from EU member countries.

  • GATS: The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is a treaty of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that allows certain professionals and business persons from WTO member countries to enter Canada without an LMIA.


Intra-Company Transferees

  • Eligibility: This category is for employees of multinational companies who are being transferred to a Canadian branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary. The transferred employee must have worked for the company continuously for at least one year in a similar full-time position within the three years preceding the transfer.

  • Job Types: Positions typically include executives, managers, or workers with specialized knowledge crucial to the company’s operations.


  • Eligibility: Spouses or common-law partners of certain temporary foreign workers, international students, and skilled workers can apply for an open work permit. This allows them to work for any employer in Canada.

  • No Job Offer Required: Unlike employer-specific permits, an open work permit does not require a job offer at the time of application.


  • Eligibility: International students who have completed a program of study at a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada may be eligible for a PGWP. This permit allows graduates to gain valuable Canadian work experience.

  • Validity: The duration of the PGWP is typically equal to the length of the study program, up to a maximum of three years.


  • Eligibility: This permit is for foreign nationals in Canada who have applied for permanent residence under certain economic immigration programs (e.g., Federal Skilled Worker Program, Canadian Experience Class) and need to bridge the gap between the expiry of their current permit and the final decision on their PR application.

  • Purpose: It allows them to continue working while their permanent residence application is being processed.


Significant Benefit Work Permits

  • Eligibility: Issued to individuals whose work in Canada would bring significant social, cultural, or economic benefits. This category includes entrepreneurs, self-employed individuals, and performers.

  • Criteria: Applicants must demonstrate that their presence in Canada will have a notable positive impact.


Charitable or Religious Work

  • Eligibility: Individuals working for recognized charitable or religious organizations in Canada may qualify for an LMIA-exempt work permit.

  • Purpose: These permits facilitate the entry of foreign nationals who contribute to charitable or religious activities in Canada.


Extending Your Work Permit in Canada Without a New LMIA or CAQ

Extending a work permit in Canada can be a critical step for many temporary foreign workers looking to continue their employment. However, complications arise when the new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) is not yet available as the expiry date approaches.


Applying Without a New LMIA or CAQ

If your work permit is expiring within two weeks and you have not yet received a new LMIA or CAQ, you can still apply for an extension. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), your application must include:


  1. Proof of a Valid Job Offer: This can be a letter from your employer confirming your employment offer.

  2. Evidence of LMIA or CAQ Request: You need to provide proof that the LMIA or CAQ request has been made. This can be:

  • A copy of the application sent to Service Canada or the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration.

  • A receipt confirmation number if the request was made online.

  • Details of the LMIA or CAQ request in the "Details of Intended Work in Canada" section of the work permit application, including the date the request was sent, the office it was sent to, the employer’s name, and the confirmation number if available.


This approach allows you to maintain your employment status while waiting for the new LMIA or CAQ to be processed.


Maintaining Your Status

When you apply to extend your work permit before it expires, you automatically maintain your legal status in Canada. This is known as "maintained status" (previously called implied status). Under maintained status, you can continue to work under the same conditions as your original work permit until a decision is made on your application.


For those with employer-specific work permits, this means continuing to work for the same employer, in the same job, and at the same location. For open work permit holders, you can continue to work for any employer while waiting for the extension approval.


Submitting Proof After Receiving LMIA or CAQ

Once you receive your new LMIA or CAQ, you must submit proof to IRCC within 60 days from the date your application was received. Failure to do so could result in your application being refused. The required proof typically includes the LMIA or CAQ document itself or a confirmation from the relevant authority that your application has been processed and approved.


Tips for a Successful Application

  • Apply Early: Aim to submit your extension application at least 30 days before your current permit expires to avoid last-minute complications.

  • Keep Documentation Ready: Ensure all necessary documents are prepared and submitted accurately to avoid delays or refusals.

  • Monitor Your Application: Regularly check the status of your application and promptly provide any additional information requested by IRCC.


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