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Work Legally in Canada: The Ultimate Work Permit Guide

Dive deeper into the world of work permits in Canada with our comprehensive guide, as we explore the different types of work permits available, such as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). We'll discuss the eligibility criteria for each type of permit and provide detailed instructions on how to submit a successful application.

Furthermore, our guide will help you understand the role of Canadian employers in the work permit process, including their responsibilities in obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and extending job offers to foreign workers. We'll also cover job opportunities that are exempt from the LMIA requirement, such as the ones available under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) and Intra-Company Transfers.

The comprehensive guide will also provide valuable information on the financial requirements for work permit applications, the steps to find LMIA-approved jobs using the Canada Job Bank, and tips for identifying Canadian companies that sponsor foreign workers. You'll also find answers to frequently asked questions about the LMIA process, costs, and validity, as well as insights on how an LMIA-approved job can lead to permanent residency in Canada.

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Work Permit Programs

Canada's work permit programs allow foreign nationals to work temporarily in Canada. There are different types of work permits, such as employer-specific, open work permits, and international agreements, each with specific eligibility requirements and processing times.

Canadian Work Permit - What is it?

A Canadian work permit, also known as a work visa, is a legal document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that allows a foreign national to work in Canada for a specific period of time and for a specific employer.

Work permits are typically tied to a specific employer, and this is based on a job offer from that employer. The employer is usually required to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before the foreign worker can apply for the work permit. The LMIA process demonstrates that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job and that no Canadian worker is available to do the job.

There are also open work permits which are not specific to any employer. This type of permit allows foreign workers to work for any employer in Canada, with a few exceptions. Certain categories of individuals, such as some international students and spouses or common-law partners of some temporary foreign workers, are eligible for open work permits.

Work permits are temporary, but some workers can extend their work permits from inside Canada, provided they meet certain eligibility requirements. It's also important to note that having a work permit can be a stepping stone towards obtaining Canadian Permanent Residency under certain immigration programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class.

Remember, it's illegal to work in Canada without a valid permit. The only exceptions to this rule are for certain categories of people, such as diplomats and clergy, who are eligible to work without a permit under Canadian immigration law.

Eligibility Requirements for a Canadian Work Permit


Understanding the eligibility requirements for obtaining a Canadian work permit is crucial for any prospective applicant. This section will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of what Canada immigration requires for a successful work permit application.


  • Firstly, any potential applicant must receive a job offer from a Canadian employer. The employer must complete the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, which assesses whether there are no Canadian citizens or permanent residents available to perform the job.

  • Secondly, the prospective applicant must demonstrate that they intend to leave Canada at the end of their work permit duration. This requirement is necessary to ensure that workers do not overstay their permits.

  • Thirdly, an applicant must prove that they have enough financial resources to support themselves and any accompanying family members during their stay in Canada.

  • Fourthly, any potential applicant must possess a clean criminal record. Canadian immigration may request a police certificate as proof of this requirement.

  • Fifthly, the applicant must be in good health. An immigration medical examination may be required to confirm this. Moreover, the potential applicant must not be a risk to Canadian security. Various checks are conducted to ensure this, including checks against Canadian police databases.

  • Lastly, the applicant must meet any additional requirements that specific work permit programs may have. These could include having a particular skill level, educational level, or a certain amount of work experience.


One should note that these requirements apply generally. However, there are specific programs such as the Open Work Permit or the Post-Graduation Work Permit which have their unique eligibility criteria.

The Application Process for a Canadian Work Permit


The application process for a Canadian work permit can seem complex for first-time applicants. However, this section will break it down into manageable steps, providing a roadmap for prospective applicants.


  • First, secure a job offer from a Canadian employer. In most cases, the employer must obtain a positive LMIA from Employment and Social Development Canada, demonstrating that there are no Canadians available to do the job.

  • Next, gather all the necessary documents. These will typically include a valid passport, proof of job offer (such as a contract), LMIA, proof of qualifications, and any other documents specified by the immigration authorities.

  • Once you have all your documents ready, you can begin the online application process. This process involves filling out the application form, uploading the required documents, and paying the application fee.


It is essential to double-check all the information you've filled in and ensure all the uploaded documents are clear and legible. Any errors or omissions could result in your application being delayed or rejected.


After submitting your application, it will be reviewed by an immigration officer. This officer may request additional information or documents, or they may schedule an interview.


During the review process, you may be required to submit biometrics (fingerprints and a photo), attend a medical examination, or provide a police certificate.


Once the review process is complete, you'll receive a decision on your application. If it's approved, you'll receive a Letter of Introduction and, if required, a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada.


Upon arrival in Canada, you'll present your documents to a Border Services Officer at the port of entry. The officer will make the final decision on your admission into Canada and issue your work permit.

Keep in mind that the actual process may vary slightly depending on the specific work permit category you're applying under and your personal circumstances.


Please remember this is a guideline for understanding the process and it is always recommended to consult with our immigration experts for personalized advice.

Types of Canadian Work Permits


In Canada, the types of work permits can be broadly divided into two categories: employer-specific work permits and open work permits. Understanding these categories and their subcategories is crucial to applying for the right kind of work permit based on your needs and eligibility.


An Employer-Specific Work Permit allows foreign nationals to work according to the conditions on their work permit, which include the name of the employer they can work for, how long they can work, and the location where they can work (if applicable).


An Open Work Permit allows foreign nationals to work for any employer in Canada, except for employers who are listed as ineligible on the list of employers who have failed to comply with the conditions, or those who regularly offer striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages.


Under these two broad categories, there are several different types of work permits. Some of the most common include:

  1. Temporary Work Permits: This is the standard work permit given to foreign workers. It is employer-specific unless otherwise specified.

  2. Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP): Open work permits given to international students who have completed a program of study at a designated learning institution in Canada.

  3. Bridging Open Work Permits (BOWP): This open work permit allows certain permanent resident applicants to keep working while waiting for a decision on their application.

  4. Intra-Company Transfers: For employees of international companies with a branch, affiliate, or subsidiary in Canada. This permit allows them to work in Canada without an LMIA.

  5. International Experience Canada (IEC): Open work permits for young people (typically aged 18-35) from countries that have a reciprocal agreement with Canada. It allows them to work, travel or train in Canada.


Remember, each type of work permit has its eligibility criteria and application procedures. Before choosing which type of work permit to apply for, it is crucial to ensure that you meet the specific requirements and follow the appropriate application process.

Costs Involved in Applying for a Canadian Work Permit


The financial aspects of applying for a Canadian work permit include government fees and other associated costs that can influence the budget of prospective applicants. In this section, we provide a comprehensive breakdown of these expenses.


Firstly, the standard government processing fee for a work permit application is CAD 155. However, specific categories of work permits such as the open work permit come with an additional fee of CAD 100.


Secondly, if your job requires an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment), your employer will be charged a fee of CAD 1,000 per position. An LMIA is a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker.


In addition to the government processing fees, applicants may incur other costs. These may include:

  • Medical Examination: If required, applicants will need to pay for a medical exam from an approved physician.

  • Biometric Fees: Most applicants need to give biometrics (fingerprints and a photo), which costs CAD 85 per person or CAD 170 for a family.


Also, costs can be associated with the following:

  • Translation Services: Any documents that aren't in English or French must be accompanied by a translation. Applicants may need to hire a professional translator.

  • Legal Services: Some applicants choose to hire an immigration consultant or lawyer to help with their application, which is an additional cost.

  • Document Costs: Costs to obtain certain necessary documents such as passports, police certificates, educational transcripts, etc.

Documents Required for a Canadian Work Permit Application


When applying for a Canadian work permit, it's crucial to submit the correct documents to support your application. These documents provide evidence that you meet the eligibility criteria for the work permit. Here, we provide a comprehensive list of documents you will need during the application process.

  1. Job Offer/Contract: A copy of your job offer or contract from your employer in Canada.

  2. Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA): If required, a copy of the LMIA and the annex from your employer.

  3. Passport: You must provide a copy of the page in your passport showing your personal details, and also have a valid passport that enables you to return to your country of residence.

  4. Photographs: Two recent passport-size photographs.

  5. Proof of Work Experience/Qualifications: Depending on the type of work you will be doing in Canada, you might need to provide evidence of your previous work experience and qualifications. This can include reference letters, performance evaluations, educational certificates, job advertisements, etc.

  6. Proof of Relationship: If you are bringing family members with you, you will need to provide documents that prove your relationship, such as marriage certificates or birth certificates.

  7. Medical Examination: Some applicants might need to undergo a medical examination and provide a certificate.

  8. Police Certificates: You might need to provide police certificates for you and any family members coming with you to Canada, especially if you're planning to work in jobs that place you in a position of trust with children or the elderly.

  9. Proof of Financial Support: You might need to provide evidence that you can support yourself and your family while in Canada. This could be bank statements, payslips, or a letter from your employer stating your salary.

  10. Application Forms: Completed application forms for the work permit.


Remember, these are the typical documents required. The exact documents you need will depend on your specific circumstances, including the job you have been offered in Canada and the country where you are currently living.

Demonstrating Your Ability to Perform Work for a Canadian Work Permit


When applying for a Canadian work permit, one of the most critical aspects is demonstrating your ability to perform the job you're applying for. This involves presenting relevant qualifications, experience, and skills that match the job requirements. Here's an outline of how to demonstrate your capability.

Detailed Resume

A comprehensive and up-to-date resume is crucial. It should outline your educational background, work experience, skills, and accomplishments. Make sure to include:

  • Education: List all your relevant educational qualifications along with the name of the institutions, the dates you attended them, and any degrees or certifications you received.

  • Work Experience: Include all past work experiences, particularly those relevant to the job you're applying for. Be sure to provide the company names, job titles, dates of employment, and a brief description of your responsibilities and achievements in each role.

  • Skills: Highlight specific skills related to the job, such as proficiency in certain software or equipment, languages you speak, or any other relevant abilities.


Certificates and Diplomas

If you have formal qualifications that are relevant to the job, provide copies of the certificates, diplomas, or degrees. This could include trade qualification certificates, university degrees, or professional certification.

Letters of Reference


Letters of reference from previous employers can strengthen your application. These letters should ideally verify the duration of your employment, your job title, main responsibilities, and overall performance.


Portfolios or Work Samples

If applicable to your profession, you can provide a portfolio showcasing your work. This can be particularly useful for roles in fields such as graphic design, writing, architecture, and more.

Skills Assessments or Tests


For certain roles, you may be asked to undertake a skills assessment or test. This might include language proficiency tests, trade qualification assessments, or other industry-specific tests.




During an interview (in-person, telephonic, or virtual), you'll have the opportunity to demonstrate your communication skills and answer questions that showcase your ability to perform the job.


It's crucial to tailor your documents and responses to match the job requirements listed by the employer. The more relevant your application materials, the better chance you have of demonstrating your ability to perform the job.

Processing Time for Canadian Work Permit Applications


The processing time for Canadian work permit applications can vary greatly, depending on a multitude of factors, including the type of work permit being applied for, the volume of applications received by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and the country from which you're applying.


Generally, processing times are calculated from the day IRCC receives an application to the day a final decision is made. For online applications, the general processing time for most work permits is around 1-27 weeks.

For specific work permit categories, the average processing times, according to IRCC, are as follows:

  • Global Talent Stream: Two weeks

  • Agricultural workers: Takes about 1-14 weeks

  • Caregivers: Takes about 1-12 weeks

  • In-Canada applicants: Takes about 38-96 days


It's important to note that these processing times are only averages and are not guarantees. Some applications may take longer to process if they require additional document verification, security screening, or if the applicant needs to attend an interview.


Furthermore, processing times can also be affected by the volume of applications at certain times of the year. For example, during peak immigration times, such as the summer months, the processing times may be longer.


Finally, applicants who use the services of a representative, such as an immigration consultant or lawyer, may experience different processing times. Representatives often have a thorough understanding of the application process and can ensure that your application is complete and correctly submitted, which can sometimes expedite the processing time.

How to Renew or Extend a Canadian Work Permit


Foreign workers in Canada may want to extend their work permit for various reasons, such as job continuation or changes in their job or employer. The extension process is similar to the original application but needs to be initiated well in advance of the permit's expiry date.


Firstly, to extend or change your work permit, you must apply at least 30 days before your current permit expires. This is crucial to maintain your legal status in Canada while your application is processed.

Secondly, just like your initial work permit application, you will need to complete an application form. This form, called "Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker" (IMM 5710), is available online through the Government of Canada website.


In addition to the application form, you will need to prepare supporting documents. These documents may include a new job offer or contract, a new LMIA (if required), proof of your current status in Canada, and any other documents that show changes in your circumstances.


Next, you will need to pay the required fees, which are typically the same as the initial work permit application fee is CAD 155, but always confirm the current fee structure on the official IRCC website.

Once your application is complete and the fees are paid, you can submit your application online. If your current work permit expires while you're waiting for a decision on your application, you can stay in Canada under the "implied status" provision until a decision is made. However, you must remain in Canada and meet the conditions of your original work permit.


If your application is approved, you will receive a new work permit that will outline the conditions of your stay in Canada, including the type of work you can do, where you can work, and how long you can stay and work in Canada.

Open Work Permit Vs. Employer-Specific Work Permit

In Canada, work permits are broadly divided into two categories: open work permits and employer-specific work permits. Understanding the difference between these two types of work permits is crucial for prospective applicants. In this section, we'll detail the characteristics and conditions of both types of permits.


Open Work Permit


An open work permit provides flexibility to the holder. It allows the holder to work for any employer in Canada, except for those who are listed as ineligible on the list of employers who have failed to comply with the conditions.

With an open work permit, you are not limited to a specific location and can take up any job anywhere in Canada. This means that if you come across better job opportunities, you can switch employers without needing to update or change your work permit.


Certain individuals are eligible for an open work permit, including:


Employer-Specific Work Permit


Unlike the open work permit, an employer-specific work permit ties the holder to a specific employer. This type of permit, as the name suggests, only allows the holder to work for the employer named on the permit.


On this permit, the name of the employer, the location of work (if applicable), and the length of time the worker can work will be specified. If the permit holder wants to change their job or employer, they must apply for and receive a new work permit before making a switch.


Employer-specific work permits are usually issued based on a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada, or based on an offer of employment number if the job is LMIA-exempt.

Remember, the type of work permit you are eligible for depends on your individual circumstances.

Study in Canada on a Work Permit


While the primary purpose of a Canadian work permit is to allow foreign nationals to work in Canada, many permit holders also express interest in furthering their education during their time in the country. This can lead to the question, "Can you study in Canada on a work permit?" Here, we delve into this subject.

As per IRCC regulations, foreign nationals can study in Canada while on a work permit under certain conditions. However, whether or not you can study largely depends on the nature and duration of the course or program of study.

  1. Short-term Studies: For study programs that last six months or less, a study permit is not required. Therefore, a work permit holder can enrol in such courses without needing to apply for a study permit.

  2. Long-term Studies: If you intend to undertake a course or program of study that lasts more than six months, you will generally need to obtain a study permit. In such cases, you would need to apply for a study permit in addition to your work permit.


However, some exceptions exist for individuals who hold specific types of work permits:

  • Spouses or common-law partners: If you are the spouse or common-law partner of a full-time student or skilled worker in Canada, you may be eligible for an open work permit, which allows you to work and study in Canada.

  • Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders: Individuals who have a PGWP can study a short-term course that can be completed during the validity of the work permit. If you want to pursue further studies, you need to apply for a study permit.

  • Study while on "Implied Status": If you hold a work permit and have applied to extend it and remain in Canada on "implied status," you are also allowed to study until a decision is made on your application.

Off-Campus Work Permit in Canada


Canada's regulations offer an Off-Campus Work Permit Program that allows eligible international students to work off-campus while completing their studies. This enables students to gain work experience in Canada and contribute to their communities. Here, we explore key aspects of the off-campus work permit.


The off-campus work permit is no longer issued as a separate document. Rather, eligible students can work off-campus under the standard study permit if they meet certain requirements. These include:

  • They must hold a valid study permit.

  • They are a full-time student at a designated learning institution (DLI).

  • They are enrolled in a program of study that is at least six months long and that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate.

  • They have started studying.


If students meet these criteria, they can work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during academic sessions and full-time during scheduled breaks without needing a separate work permit. They must stop working the day they no longer meet the above requirements (e.g., if they switch to part-time studies or finish their program).


Note that not all students are eligible. For instance, students studying English or French as a second language, students taking general interest courses, or students in a program through a scholarship program that prohibits employment cannot work off-campus.


Moreover, students are responsible for ensuring that they comply with the conditions of their study permit and maintain their eligibility to work off-campus. Violating these conditions could lead to serious consequences, such as the revocation of the study permit or deportation.

Changes to Off-Campus Work Permit in 2023

Co-op and Internship Programs in Canada

Co-op and internship programs offer a practical way for international students in Canada to gain work experience in their field of study. Under these programs, students can work for employers as part of their academic curriculum. Here, we explain the key features of these programs and how international students can participate.

A co-op or internship program is a structured method of combining classroom-based education with practical work experience. These programs provide academic credit for structured job experience and allow students to gain experience in their field while continuing their studies.

To be able to work in a co-op or internship program, international students must:

  • Have a valid study permit.

  • Be enrolled in a program that is intended to lead to a degree, diploma or certificate.

  • The co-op or internship must not be more than 50% of the total program of study.


To work in a co-op or internship job, international students will need a co-op or intern work permit, in addition to their study permit. Here are the steps to get this permit:

  1. Check your eligibility: Ensure your program indeed requires work experience as part of the curriculum.

  2. Apply for the work permit: This should be done as soon as you receive a letter from your school that states that a co-op or internship is part of your program. You can apply online on the IRCC's website.

  3. Wait for processing: Processing times vary depending on many factors. It's advisable to apply as soon as possible to avoid potential delays.

  4. Receive your permit: If approved, you'll receive your co-op work permit, which allows you to work for specific employers for a specific time.


Note that co-op and intern work permits are employer-specific, meaning they allow you to work for the employer stated in your co-op assignment. They do not allow you to work for other employers.

Temporary Public Policy for Foreign Nationals to Study Without a Study Permit in Canada - 2023 update

In an effort to support economic recovery post-COVID pandemic, Canada has introduced a temporary public policy that allows foreign nationals with valid work permits to study without a study permit. This policy is aimed at providing these individuals with more flexibility and opportunities to upgrade their skills, credentials, or licensing, thereby enabling them to secure higher-skilled and higher-paid work, fill jobs in essential occupations such as healthcare, and increase their chances of qualifying for permanent residence programs in the future.

The policy, enacted under section 25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, applies to eligible foreign nationals who are working in Canada and either hold a work permit or have applied to renew their work permit and are authorized to work under paragraph 186(u) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. To be eligible, the foreign national’s work permit application must have been received by IRCC on or before June 7, 2023.

The policy outlines specific conditions or eligibility requirements. For instance, the foreign national must hold a valid work permit and the application associated with that permit should have been received by IRCC on or before June 7, 2023. Alternatively, they could have submitted an application to renew a work permit under section 201 of the Regulations on or before June 7, 2023, and be authorized to work as per paragraph 186 (u) of the Regulations.

The exemption granted will apply until the work permit application is refused; the work permit expires; or the expiry (June 27, 2026) or revocation of this public policy, whichever comes first. Foreign nationals who meet these conditions are exempt from certain Regulations, including the requirements that a foreign national must meet in order to study in Canada without a study permit.

This public policy will come into effect on June 27, 2023, and will expire on June 27, 2026. It may be revoked at any time, without prior notice.


  1. This policy is a significant step towards supporting temporary foreign workers in Canada, providing them with opportunities to upgrade their skills and potentially transition into permanent residency.

  2. The policy underscores the importance of foreign workers in Canada's economic recovery post-COVID pandemic, particularly in essential occupations such as healthcare.

  3. The policy's temporary nature, with a set expiry date, suggests that it is a responsive measure to the current economic and immigration context, which may evolve over time.

Temporary Public Policy Exempting Certain Applicants from Work Permit Requirements in Canada - 2023

Canada has introduced a temporary public policy that exempts certain applicants applying under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class or the Family Class from work permit requirements. This policy is aimed at improving the integration of these individuals into Canadian society by allowing them to work in Canada while their application for permanent residence is being processed.

The policy allows sponsored spouses and partners in Canada to support their family and build their lives together. It facilitates the issuance of an open work permit to foreign nationals applying under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class or the Family Class, and their family members, who have a valid temporary resident status, maintained their status or are eligible for and have applied to restore their status, and have the same residential address as their sponsor in Canada when they apply for an open work permit.

The policy outlines specific conditions or eligibility requirements. For instance, the foreign national must be a principal applicant who has submitted a permanent residence application under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class or as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner under the Family Class that has been accepted for processing by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada after meeting the requirements of a complete application and that has not been refused or withdrawn.

The policy also applies to dependent children who have been included as an accompanying family member in the application for permanent residence. All applicable fees, including fees for processing a work permit application and open work permit holder fees, are payable.

This public policy takes effect 90 days after the date of the Minister's signature. The public policy may be revoked at any time. Applications received pursuant to this public policy on or after the coming into effect date and before the revocation of the public policy, and pending applications that were received by IRCC that have not been finalized on the date this public policy takes effect will be processed under this public policy.


  1. This policy is a significant step towards supporting sponsored spouses, partners, and their dependent children in Canada, providing them with opportunities to work and contribute to Canadian society while their permanent residence applications are being processed.

  2. The policy underscores the importance of family reunification in Canada's immigration policy, facilitating the issuance of open work permits to sponsored spouses, partners, and their family members.

  3. The policy's temporary nature suggests that it is a responsive measure to the current immigration context, which may evolve over time.

Change Jobs or Employers on a Work Permit in Canada


Holding a Canadian work permit doesn't mean you are permanently tied to one job or employer. There are ways to change jobs or employers, but the process and rules largely depend on the type of work permit you hold. In this section, we detail how to go about making this change.


Open Work Permit


If you hold an open work permit, you have the flexibility to change jobs or employers without the need to notify the IRCC. You can start your new job as soon as you would like, provided it does not violate other conditions of your permit. For instance, if your open work permit is a result of your status as an international student's spouse, you can only work while your partner maintains their status as a student.


Employer-Specific Work Permit


If you have an employer-specific work permit, the process is a bit more complicated. You cannot start working for a new employer until you have a new work permit that specifies this employer.


To do this, you will need to go through a similar process as when you applied for your initial work permit. If the new job requires a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), your new employer will need to get this. If the job is LMIA-exempt, you will need the offer of employment number your employer receives when they submit their offer of employment through the Employer Portal.


Afterwards, you will need to apply for a new work permit. You may stay in Canada while waiting for the new work permit only if you have applied for a new work permit before your current one expired, and if you remain in Canada while waiting for a decision on your application.

Remember, these procedures can be subject to change and vary based on your individual circumstances. It's always advisable to consult with an immigration expert or legal advisor for personalized advice. Keep up to date with the latest information on the official IRCC website.

Vulnerable Worker Open Work Permit (VWOWP)


Canada is well-known for its commitment to safeguarding the rights of workers and advocating equitable labor practices. A significant component of this endeavor is the Vulnerable Worker Open Work Permit (VWOWP), designed to shield foreign workers from exploitation and mistreatment.

The VWOWP is a specialized program that plays a crucial role in safeguarding vulnerable foreign workers from potential exploitation and abuse. These workers may find themselves in precarious situations due to factors such as their immigration status or employer dependency, making them susceptible to unfair treatment.

Through the VWOWP, the Canadian government aims to create a safe and secure environment for these workers, offering them an open work permit that allows them to change employers freely. This provision is particularly significant as it breaks the shackles of employer-specific work permits, granting workers the freedom to seek better employment opportunities without fear of losing their legal status in the country.

The VWOWP also emphasizes the importance of effective communication with workers, ensuring they are aware of their rights and entitlements in Canada. In doing so, it empowers foreign workers with the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves from potential exploitation, unfair wages, or unsafe working conditions.

By implementing the Vulnerable Worker Open Work Permit, Canada demonstrates its commitment to upholding human rights, promoting inclusivity, and fostering a fair and equitable labor market for everyone within its borders. This program exemplifies the country's dedication to creating a work environment that respects the dignity and well-being of all workers, regardless of their origin, and stands as a testament to Canada's values of diversity and social responsibility.

Jobs in Canada That Do Not Require a Work Permit


While a work permit is a standard requirement for foreign nationals seeking employment in Canada, there are certain circumstances and job types for which a work permit is not needed. The following section provides an overview of jobs that do not require a work permit.

  1. Athletes and Coaches: Athletes and coaches involved with an international sports activity or event can work without a permit. However, this does not cover minor league coaches and trainers.

  2. Aviation Accident or Incident Investigators: Investigators authorized by the Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act can work without a work permit.

  3. Business Visitors: Foreign business visitors who are visiting Canada for international business activities without directly entering the Canadian labor market can work without a permit. For example, those attending meetings, conferences, or training sessions.

  4. Civil Aviation Inspectors: Inspectors who oversee the safety of civil aviation operations can work without a permit.

  5. Clergy: Individuals who are responsible for assisting a congregation with worship and other religious functions can work without a permit.

  6. Convention Organizers: Staff organizing or running international conferences or conventions do not require a work permit.

  7. Crew members: Crew members of means of transportation, including aircraft, ships, trucks, and buses, do not need a work permit, as long as their work relates to the operation or maintenance of the vehicle or assisting passengers.

  8. Emergency Service Providers: Individuals assisting with emergency operations, including natural disasters, do not need a work permit.

  9. Examiners and Evaluators: Professors or academic experts evaluating or supervising academic projects, programs, or theses do not require a work permit.

  10. Expert Witnesses or Investigators: Individuals in Canada to testify before a regulatory body, tribunal, or court of law do not require a work permit.

  11. Foreign Government Officers and Families: Certain individuals in Canada under a foreign mission or working for a foreign government do not need a work permit.

  12. Foreign Representatives and Families: Accredited diplomats and their families do not require a work permit.


The list provided above isn't exhaustive, and even if your job is listed, it's important to ensure that you meet the specific requirements and criteria outlined by the IRCC.

Working in Quebec with a Canadian Work Permit


The province of Quebec has a unique immigration agreement with the Government of Canada. As a result, the rules for working in Quebec can be different from those in other provinces. This section outlines the key considerations when planning to work in Quebec with a Canadian work permit.

In general, foreign workers in Quebec are required to obtain a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) for temporary workers in addition to a work permit.


However, several categories of workers are exempt from this requirement. These exemptions include, but are not limited to:

  • Workers on an open work permit.

  • Intra-company transferees.

  • Individuals coming to Quebec for a stay of 30 days or less.

  • Spouses and children of certain categories of temporary workers.


When it comes to employer-specific work permits, Quebec's involvement in the process may vary based on the category. For example, in the case of Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-based work permits, the employer needs to apply for the LMIA from the federal Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and for a CAQ from the Quebec Ministry of Immigration.


If the job is LMIA-exempt, the process for obtaining a CAQ can vary. In some cases, the employer may need to submit a request for validation of a job offer with the Quebec Ministry of Immigration. In other cases, the worker may need to apply for the CAQ.


Quebec also has its own skilled worker program, the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP), which can be a pathway to permanent residence for temporary workers in Quebec.


When planning to work in Quebec with a Canadian work permit, it's important to be aware of these unique requirements and procedures. As always, be sure to check the most recent information on the official Quebec Ministry of Immigration website or consult with an immigration expert or legal advisor.

Converting a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit in Canada


While it is common for individuals on a visitor visa in Canada to wish to change their status to a work permit holder, it's crucial to understand that the process is not as simple as just 'converting' one visa into another. Here, we outline the key considerations and steps involved in this process.

In general, if you entered Canada on a visitor visa, you are not allowed to work without a valid work permit. If you find employment and wish to change your status, you must apply for a work permit. However, you may need to leave Canada to do so.


There are a few situations, however, where you can apply to change your status from visitor to worker while in Canada:

  1. If you have a valid job offer: If you have a valid job offer and meet eligibility requirements, you can apply for an employer-specific work permit from within Canada. However, you will need a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from your prospective employer or an offer of employment number if the job is LMIA-exempt.

  2. Spousal sponsorship: If you are being sponsored for permanent residency by a spouse or common-law partner who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you can apply for an open work permit while your permanent residency application is being processed.

  3. If you are eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP): Graduates of certain designated learning institutions may be eligible to apply for a PGWP from within Canada.

  4. Due to circumstances beyond your control: In rare cases, you may be able to change your status due to circumstances beyond your control, such as the cessation of the job you held in your home country.


If you are not eligible to apply from within Canada, you will need to apply for a work permit from outside Canada, either before you travel or upon your entry to Canada.

Transitioning from a Work Permit to Permanent Residence in Canada


For many foreign workers in Canada, a work permit is a stepping stone to achieving permanent resident (PR) status. The Canadian government has a number of immigration programs that allow foreign workers to transition to permanent residency. In this section, we provide a detailed overview of some of the key pathways.

  1. Canadian Experience Class (CEC): This program under Express Entry is designed for skilled workers who have Canadian work experience and want to become permanent residents. To be eligible, you must have at least 1 year of skilled work experience in Canada, have had legal status while working, and meet language ability requirements.

  2. Provincial Nominee Program (PNP): Each of Canada's provinces and territories has its own immigration program, known as the PNP. Many of these programs have streams specifically for workers in certain occupations or with a job offer in that province.

  3. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP): This is another program under Express Entry for skilled workers with foreign work experience who want to immigrate to Canada permanently. While it doesn't require Canadian work experience, having a Canadian work permit and job can give you additional points in the ranking system.

  4. Quebec Experience Program (PEQ): If you're working in Quebec, the PEQ could be an option. It offers a pathway to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers in Quebec.

  5. Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program: For workers in the Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program could provide a route to permanent residence.

  6. Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Program: This community-driven program is designed to spread the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities by creating a path to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers.

  7. Agri-Food Immigration Pilot: This pilot is for experienced, non-seasonal workers in specific industries and occupations who want to become permanent residents.


It's important to remember that each of these programs has its own eligibility criteria and application processes. Some may require a valid job offer, a certain level of language proficiency, specific work experience, or a nomination from a province.

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