IMMERGITY Immigration Consultant
Apr 3, 2023
If you are visiting Canada on a visitor visa and have found a job opportunity that interests you, you might be wondering if it's possible to convert your visitor visa into a work permit. This article will explore the process of obtaining a work permit on a visitor visa in Canada and provide insights on how to successfully make this transition.
Table of Contents
Understanding Visitor Visas and Work Permits in Canada
Eligibility Criteria for Converting a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit
Steps to Convert a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit
Benefits of Converting a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit
Potential Challenges and Tips for Success
FAQs on Converting a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit in Canada
Bonus - Use the ongoing (until Feb 2025) Public Policy to convert visitor visa to work permit in Canada
1. Understanding Visitor Visas and Work Permits in Canada
Before diving into the process of converting a visitor visa to a work permit in Canada, it's essential to understand the differences between these two types of permits:
Visitor Visa: A visitor visa, also known as a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), allows foreign nationals to enter and stay in Canada for a short period, typically up to six months. Visitor visas are issued for tourism, family visits, or business trips, and holders are not authorized to work in Canada.
Work Permit: A work permit, also known as a Temporary Work Permit, is a document that allows foreign nationals to work in Canada for a specific employer and a limited period. To obtain a work permit, the applicant must have a job offer from a Canadian employer and, in most cases, the employer must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to prove that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available to fill the position.
2. Eligibility Criteria for Converting a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit
While it is generally recommended to apply for a work permit from outside Canada, there are certain situations where you may be eligible to apply for a work permit while in Canada on a visitor visa:
Spouses or common-law partners of skilled workers or international students: If you are the spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or an international student, you may be eligible to apply for an open work permit while in Canada on a visitor visa.
In-Canada applicants for permanent residence: If you have submitted an application for permanent residence through an economic immigration program (such as Express Entry) and are currently in Canada on a visitor visa, you may be eligible to apply for a work permit while your permanent residence application is being processed.
Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) holders: If you are in Canada on a TRP and have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer, you may be eligible to apply for a work permit while in Canada.
Visitors with a valid job offer and LMIA: If you are in Canada on a visitor visa and have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer with a positive LMIA, you may be eligible to apply for a work permit while in Canada.
3. Steps to Convert a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit
If you meet the eligibility criteria mentioned above, you can follow these steps to convert your visitor visa to a work permit in Canada:
Obtain a valid job offer: Find a job in Canada and secure a job offer from a Canadian employer. Ensure that the job offer is in writing and includes essential details such as the job title, job duties, salary, and duration of the employment.
Obtain a positive LMIA (if required): For most work permit applications, the employer must obtain a positive LMIA from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). This assessment verifies that there is a genuine need for a foreign worker and that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available to fill the position. In some cases, the job offer may be exempt from the LMIA requirement, such as for jobs under the International Mobility Program or jobs covered by international agreements like the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
Submit the work permit application: Complete the application form and gather all the required supporting documents, including the job offer, LMIA (if applicable), and proof of your current visitor visa status in Canada. You can submit your work permit application online or by mail to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Be sure to pay the required processing fees when submitting your application.
Wait for the processing of your application: The processing time for work permit applications can vary depending on the type of job, the volume of applications, and the location of the applicant. While waiting for your work permit application to be processed, you cannot work in Canada unless you have received a temporary work permit. Keep track of your application status online and respond to any requests for additional information from IRCC promptly.
Receive your work permit: If your work permit application is approved, you will receive a work permit document that outlines the details of your employment, such as the employer's name, job title, and the duration of the work permit. Once you have your work permit, you can start working in Canada legally.
4. Benefits of Converting a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit
There are several advantages to converting a visitor visa to a work permit in Canada:
Opportunity to work in Canada: Obtaining a work permit allows you to work legally in Canada, opening up a world of job opportunities and providing a source of income.
Easier transition to permanent residency: Working in Canada on a work permit can improve your chances of becoming a permanent resident, as Canadian work experience is often a significant factor in many immigration programs.
Better understanding of Canadian job market: By working in Canada, you will gain valuable insight into the Canadian job market, which can help you make informed decisions about your career and future immigration plans.
5. Potential Challenges and Tips for Success
Converting a visitor visa to a work permit in Canada can be a challenging process. Here are some potential challenges and tips for success:
Finding a job: Securing a job offer from a Canadian employer can be difficult, especially if you are not familiar with the local job market. Networking, attending job fairs, and utilizing online job portals can help increase your chances of finding a suitable job opportunity.
Meeting eligibility requirements: Ensure that you meet all the eligibility requirements for a work permit before submitting your application. Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of the work permit category you are applying for and ensure you have all the necessary supporting documents.
Navigating the application process: The work permit application process can be complex and time-consuming. To avoid delays and potential issues, it is essential to submit a complete and accurate application. Consider seeking the assistance of a qualified immigration consultant or lawyer to guide you through the process.
Maintaining legal status in Canada: While waiting for your work permit application to be processed, it is crucial to maintain your legal status in Canada as a visitor. If your visitor visa is about to expire, you may need to apply for an extension to ensure you remain in Canada legally.
Preparing for potential delays: The processing times for work permit applications can vary, and there may be unexpected delays. Be prepared for these delays by having a backup plan in place, such as extending your visitor visa or exploring other immigration options.
6. FAQs on Converting a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit in Canada
Q: Can I work in Canada while waiting for my work permit application to be processed?
A: No, you cannot work in Canada while waiting for your work permit application to be processed unless you have a temporary work permit or are otherwise authorized to work without a work permit.
Q: Can I apply for a work permit at a Canadian port of entry?
A: In some cases, you may be eligible to apply for a work permit at a Canadian port of entry, such as an airport or land border crossing. This option is typically available to applicants who are visa-exempt or have a valid job offer and LMIA (if required). However, applying at a port of entry may not be suitable for all applicants, and it is recommended to consult an immigration professional before pursuing this option.
Q: How long is a work permit valid for?
A: The duration of a work permit varies depending on the specific job offer, LMIA (if applicable), and the applicant's passport validity. In general, work permits are issued for a period of six months to two years but can be extended in certain circumstances.
Q: Can I bring my family members to Canada while on a work permit?
A: Yes, you can bring your spouse or common-law partner and dependent children to Canada while on a work permit. Your spouse or common-law partner may be eligible for an open work permit, which allows them to work for any employer in Canada, while your dependent children may be eligible for a study permit to attend school in Canada.
Q: Can I change employers while on a work permit in Canada?
A: If you have an employer-specific work permit, you will need to obtain a new work permit before changing employers. This may involve obtaining a new job offer and, in most cases, a positive LMIA from your new employer. If you have an open work permit, you can change employers without obtaining a new work permit.
7. Public Policy to convert visitor visa to work permit in Canada
Foreign nationals currently in Canada as visitors, who obtain a valid job offer, can continue to apply for and receive a work permit without leaving the country. Additionally, under this public policy, visitors who held a work permit in the past 12 months can request interim work authorization to start working with their new employer more rapidly. Initially set to expire, this temporary COVID-era public policy has now been extended for two years, until February 28, 2025. By maintaining this policy, visitors become a viable option for Canadian employers experiencing significant labor shortages during this period of economic growth.
Before this temporary policy change, individuals intending to work in Canada would usually need to apply for their initial work permit before arriving in the country. If they had visitor status in Canada when their work permit was approved, they would have to leave Canada to obtain the permit. However, with this policy in effect, leaving Canada is no longer necessary.
To qualify for this temporary public policy, an applicant must:
Have valid visitor status in Canada on the day of application
Possess 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
Meet all other standard admissibility requirements
Eligibility requirements for visitors to apply for an employer-specific work permit
The foreign national must meet the following criteria:
Possess valid temporary resident status as a visitor in Canada, including status extensions under subsection 183(5) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), which refers to maintained status, at the time of work permit application submission.
Submit an employer-specific work permit application using the Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker [IMM 5710] form.
Have continuously maintained status in Canada since submitting the application and intend to stay in Canada throughout the processing of their work permit application.
Submit the application on or before February 28, 2025.
For visitors planning to apply for an employer-specific work permit in Canada, it's essential to understand and comply with the eligibility requirements. Meeting these criteria will ensure a smooth application process and increase the likelihood of success. Here's a brief overview of the application process:
Find a job offer in Canada: Before applying for an employer-specific work permit, you must secure a job offer from a Canadian employer. The job offer should either be supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or be exempt from LMIA requirements.
Prepare your application: Gather all necessary documents, including your valid temporary resident status as a visitor, job offer letter, LMIA (if applicable), and any other supporting documents required for the specific work permit category you're applying for.
Submit your application: Complete the Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker [IMM 5710] form and submit it along with all required documents. Ensure that your application is submitted on or before February 28, 2025.
Maintain your legal status in Canada: While your work permit application is being processed, it is crucial to maintain your legal status as a visitor in Canada. If necessary, apply for an extension of your visitor status to ensure you remain in the country legally.
Receive the decision on your application: Once your application is reviewed and processed, you will receive a decision. If your work permit application is approved, you can start working for your employer in Canada as per the conditions specified in your work permit.
By following these steps and adhering to the eligibility requirements for visitors applying for an employer-specific work permit, you can successfully transition from a visitor to a worker in Canada. It's important to plan and prepare accordingly, as the process can be complex and time-consuming. Consider seeking the assistance of an immigration consultant or lawyer to guide you through the process and help you navigate any challenges that may arise.