What is a Canadian Work Permit?

A Canadian work permit is a temporary resident visa issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to grant permission to foreign workers seeking to engage in employment in Canada. Work permits are commonly issued for one year, however this can vary depending on the type of permit and the duration of the work, assignment, or project in Canada, as well as the passport validity of the foreign national.

Is a work permit necessary in every Canadian province?

Yes, such authorization is required to engage in work in any province in Canada. However, foreign workers seeking to be employed in the province of Quebec may sometimes be additionally required to obtain a Certificat d'acceptation du Qu├ębec (CAQ) to be eligible to seek a Canadian work permit.

What is Considered Work?

Work is defined in Canada's laws as any activity for which an individual receives payment, or one that competes directly with Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market. "Work" may therefore include some unpaid positions (i.e., internships), situations in which a foreign individual is self-employed, and other situations which may not be apparent.

Is a work permit always required?

No, exemptions exist by which a foreign individual may not be required to obtain a work permit. Positions which do not meet the definition of work would not be subject to the requirement. In addition, there are circumstances in which a foreign worker may be allowed to engage in work in Canada without a permit. The most common example of such is the Business Visitor (R186a).

Once a work permit is issued, can I change employers?

It would generally be necessary to seek a new work permit or a change of terms in order to engage in work with a different employer. A work permit is generally issued on the basis of an intention to work in a specific position and for a specific employer.

Will a work permit lead to permanent resident status?

A work permit is a temporary resident visa and does not automatically lead directly to a Canadian permanent resident visa (live-in-caregivers become eligible for permanent resident status, but must apply for such separately). However, there is no bar to an application for permanent resident status while residing in Canada as a temporary resident with a work permit. This dual intent is permissible so long as an official is satisfied that the foreign national intends to leave Canada if required (i.e., upon the expiration of any temporary status granted).

Possession of a Canadian work permit may facilitate admissibility for a permanent resident visa. The mere presence of an application for permanent resident status is not, in itself, grounds for extension of a work permit, however.

Can I work in Canada on the basis of a work permit in another country?

No, it would still be necessary to obtain a Canadian work permit. Conversely, a Canadian work permit does not automatically entitle an individual to work in any other country.

Why does my work permit state "This does not authorize re-entry?"

There is a difference between a work permit and an entry visa. Citizens and/or residents of certain countries are required to have an entry visa to appear at a port of entry to seek admission, and a work permit to work in Canada once admitted. If such an individual departs Canada during the validity of the work permit, a valid entry visa is needed to seek re-admission to Canada (i.e., the work permit alone does not authorize re-entry). If the individual is a citizen of a passport visa exempt country, then such an individual may return to the port of entry to seek admission on the basis of a valid passport alone.