Who can offer work in Canada?

A job offer is made by an employer (inlduding a private household in some cases) that requires the services of a foreign individual in Canada. A common example of an offer to work in Canada is an agreement made by a Canadian company seeking to engage a foreign worker on a full-time basis as a direct employee. However, there are other circumstances by which an offer of work may be made to a foreign national. Examples include: 

  • An offer made by a foreign employer seeking the employment of an individual at the location of a Canadian client site;

  • An offer made by a foreign company seeking to transfer an existing employee to a new Canadian division;

  • A request by a Canadian company to enlist the services of the employee of a foreign company through a contract for services.

What should be contained in the offer of work?

The job offer should contain the details of the position being offered, including: the title of the position being sought in Canada; the responsibilities associated with that position; remuneration for employment, including benefits; the duration of the position; and the location of employment. This may be contained in a letter, a contract, or purchase orders or invoices in some cases, depending on the case. 

Depending on the specific category of the work permit application, additional details and/or supporting documentation may need to be included in an application.

Can I seek a work permit without an offer of work?

The answer is almost always no. Although it may not take the form of a typical job offer, there must be a specific position of employment or business interest being pursued in Canada. It is not possible to seek a work permit for the purpose of seeking employment in Canada. If you do not have a job offer, then you may wish to consider immigration to Canada as a permanent resident in a different category. 

Exceptions to this rule include Youth Program work permits such as the Student Work Away Program or Student Work Holiday Program. Examples of organizations operating such programs include BUNAC and IEC. In some cases, spouses of foreign workers in high skill positions may also be able to obtain a work permit without a job offer (open work permit).

A Canadian employer has stated that they cannot make an employment offer until I have a work permit. How do I get the work permit?

If a Labour Market Opinion is required, the employer must commit to offering you the position and must undertake that application process before a work permit can be sought. Otherwise, the written offer of employment must generally precede the application for the work permit. The majority of types of work permit applications require the details of the employer, the position, the location, the wage, etc. in order to be eligible for processing. 

In some limited cases, applications for work permits may be submitted in the absence of a job offer. This may commonly include spouses of certain foreign workers or foreign students, International Experience Canada class applications (i.e., youth programs), and applications by refugee claimants in Canada. Overall, however, these types of cases represent the exception to the rule that the job offer is required first.