Who can apply for a Canadian work permit?

With few exceptions, work permits are sought by those who have work arranged in Canada. This can include an offer of direct employment with a Canadian employer, contract employment in Canada, or some business activities in Canada. Such work must be described and documented in an application for a work permit.

In limited circumstances, foreign nationals can seek work permits without arranged work in Canada, often referred to as open work permits. Such circumstances most commonly include youth mobility programs, some situations of a spouse/partner accompanying a foreigh worker or student to Canada, and protected persons in Canada. Live-in-caregivers and some sponsored spouses or partners also become eligible for open work permits after approval-in-principle of a permanent resident application.

Is a part time job offer eligible for a work permit?

If the case is subject to the requirement of a Labour Market Opinion Confirmation (LMO), then a part time job offer may reduce the likelihood of approval of that process, which could in turn limit eligibility for a work permit. If, however, the part-time nature of the position does not affect the foreign national's ability for self-support, then the LMO application may remain viable.

In cases in which the work permit is LMO-exempt, a part-time position is not specifically precluded. However, if this contravenes the requirements of a given program, or if it affects the likelihood that the work in Canada could be performed, then this could be a subjective consideration of an assessing officer.

Where should I apply for a Canadian work permit?

As a general rule, an application for a work permit is submitted to a Canadian visa office abroad if an individual requires a passport entry visa in order to appear at a Canadian port of entry. The responsible visa office is determine by the nationality of the candidate and/or the country of legal residence.

If the individual does not require a passport visa, then it may be possible to submit the application at a Canadian port of entry (i.e., an airport or border crossing), so long as all other requirements are met at that time (including, for example, possession of a LMO approval). However, it is important to note that certain types of applications must be processed at a Canadian visa office, even in this latter case. In the case of a port of entry application, centralized foreign worker offices within Canada may render advanced opinions on the eligibility of a given case for a Labour Market Opinion exemption. The case is still processed at the port of entry, however.

On average, visa office applications take the longest to process, whereas a complete application can be processed at a port of entry within a day. Advanced opinions on such pot of entry cases will take one to two weeks to process on average, and visa office applications can take between 30 and 180 days depending on the case and location.

Is the application process different for each province?

As a general rule, no, the process is the same for the various provinces and territories. The major exception to this rule is in cases of work in Quebec, which may be governed by a separate application process to the Ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles. To a much lesser extent, there are some cirtcumstances in which individual provinces may apply separate provisions to small subsets of foreign workers (e.g., some provincial nominees).

Can I apply while I am inside Canada as a visitor?

It is possible to submit an application while in Canada with valid visitor status. However, such an application will generally need to be submitted to a location outside of Canada such as a visa office abroad or a Canadian port of entry (see above). In such a case, the candidate may need to travel outside Canada to attend an interview, if requested, and will need to be present at a port of enty to convert any approval to an actual work permit.

What documents should I submit in support of the case?

Commonly, evidence of the purpose of employment in Canada (i.e., a job offer) and Labour Market Opinion if applicable; statutory documents such as passport, birth certificate, and marriage certificate; and evidence of professional and academic credentials are required to accompany an application. However, depending on the specific nature of the application, there is a wide range of additional documentation which may be required in support of an application, and individual processing venues have varying requirements.

How long will it take?

The process of obtaining a Canadian work permit varies in duration depending on the the nature of the qualifications of the applicant, the nature of the job offer, the nationality and residence of the applicant, and the province of the applicant's destination.

Canadian work permit processing delays can range from a matter of hours to 8 weeks, on average and depending on the location of the application. If HRSDC Confirmation of the job offer is a requirement, then an additional delay may be incurred while this process concludes.

Can I start work in Canda before I get the permit?

No, you cannot engage in work in Canada until the work permit is received. You may be able to engage in activities that are covered under the provisions of a business visitor visa during this time, however. Work conducted outside of Canada for a Canadian employer is also not subject to the requirement of a work permit.

Will I need a medical examination?

Applicants who have been resident in a designated country within the past 12 months, and who are seeking a work permit for a period of six months or greater, are required to undergo medical examinations with a designated medical practitioner.Those who will be engaged in work in an occupation in which protection of the Canadian public health is essential would also be required to undergo medical examinations irrespective of the country of residence and/or the duration of the work permit sought.

How long is a work permit valid for?

A work permit is valid for the duration of the work offered in Canada; the maximum duration of such a work permit may vary from as little as 90 days in some categories, to as many as three years in others. There is no minimum duration of work which would otherwise automatically exempt the need for a work permit (i.e., a work permit may be required for any duration of work in Canada). The circumstances of the case will determine what maximum validity is possible. As a general rule, it is not possible to seek a work permit that is longer than the arranged work in Canada.

What is a Compliance Application and who is responsible for it?

Those applying for work permits under the International Mobility Worker Program (i.e., Labour Market Impact Assessment exempt) must provide evidence of the submission of a compliance filing made prior to the work permit application submission, along with evidence of the remittance of the associated filing fee. The compliance filing is the responsibility of the employer, and defines the terms of the offer of employment, including the role, responsibilities, wages and benefits, location of work, legal basis for eligibilitiy, and identity of the International Mobility Worker. Work permit applications submitted without evidence of the compliance filing will be refused.