Visa Information, Visa Requirements, Visa Application Guidelines, Immigration Rules and Inquiry

Working in Canada - Work Permit

Working in Canada - Work Permit
A work permit is a written authorization issued by an officer that allows a person who is neither a citizen nor a permanent resident to work in Canada. It is required whether or not the employer is in Canada.

Usually, it is valid only for a specific employer, job and length of time, and is issued based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Service Canada.

Who requires a work permit?

A person who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident who wishes to work in Canada requires a work permit. Depending on the nature of the activity, a person may be exempted from requiring a work permit by virtue of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. But in most cases, he or she will need to obtain a work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to work legally in Canada.

Eligibility requirements

No matter where you apply, you must:
  • prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your work permit expires,
  • show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada and to return home,
  • obey the law and have no record of criminal activity (we may ask you to give us a police clearance certificate),
  • not be a danger to Canada’s security,
  • be in good health and have a medical exam, if needed,
  • not plan to work for an employer on the list of ineligible employers,
  • not plan to work for an employer who, on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages,
  • not have worked in Canada for one or more periods that total four years after April 1, 2011 (with some exceptions), and
  • give the officer any other documents they ask for to prove you can enter the country.

Applying from outside Canada

Anyone may apply for a work permit before they enter Canada. In some cases, you must apply to a visa office outside Canada. This is usually true if you need a visa to enter Canada or if you need to have a medical exam before you come here.

Applying from inside Canada

You can only apply for a work permit from inside Canada if you:
  • are currently in Canada and have a valid study or work permit, or your spouse or parents have a study or work permit,
  • have graduated from a program at a
    • Canadian university,
    • community college,
    • CÉGEP,
    • publicly funded trade/technical school, or
    • other eligible school.
  • have a temporary resident permit that is valid for six months or more, or
  • are in Canada because you have already applied for permanent residence from inside Canada (you will have to pass certain stages in the main application process to be eligible for a work permit).

Applying as you enter Canada

You can ask to be allowed to work in Canada as you enter Canada but only if:
  • you are from a visa exempt country and you have an electronic travel authorization (eTA) or are eTA exempt .
  • you already hold a valid medical certificate, if you need it for your job, or are from a designated country.
  • your employer has submitted  a copy of a valid Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), if needed, and
  • your employer has proof that they have paid an employer compliance fee and submitted an Offer of Employment form (PDF, 1.12 MB) to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, if you do not need an LMIA and will be working for a specific employer.
Note: If your job does need an LMIA, you can apply for a work permit as you enter Canada, as long as your employer has approval to hire you through an LMIA before you enter the country. (This does not apply to live-in caregivers and seasonal agricultural workers.)

How to apply for a work permit

Follow these steps to apply for a work permit.

1. Determine if you will apply online or on paper

Apply online

You must have:
  • access to a scanner or camera to make electronic copies of your documents to upload, and
  • a valid credit card to pay with.

Apply on paper

Follow steps 2 to 5 below.

Note for IEC applicants: If you are an applicant under the International Experience Canada program, you can only submit your work permit application online. Paper applications will not be accepted.

2. Get the documents from your employer

Before you apply for a work permit, you will need:
  • the positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) your employer received from Employment and Social Development Canada and your job offer, or
  • a copy of the Offer of Employment form submitted by your employer and a copy of the fee receipt the employer received when they paid an employer compliance fee to Citizenship and Immigration Canada if you do not need an LMIA and you are not applying for an open work permit, and
  • proof that you meet the requirements of the job, such as:
    • proof of education, or
    • work experience. 

3. Get the application package

There are different ways to apply for a work permit, depending on where you apply from:
  • inside Canada
  • outside Canada, or
  • as you enter Canada.

4. Pay the application fees

In many countries, you can pay the fee in the local currency.

Please note that if you apply on paper at a VAC, you will have to pay the VAC services fees. These fees are not included in your CIC application fees.

5. Submit your application

Note: Families should send their applications in one package to the location where the principal applicant will be processed (based on their type of application).

After you apply

You may may be asked to go to an interview with Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials in your country or to send more information.

You might need a medical exam to enter Canada. If you do, an officer will tell you so and will send you instructions on what to do. Note: A medical exam can add over three months to the time it takes us to process your application.

An officer will also check:
  • that the employer is allowed to hire you,
  • that you have not worked in Canada for one or more periods that total four years or more (with some exceptions) and
  • that you qualify for a work permit and have given us all the documents we need.
If you are approved to work, you will get a “letter of introduction” that states you are allowed to work in Canada. That letter is not a work permit.

When you get to Canada, you must show the letter to the border services officer (BSO). You must also show:
  • your passport,
  • your visa (if you need one) and
  • any travel documents you are carrying (such as airline tickets).
The BSO may then give you a work permit that sets out the conditions of your stay and work in Canada.

If you are eligible to apply for the work permit as you enter Canada and are approved, the BSO may then give you a work permit that sets out any conditions on your stay and work in Canada.

If you are eligible to apply from within Canada, CIC will mail the work permit to the address in Canada you provided.

The work permit will outline:
  • the type of work you can do,
  • the employer you can work for,
  • where you can work and
  • how long you can work.

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