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  • Writer's pictureHossein Alavi, RCIC

Understanding Work and Work Permits in Canada

Updated: Apr 10

Discover Opportunities and Pursue Your Dreams with a Canadian Work Permit

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Canada is a popular destination for people from around the world who want to work, study, or settle in a new country. If you are considering working in Canada, it is important to understand what is considered work, what documents you need to apply for a work permit, and how long you can work as a temporary worker. In this blog post, we will cover all of these topics and more.

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What is Considered Work?

Work is any activity that you are paid to do or you are not paid to do, but it is a job that you would usually be paid for or would be a valuable work experience for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Pay includes money or commission that an employer gives you or you receive for a service or any other activity. In most cases, you will need a work permit to work in Canada.

What Do You Need to Work in Canada?

The documents you need to apply for a work permit depend on the job you want to do, the program you want to apply for, and whether or not your job requires a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). In most cases, you will need an LMIA number from your employer if your job needs an LMIA, proof that your employer has submitted an offer of employment through the Employer Portal, an employment contract or letter (if your employer is exempt from the employer compliance process), or proof that you are certified, accredited, or qualified to work in the job you want.

In some cases, you might be exempt from an LMIA. For example, if you are between 18 and 35 years old, you might be eligible for a temporary work permit under International Experience Canada. Mobilité Francophone allows Canadian employers to hire French-speaking and bilingual workers from abroad to work outside of Quebec in managerial, professional and technical occupations and skilled trades.

What are the Different Types of Work Permits Available for Foreign Nationals in Canada?

Canada offers various types of work permits for foreign nationals who want to work in the country. Employer-specific work permits require a job offer from a Canadian employer and are tied to a specific employer and job. Open work permits, on the other hand, allow foreign nationals to work for any employer in Canada except for those who are listed as ineligible or offer certain services such as striptease, erotic dance, escort services, or erotic massages. Unlike employer-specific work permits, open work permits are not tied to a specific employer or job and can be issued for a variety of reasons, such as for spouses or common-law partners of Canadian citizens or permanent residents, for certain types of international students or graduates, and for certain types of applicants under the International Mobility Program. LMIA-exempt work permits are also available for certain categories, such as intra-company transfers, NAFTA professionals, and international mobility program applicants. Additionally, Canada offers working holiday permits through the International Experience Canada program, which allows foreign nationals to work and travel in Canada for up to two years.

How Can You Find Out About Jobs in Canada?

You can find out about jobs in Canada through the Working in Canada tool, labour market information, and job banks. The Working in Canada tool is a comprehensive online database that provides detailed information about job descriptions, wages, skills, education, and job prospects for different occupations in Canada. Labour market information provides data on the labour market, such as trends, salaries, and job opportunities. Job banks are online portals where employers post job vacancies, and job seekers can apply for jobs.

What is a Labour Market Impact Assessment?

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker. A positive LMIA will show that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job and that no Canadian worker or permanent resident is available to do the job. If the employer needs an LMIA, they must apply for one. Once the employer gets the LMIA, the worker can apply for a work permit. To apply for a work permit, a worker needs a job offer letter, a contract, a copy of the LMIA, and the LMIA number.

Does Your Work Permit Allow You to Work for Any Employer in Canada?

It depends on the work permit you have. Most work permits are tied to a specific employer, which means that they will only allow you to work for the employer on the permit. In some situations, you can get an open work permit, which does not include a specific employer. An open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada unless the employer is listed as ineligible on the list of employers who failed to comply with the conditions or offers on a regular basis, striptease, erotic dance, escort services, or erotic massages.

How Long Can You Work in Canada as a Temporary Worker?

There is no set maximum amount of time you can work in Canada as a temporary worker.

Who is Eligible for Work Permit Exemptions in Canada, and What are the Requirements?

Certain foreign nationals may be eligible for work permit exemptions in Canada. For instance, business visitors who are entering Canada to engage in international business activities such as attending meetings, negotiating contracts, or conducting research are exempt from the requirement to obtain a work permit. Other categories of work permit exemptions include short-term workers, performing artists, clergy, and emergency service providers. In addition, certain international agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) provide work permit exemptions for certain professionals. It is important to note that while some work permit exemptions may apply, foreign nationals must still meet all other eligibility criteria and requirements for entry into Canada, such as obtaining a visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA) where applicable.

In summary, obtaining a work permit is an important and necessary step for foreign nationals who wish to work in Canada legally. It is essential to carefully review the requirements and conditions of the work permit to ensure that they are met and to avoid any legal issues or consequences.

At Immigrative, we understand that obtaining a work permit and navigating the LMIA and recruitment process can be a daunting task. That's why we offer a wide range of services to help make the process easier for you. Our team of experienced immigration professionals can guide you through the entire process, from determining the right type of work permit to apply for to submitting your application and following up with the Canadian government. We can also assist Canadian employers with obtaining an LMIA and recruiting Canadian citizens or permanent residents and Foreign Workers to fill their job positions, ensuring compliance with the Canadian government's requirements. With our expertise and support, you can feel confident in your ability to obtain a work permit and work legally in Canada. Contact us today to learn how we can help you achieve your goals as a temporary foreign worker in Canada.


This blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For personalized advice regarding your specific immigration situation, it is recommended to consult with an authorized immigration professional.

About the Author:

This blog post is authored by Hossein Alavi, RCIC, a seasoned Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and the founder and CEO of Immigrative Visa Services Inc. and EduPal Canada. With over ten years of experience in the education and immigration sectors, he is dedicated to assisting individuals and companies with their Canadian immigration needs. Contact Immigrative Visa Services Inc. today to schedule your consultation and take the first step toward realizing your Canadian dream.


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