Canada is not only one of the best countries to live in – it also has a strong economy that includes plenty of attractive job opportunities. Canadians know it, and so does the rest of the world. In 2016, the inaugural Best Countries ranking put Canada in the number two spot (just behind Germany) due to its quality of life, economic standing, support for entrepreneurship, and more.

You don’t have to be a Canadian to work there, but if you’re not a citizen or landed immigrant, you’ll have to apply for a work permit. The route from initial application to your first day at work in Canada will vary depending on the type of employment you’re seeking, your legal status in the country, and how long you intend to stay; this article explains the most common options and the requirements for a successful application.

Work Permit Exemptions

Yes, it’s true – some jobs in Canada do not require that you to get a work permit beforehand. As long as you enter the country legally, you can work for a short period of time. Examples of such jobs include:

  • Athletes and coaches for foreign sports teams competing in Canada
  • Members of the clergy
  • Expert witnesses for important legal or official proceedings
  • Performing artists
  • Volunteer farm work

The jobs that don’t require prior authorization are limited, so most people need to apply for a permit before they can work and be paid in Canada.

Student Work Permits

If you’re a student, the easy way to get a job in Canada is to apply for an off-campus work permit. International students at Canadian colleges and universities can apply for this work authorization, which allows them to work up to 20 hours a week if they meet the following criteria:

  • They are full-time students
  • They have completed at least six months of their studies

Once you have completed your program, you can apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP), which will allow you to work full-time at any job. These permits are valid for up to three years; after working in a skilled occupation for at least a year, you may be able to live and work in Canada permanently by applying for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class.

Spousal Work Permits

work permit

If your spouse or common-law partner is studying or working in Canada, you can apply for an open, unrestricted work permit that lets you maintain employment for as long as your significant other is entitled to be in the country.

Open Work Permits

Post-Graduate Work Permits and Spousal Work Permits are ‘open’ permits, meaning they do not require you to have a job offer in advance or restrict you to a certain occupation. You may be able to apply for this type of work authorization if you:

  • hold a temporary resident permit
  • are participating in a special program aimed at young workers, such as a co-op placement
  • are an international student who can no longer afford to keep studying
  • applied for permanent residence in Canada or are a dependent family member of an applicant
  • are a protected person, refugee, refugee claimant, or a family member of one
  • are under a removal order deemed unenforceable

Temporary Work Permits

If you’re wondering how to get a job in Canada without being a student or having family connections, you can try applying for temporary authorization. Every year, an estimated 300,000 foreign nationals come to Canada on temporary work permits. Employment and Social Development Canada issues these permits to foreign workers who have received a job offer from a Canadian employer. The application process involves several steps, and depending on your country of origin, you may need to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa to enter Canada.

Step One: Your employer applies for any necessary Labour Market Impact Assessment

Before receiving a temporary work permit, your prospective Canadian employer may have to apply for and obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Employment and Social Development Canada grants positive LMIAs if your employer demonstrates that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident can do the job.

Step Two: Employer makes a temporary job offer

Upon receipt of a positive LMIA, the employer can extend a temporary job offer to you. The offer must be in the form of a detailed letter and include a copy of the LMIA.

Step Three: You apply for the temporary work permit

Once you receive the letter and LMIA, you can apply to Employment and Social Development Canada for a temporary work permit. If your future employer is located in Québec, you may have to receive a document called a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec in order to work temporarily in the province.

Step Four: Work Permit is issued

When you arrive in Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency will issue your temporary work permit at the point of entry. You can now connect with your employer and make arrangements to start work.

Getting a Job Offer

So, how do you go about getting a job in Canada from the US or any other country? Most people can’t afford to travel thousands of miles simply to network with Canadian employers and discuss future career possibilities. The tuition fees for international students can be cost prohibitive, even if you do qualify to study at a Canadian college or university. The best option is to look for work from where you now live.

Do you have friends or relatives who are currently residing in Canada? Do any of your close friends have such contacts? Are there any associations or professional groups in Canada run by your fellow countrymen and women? Like many job opportunities, it often comes down to who you know.

If you are active and experienced in your current profession, join LinkedIn, which is a form of social media for professionals. Once you have researched Canadian companies that interest you, reach out to them on LinkedIn, introduce yourself, and express interest in future employment. Make sure that your profile is complete and documents any major accomplishments that make you an attractive candidate.

In Conclusion

Getting a job in Canada is clearly not easy, but it’s not impossible either. Researching the work permit options that best match your current situation and making the most of online networking opportunities could eventually result in your hearing two special words from a Canadian employer – “You’re hired!”