There are several types of work permits in Canada, so there is a work permit type for all who would like to work here. If you have a job offer from a Canadian employer, you can join one of many programs, including the Express Entry program and PNP programs. Through these, you could become a permanent resident or even a citizen of Canada.

Canadian government works hard to enable all who are eligible and would like to migrate to Canada to come and explore the possibilities that Canada has to offer. As there are over one million job vacancies in post-pandemic Canada, a good labour market with 25 paid leave days a year, and over 600,000 work permits issued in 2022 alone, it is easy to see why all the immigration programs attract so many people. Canada is a heaven when it comes to work. And all you need to do is get a work permit.

What Is a Work Permit?

 A work permit is a special type of document that enables all eligible individuals who would like to move to Canada and get permanent residents to do so. For this document, you will need a job offer or a working contract that must be valid (full-time work for more than a year in a non-seasonal job position). As a work permit holder, you are free to join the Canadian labour market and provide for yourself and your family. 

One of the biggest advantages of these programs is that they allow (long-term) entire families to move. If you cannot bring your spouse and children with you immediately, you will be able to do so after you get your citizenship or permanent residence and have enough funds (you will be asked to provide proof of funds) to sponsor them to come to Canada and leave with you. Family reunification and family sponsorship programs exist, and they have been designed with an average immigrant coming to Canada in mind. 

Types of Work Permits in Canada

How many types of work permits in Canada? As we’ve said before, there are as many as eight types of working visa in Canada. As there is something for all, it is good to get to know all these types of visas and work permits, so we will mention them all: 

  • Employer-Specific Work Permit
  • the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
  • intra-company transfers
  • business visitors 
  • IEC Canada 
  • post-graduation work permits
  • open work permits 
  • LMIA-required work permits 
  • LMIA-exempt work permits

Employer-Specific Work Permit

When it comes to employer-specific permits, they are issued only once your Canadian employer has obtained the LMIA – Labour Market Impact Assessment and has managed to prove that the work position filled in by you will have a positive impact on the Canadian labour market and economy and after they have proven that they have tried (and failed) to find a Canadian permanent resident or citizen to fill up this position.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program 

The temporary foreign worker program has been designed for all companies that may need international workers to come in and help. A temporary foreign worker (TFW) can only be invited with an LMIA application and positive assessment. These programs are similar to agricultural programs often found in other countries – they offer temporary or seasonal work. 

Intra-Company Transfers 

When it comes to this type of work permit, it can only be obtained if a company has a branch that operates in Canada. The only applicants who can get this kind of employment contract and intra-company transfer visa (also called the International Mobility Program – Significant Benefit) are highly educated individuals who work in top (managerial and coordinating) positions in a company. The transfer has to be temporary, and the transferee has to return to their usual country of residence. 

Business Visitors

Business visitors can immigrate to Canada under a special work permit program. To be eligible as a business visitor: 

  • your stay has to be shorter than 6 months
  • you cannot enter the Canadian labour market
  • your main place of business is outside of Canada
  • you have documents to support your itinerary and reasons to visit Canada
  • plan to return to your home country once the reason for the visit has passed

This visa is usually intended for people who: 

  • purchase Canadian goods and services for a foreign business
  • take orders for goods and services to be produced in another country
  • attend conferences
  • train employees of a Canadian branch of a company headquartered in another country
  • gets training by a Canadian company
  • servicing machines and products as a part of the agreement made between your mother company and a Canadian client

IEC Canada

The IEC Canada or the International Experience Canada program is intended to improve youth mobility and help them gain international experience. You can join this program once or twice, depending on the country you are coming from. The regular processing time is around 9 weeks, so you should be able to prepare all the permit requirements beforehand. You will get a work permit that is valid for a short time and will have a chance to travel around Canada with the money you have made. IEC Canada is also known as the Holiday Visa. 

Post-Graduation Work Permits 

Post-Graduate Work Permits are also a part of the international mobility program. They suit international students who want to stay beyond their studies and work in Canada. With a study permit, you also get a temporary work visa or a work permit. You can also remain beyond your graduation date for up to 90 days. If you get a job offer letter, have no criminal record (clean police certificate), and are willing to stay and work at the workplace, you can contact an immigration officer or apply for the PGWP online. 

Open Work Permit

With an open work permit and an open Canadian work visa, you can apply for any job position and change employers as you like. These visas are usually issued to individuals looking for employment in Canada within their own industry and who have some experience and education in the field. You will be, as always tested for English or French language skills, and you will need to meet other eligibility criteria.

LMIA-Required Work Permits 

The LMIA-required work permits are work permits for special positions requiring an LMIA – Labour Market Impact Assessment. These LMIA certificates are issued only if there is a need for temporary foreign work and if nobody in Canada can do this work – be it a high-paying or a low-paying job. If this is the way you want to go to Canada, your employer will have to deal with an LMIA assessment – by asking for one from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). 

LMIA-Exempt Work Permits

However, not all job positions require LMIA as a part of the application package. In general, if you have been working full-time with a work permit for a full year, if you have a valid job offer (as deemed by Express Entry), or if you have a work permit that is LMIA-exempt you do not need this assessment. 

Benefits of Having a Canadian Work Permit

Getting a Canadian work permit is not a very easy process, although it is not too difficult either. In any case, you can seek the help of an immigration consultant or a specialist in the area, and they should be able to help you choose the right program for you and help you prepare your documents. When it comes to having a Canadian work permit and access to the Canadian labour market, there are some benefits you will be receiving as well. 

Firstly, depending on your skill levels and your education, your partner may also be granted an open work permit. Even if your work permit is employer-specific, your partner could come with you and use an open work permit to seek employment for themselves. Secondly, a work permit also means that you are given a chance to stay in Canada permanently. This means that you can apply for permanent residency and eventually Canadian citizenship once a certain amount of time has passed. 

If you decide to do so, you should know that under the Federal Skilled Worker Program or CEC – Canadian Experience Class Program – you will be able to apply for residency after living in Canada for only two years, for as long as you got at least a year’s worth of work experience. If you have stayed in Canada for two years prior to applying for a PR Canada, you will also be given a one-year residency credit. 

Basic Ways for Foreigners to Apply for a Work Permit

how to apply for work visa in canada
Applying for a work permit

There are a few basic things to cover when applying for a work permit in Canada. You will need to apply for LMIA, obtain a temporary job offer, choose the type of visa you want to apply for, apply for a work permit, and obtain the work permit. As the process is somewhat different for TFWP and IMP programs, let’s cover them in more detail: 

Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

How to apply for a temporary resident visa and make this a hassle-free experience for you as a worker is a common question. Luckily, there are only a few requirements that you need to fulfill to join the TFWP pathway. These include: 

  • Having a job in Canada is a valid job offer that excludes any erotic or escort services, illegal activities, etc. 
  • Proving that you will leave Canada after your work permit expires
  • Having sufficient funds to support your stay in Canada and your return home
  • Having a clean criminal record and being able to pass all the security checks and questions by the border services officer
  • Be in good health and be able to provide medical exam results when asked to 

International Mobility Program (IMP)

The IMP in general, does not require an LMIA, so Canadian employers may prefer this program. However, as this program is aimed only at those 18-35 (30 in some countries) years old, the work experience can be quite limiting, so the International Mobility Program is designed for those looking to fill temporary work positions, seasonal work positions, etc. Those entering Canada as a part of CUSMA or CETA agreements, who have an open work permit or enter Canada as a part of an intra-company transfer and will not have other interferences with the Canadian labour market and no dependent family to bring with them qualify for this type of temporary resident permit and work permit. 

How to Apply for a Work Permit?

When applying, it is necessary to know what kind of work permit you need. This is the first step as there are open and closed work permit options. Then, you should decide what Canadian immigration options you want to use, make a profile, and download the document checklist. You may also need additional documents (for example, health insurance forms until you get your Canadian medical insurance), but this is decided on a case-to-case basis. Here are some basic prerequisites that all business people need to meet:

  • IMM 1295 form – for visa applicants applying outside of Canada
  • Proof of payments of all applicable permit fees, including processing fee and the biometrics fee
  • Copy of the passport containing the information page (usually the first page)
  • Two photograph with name and DOB on reverse
  • Proof of current residency for all temporary workers
  • Proof that you are qualified for the job you will be doing
  • Copy of LMIA and LMIA number – you get this from your potential prospective employer
  • eTA or TRV to enter the country
  • Proof that you have been offered the job position

Work Permit Eligibility Requirements

Of course, many eligibility requirements exist to get a work permit in Canada. Considering that the permit processing times are sometimes as long as several months, it is always best to include every legal document and copy that you are asked to provide, including the formal employment contract or a valid job offer at once. Delaying the documents or submitting incomplete applications will only delay the process, potentially costing you your workplace in Canada. Considering that IMP Canada has given out only 14,700 work permits in 2022, it is clear that time is of the essence. Here are the eligibility requirements for work permits: 

  • You will (almost always need) a positive LMIA
  • You will need to prove that you will leave Canada after your contract expires.
  • You will need to show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family during your stay in Canada.
  • You will need to have no criminal activity – a police clearance certificate is used for this.
  • You will need to obey Canadian laws and driving laws and bring no one into danger.
  • You will need to be in good health and be able to prove this. 
  • Provide all additional documents that the visa officer may ask you for
  • Understand that you need to be a good type of worker – working for ineligible employers or getting involved in criminal activities. 

Who Are Exempted for LMIA Requirement?

Of course, not all work positions require an LMIA, and not all work permits require a job offer. Here are some programs and agreements that do not require an LMIA: 

  • Exemptions under FATA, NAFTA, etc
  • Entrepreneur applicants, intra-company transfers, and emergency repair personnel working to fix or service complex machinery and other products that have been imported into Canada from their company abroad
  • Exemptions under reciprocal benefits or employment that a Canadian citizen could enjoy in a different country
  • Work positions related to research, education, and training programs, 
  • Work positions offered in charities and religious work
  • Refugee claimants

Check Out LMIA Exempt Jobs in Canada: Job Offer Without LMIA:

Types of Foreign Worker Programs

There are four basic streams of foreign worker programs. These include high-skilled and low-skilled workers, seasonal agricultural workers, and caregiver programs. Let’s consider them in more detail:

High-Skilled Employees

These employees include all who have enough education and work experience to work in positions NOC TEER 00, 0, and 1. Their employment may end up in a permanent work permit, and these workers usually work in managerial, coordinator, and C-level positions (CEO, COO, etc.). 

Low-Wage Employees

Low-skilled employees are usually those that would be deemed as NOC TEER 2 and 3 positions. These skilled workers usually rely on work experience, apprenticeship, and training in addition to their high-school diploma to do their work. Similarly to the high-skilled employees, if they do apply for a job, it has to be a job deficient in Canada, and foreign workers are being sought to fill these positions. 

Seasonal Agricultural Workers

These are very popular programs and attract many people from developing countries. The work is seasonal, and they can stay in Canada for a relatively short period of time or until the harvest and growing seasons of a particular crop last. These jobs are also available in hospitality programs and catering. 


Caregivers are also desired to apply for work positions in Canada. These jobs include providing assistance and enabling children, the elderly, and those who may not be able to provide for themselves due to physical or mental challenges. The work usually includes full-time work, and staying with the family you provide help to is usually the case. 

What Is a Student Work Permit?

A student work permit is a work permit that is issued together with the study permit, and it enables students to work while they study to help support themselves and their tuition costs during their studies. Most students can work part-time while classes are in session, and they can also work full-time during the official school breaks, such as the summer and the winter break.

When it comes to working post-studies, students can ask for a PGWP. What is PGWP in Canada? This is a special document that enables one to work post-graduation and after the 90-day gratuity period has passed. This would mean that a student can keep working even past their graduation date for as long as they apply, pay the application fee, and obey Canadian laws. 

What Are LMIA and CUSMA?

LMIA and CUSMA are common acronyms used when speaking of work permits in Canada. LMIA stands for Labour Market Impact Assessment, and CUSMA stands for Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. This agreement has created the largest free trade region in the world and helped grow the economies of all three countries. 

How to Hire a Foreign Worker?

If you are not looking to immigrate to Canada but are already there and would like to attract qualified individuals to your company, it is useful to know how to bring a foreign individual into Canada and have them join a skilled worker immigration program. What you will need to get a temporary work permit is an LMIA. This is the first step and the way to legalize the whole procedure. 

You must prove that a Canadian citizen or permanent resident cannot fill your workplace and that there is a genuine need to bring someone from abroad. After you get the LMIA, you must send the LMIA code to the foreign person you would like to employ. After this, they take over and apply for a temporary work permit with the LMIA code. 


How Can I Change My Visitor Visa to a Work Permit in Canada?

If you are on a tourist visa in Canada and would like to change that from a visitor visa to a work visa or a work permit, there are ways to do that. First of all, you should look for a valid job offer. Secondly, you should get your Labour Market Impact Assessment and apply for your work permit. The application can be done online. 

Can I Move to Canada without IELTS?

If you would like to move to Canada, you should know there are ways to do so without taking an IELTS exam. To do this, you must have a sponsorship from one of Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Alternatively, you could apply for a study permit, but these may ask for an IELTS test, depending on what you will be studying. 

Who Issues LMIA Canada?

In Canada, LMIAs are issued by ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada). This authority will take your job offer and give their legal opinion on whether the offer will have a positive, neutral, or negative impact on the Canadian job market. After this, you and your employer can continue working on your visa or work permit application. 

What Happens After 1 Year Work Permit in Canada?

If your valid work permit has been issued for a period of one year only and the work and permit conditions have not changed, you can apply for an extension of the regular work permit. With this in mind, if you are a Canadian worker, you can keep collecting days and hours of Canadian experience to apply for the CEC program – and this increases your chances of getting a PR – Permanent Residence – for skilled workers in Canada. 

Final Thoughts

Although there are many ways to get to Canada, the entire process can still be confusing; here, we have tried finding all the ways to get a work permit and immigrate to Canada, even as a temporary foreign worker. The most important part about the application process (whichever type of work permit you may ask for) is to arm yourself with discipline and patience, as getting to Canada is really not that difficult. 

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