There are 2 types of work permits: open work permits and employer-specific work permits.
OPEN WORK PERMITS
An open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada, except for an employer:
- who is listed as ineligible on the list of employers who have failed to comply with the conditions, or
- who regularly offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages
An open work permit can be issued to a foreign national only under one of the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions.
Types of open work permits
There are two types of open work permits:
- unrestricted (allowing foreign nationals to work in any occupation and location)
- restricted (restricting the occupation or the location but not the employer)
Open work permits may be issued with the following:
- occupational restrictions, depending on the applicant’s medical status
- location restrictions, depending on the category (such as a bridging open work permit under the provincial nominee class)
Unrestricted Open Work Permit
You may be issued this type of work permit if you are eligible and have passed a medical examination for immigration purposes. If you pass the medical examination but are identified as potential risk to public health due to a communicable disease that is presently inactive but may reactivate, “medical surveillance required” condition will be imposed on the Unrestricted Open Work Permit.
Certain applicants are issued an Unrestricted Open Work Permit despite failing the medical examination. One such example is an applicant whose claim for refugee protection has been referred to the Refugee Protection Division but has not yet been decided upon.
Open employer but occupation- or location-restricted work permit
Location-Restricted as per the requirements of the LMIA exemption category (for instance, bridging work permits to provincial nominees are restricted to the province of nomination).
Occupation-Restricted due to LMIA exemption requirements (for instance, work permit issued under Home Support Worker program will mention NOC codes for the occupation)
Occupation-Restricted due to medical results (where a foreign national cannot work in jobs where the protection of the public health is required)
Occupation-Restricted due to no medical examination (where a foreign national has not completed an immigration medical examination, open work permit may be issued, but conditions will be imposed restricting specific occupational sectors)
Who can apply for an Open Work Permit ?
You can apply for an open work permit if you meet the general eligibility requirements of a work permit and:
You've applied for permanent residence under Express Entry and you are already working in Canada
You may be eligible for a special type of open work permit called a bridging open work permit if:
- your work permit is due to expire within four months, and
- you’ve applied for permanent residence under Federal Skilled Worker Program, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Trades Program, or Provincial Nominee Program
You've applied or you are applying for permanent residence on paper and you are already working in Canada
Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for a special type of open work permit called a bridging open work permit or a regular open work permit.
You may be eligible for a bridging open work permit if
- you’re already working in Canada
- your work permit is due to expire within 4 months, and
- your paper application has been found complete or has received a positive eligibility assessment under Provincial Nominee Program, Caring for Children Class, Caring for People with High Medical Needs Class, or Agri-Food Pilot
You may be eligible for a regular open work permit if
- you’re applying or have already applied for permanent residence under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class, or
- you’ve applied for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds and your application has been approved in principle
You're a family member who has been included in an application for permanent residence and you are already living in Canada
You may be eligible for an open work permit if you’ve been included on an application for permanent residence that has been found complete or has received a positive eligibility assessment. Your application must be under one of the following:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program
- Canadian Experience Class
- Provincial Nominee Program
- Federal Skilled Trades Program
- Family Class
- Caring for Children Class
- Caring for People with High Medical Needs Class
- humanitarian and compassionate grounds
A spouse or common-law partner of provincially nominated work permit holder
You may be eligible for an open work permit irrespective of the skill level of the principal applicant’s occupation. The open work permit should be location-restricted to the principal applicant’s province of work.
A spouse or family member of someone working or studying temporarily in Canada
You may be eligible for an open work permit if you’re:
- a spouse of a skilled worker in an occupation under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0, A or B approved to work in Canada six months or longer
- a spouse of someone applying for the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program in a job under NOC 0, A, B or C
- a spouse of a foreign student at a public post-secondary school, such as a college or university or collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) in Quebec
- a family member of a foreign representative, or
- a family member of a foreign military member who is working in Canada
A recent graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution
You may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit. This is a type of open work permit.
Holding a temporary resident permit valid for at least 6 months
You may be eligible for an open work permit.
Filed a claim for refugee protection in Canada
You and your family members in Canada may be eligible for an open work permit if you filed a claim for refugee protection in Canada and:
- you’re waiting for the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to decide on your claim, and
- You cannot pay for your basic needs without working.
You and your family members in Canada may also be eligible for an open work permit if the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) has rejected your refugee claim and:
- you cannot be removed from Canada for reasons beyond your control, and
- You cannot pay for your basic needs without working.
A participant in the World Youth Program
You may be eligible for an open work permit.
A study permit holder who can no longer support themselves financially
You may be eligible for an open work permit if you can no longer pay for your day-to-day needs or tuition for reasons beyond your control. Examples include changes to the situation in your home country, such as war, upheaval, or collapse of the banking system.
You must include a letter of explanation with your work permit application that outlines the reasons why you’re now destitute. An immigration officer will need to interview you to determine if you’re eligible.
A worker who is being abused or at risk of being abused in relation to their job in Canada
You may be eligible for an open work permit for vulnerable workers if you:
- have a valid employer-specific work permit and
- are being abused or at risk of being abused in any way that is related to your job in Canada
A co-op student on a work term
You’re an international student studying in Canada and doing co-op work placements or internships as part of your study program.
You may be eligible for a co-op work permit, which is an open work permit that lists the institution or school as your employer.
You’re aged 18-35 and would like to travel and work under International Experience Canada
You may be eligible for an open work permit under Working Holiday category of International Experience Canada (IEC).
EMPLOYER-SPECIFIC WORK PERMITS
An employer-specific work permit allows you to work according to the conditions on your work permit, which includes:
- the name of the employer you can work for
- how long you can work
- the location where you can work (if applicable)
If you are not in the Work Permit Exempt category (foreign national who does not require a work permit to work in Canada) and are not eligible for an Open Work Permit (OWP), you may be eligible for an Employer-Specific Work Permit.
Your employer may or may not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to hire you. Most employers need an LMIA before they can hire a temporary foreign worker. An LMIA confirms
- there is a need for a temporary foreign worker
- no Canadians or permanent residents are available to do the job
Once an LMIA has been issued, your employer must provide you a copy of the confirmation letter and tell you to apply for a work permit.
If your employer does not require an LMIA to hire a temporary foreign worker, they must submit an offer of employment form through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC’s) Employer Portal. Your employer must provide you with an offer of employment number before you can apply for a work permit.
Who can apply for an LMIA-Exempt Employer-Specific Work Permit?
You can apply for an LMIA-Exempt Employer-Specific Work Permit if you meet the general eligibility requirements of a work permit and are a:
Worker on a film or television production
- If your work is essential to the film production, the production will create and maintain significant economic benefits for Canadians and permanent residents, and your job is high wage and unionized.
- You may be a researcher, guest lecturer, visiting professor, post-doctoral fellow, award recipient, or other type of academic. The majority of your work in Canada must be teaching or research.
Researcher at certain Canadian institutions
If you will
- Work temporarily for the International Development Research Centre of Canada,
- Be sponsored by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. as a distinguished scientist or post-doctoral fellow,
- Be sponsored by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) or the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) as a distinguished scientist or scholar coming to participate in research for these organizations, or
- Hold a research chair position at a Canadian university. Research chairs must be nominated for their research excellence, and their position must be partially or wholly funded by federal or provincial governments.
Repair or maintenance worker for industrial or commercial equipment
- If you need to enter Canada to make emergency repairs to industrial equipment or repairs to out-of-warranty equipment, and failure to complete these repairs could result in a disruption of employment for Canadians.
- If you provide religious instructions, promote a faith, share the beliefs of the religious community where you’ll work, and follow the spiritual teachings of its faith.
- if your main duties will directly help to relieve poverty, advance education or address another community need and
- you’re being paid, or
- you’re doing an activity that is normally a paid job or would be valuable work experience for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
- cooking at homeless shelters
- providing prenatal instructions to low-income families who cannot afford it
- providing 24/7 residential care in a group home setting to people who have developmental disabilities
- a professional carpenter working on a Habitat for Humanity project
- An office manager working at the head office of a national charitable organization would not be considered a charitable worker.
Overnight camp counsellor
- At an overnight camp, campers and the camp counsellors stay overnight at the camp. Overnight/residential camp counsellors do not need an LMIA.
You’re a camp counsellor if your main duties include supervising and guiding children in summer camp activities, and leading sports, crafts, games and other recreational activities.
A professional athlete or coach
- If Canadians would also be able to work as professional athletes or coaches in your home country
- You must be a professional athlete or coach for a Canadian team
A dancer, actor, orchestral musician or opera singer or someone in a related job
- You’re a performer or worker in a job related to dance, opera, orchestral music, or live theatre
- Your employer must be a Canadian non-profit performing arts company or organization, receive federal funding, and show that reciprocal opportunities exist for Canadians and permanent residents abroad in the same discipline.
An entrepreneur (other than commitment certificate holder under the Start-Up Visa Program)
You intend to operate a business in Canada that would create or maintain:
- significant social, cultural or economic benefits, or
- Jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.
A worker whose employer is applying to hire him or her under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot
You may be eligible for a one-year employer-specific work permit if you have:
- a job offer that is full-time and not seasonal from a designated employer in an Atlantic province
- a referral letter from the provincial government where you will be working, asking IRCC to issue a work permit without needing a Labour Market Impact Assessment, and
- a signed commitment form that shows you will apply for permanent residence under the AIPP within 90 days of applying for your work permit
A provincial or territorial nominee who has not yet applied for permanent residence
- You have a letter from the provincial government confirming that the province has nominated you for permanent residence,
- a job offer from an employer based in that province, and
- a statement from the province that identifies the job and employer and states that:
- you’re urgently needed by your employer, who has offered you a job in that province or territory;
- the job offer is genuine and the job offer will create economic benefits or opportunities;
- the employment is not part-time or seasonal; and
- The wages and working conditions of the employment would be sufficient to attract and retain Canadian citizens.
This provision does not apply if your nomination is as a skilled worker in Quebec
A Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ) holder currently living in the province of Quebec who has not yet applied for permanent residence
You must meet one of the following conditions:
- you need to extend your work permit for your current employer,
- you need a work permit for a new employer in the province of Quebec,
- you’re a foreign student with a post-graduation work permit and have a job offer in the province of Quebec, or
- your work permit was issued under one of International Experience Canada’s categories: Working Holiday; Young Professionals; or International Co-op (Internship)
A worker under a federal-provincial/territorial agreement
Foreign workers entering under a foreign worker annex may be issued a work permit without requiring a LMIA. Employment positions that may be considered for an LMIA exemption must fall under one of the following categories:
- Significant Investment Projects
- Exceptional or Unforeseen Events (e.g., natural disasters) or
- Foreign worker protection
An employee for a foreign diplomatic mission, consular post, foreign government, or international organization (like owner or operator of an international bridge or tunnel)
You will work for:
- a foreign diplomatic mission or consular post
- an international organization
- a foreign government
- an owner or operator of an international bridge or tunnel
An employee being transferred within a company
The intra-company category permits international companies to temporarily transfer qualified employees to Canada for the purpose of improving management effectiveness, expanding Canadian exports, and enhancing competitiveness in overseas markets.
A worker taking part in an exchange or reciprocal program
Some examples include youth exchange programs, teacher exchange programs, commercial airline reciprocal programs, and other joint programs. This does not include staff exchanges for airline staff who are working under a wet lease arrangement.
A French-speaking or bilingual skilled worker who intends to work outside Quebec
You may be eligible for an employer-specific work permit if you:
- will live and work in a Francophone community outside Quebec,
- use French on a daily basis, and
- Will work in a job at a National Occupation Code (NOC) skill level of 0, A or B.
You do not have to work in French to be eligible for this permit. However, ESDC may ask you to complete language testing after you apply. You must get a score of 7 on Test d’évaluation de français (TEF) or the Test de connaissance du français (TCF). When you apply, you should provide a letter of explanation that briefly explains how you meet these requirements.
An entrepreneur who has received a commitment certificate for the Start-up Visa program
You may be eligible for an employer-specific work permit if you:
- plan to live in a province or territory other than Quebec
- have received a Commitment Certificate and a Letter of Support from a designated entity indicating that you are “essential” and there are urgent business reasons for your early entry to Canada (i.e. section 8.0 of the Commitment Certificate is completed) and
- have sufficient funds to meet the low income cut off for your family for 52 weeks
Foreign national aged 18-35 who would like to travel and work under International Experience Canada
You may be eligible for an employer-specific work permit under following two categories of International Experience Canada (IEC):
- International Co-op (Internship) (employer-specific work permit)
- Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit)
A worker under an international agreement
There are two types of international agreements:
- trade agreements
- non-trade agreements
Under an international trade agreement, you will need an employer-specific work permit unless you are a business visitor.
If you’re working under the following non-trade related agreements, you may be eligible for an employer-specific work permit:
- Airline Telecommunication & Information Services (SITA)
- Canada-Bermuda Memorandum of Understanding, Professional Trainees
- Canada-U.S. Understanding of Arrangement
- Cooperative Waterfowl Survey & Banding Program
- International Air Transport Association (IATA)
- International Pacific Halibut Commission
- Jamaica: Seasonal Agricultural Program, Liaison Officers
- Malaysia, Professional Accounting Trainees
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (only applies to workers at Foley Lake, Nova Scotia and Carp, Ontario)
- Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD)
- Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC)
- Roosevelt Campobello International Park
- I am not eligible to work in Canada without a work permit,
- I am not eligible for Open Work Permit, and
- My job is not covered under LMIA-Exemptions?
You can apply for an Employer-Specific Work Permit if you meet the general eligibility requirements of a work permit and your employer obtains a positive LMIA, provides you a copy of the confirmation letter and tells you to apply for a work permit.
Get in Touch for more information or for applying for a work permit.