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Working in Canada: Permits, Eligibility, and Application Process

Foreign nationals looking to work in Canada usually need a work permit, although there are exceptions to this rule.

To apply for a work permit, most applicants require a Canadian job offer backed by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). However, certain cases allow for a work permit application without an LMIA or job offer. These exceptions include recent graduates from a Canadian Designated Learning Institute (DLI) and spouses of individuals holding Canadian work or study permits.

Candidates eligible for work permits must also meet the following criteria:

  1. Demonstrate intent to leave after work permit expiry.

  2. Prove sufficient funds for support in Canada and return home.

  3. Have no criminal or medical inadmissibility.

  4. Intend to work with an eligible employer.

  5. Provide requested eligibility documents.

Types of Work Permit

  1. Requiring an LMIA:

    • Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)
    • Facilitated LMIA (Quebec)
    • Global Talent Stream
  2. LMIA-Exempt but requiring job offer:

    • International Mobility Program (IMP)
    • NAFTA Work Permits
    • CETA Work Permits
    • Intra-Company Transfers
  3. Open Work Permits (no job offer or LMIA):

    • Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP)
    • Spousal Sponsorship from Inside Canada
    • International Experience Canada (IEC)
    • Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP)
    • Spouse Accompanying International Student or Worker

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How to Apply for a Canadian Work Permit

Application processes vary based on the permit type. Some international students automatically get work authorization as part of their study permit.

Most closed work permit applications need a job offer and LMIA. LMIA-exempt applicants must still prepare documents for entry. Two pathways exist: closed and open work permits.

Job Offer and Eligibility:

Having a job offer doesn’t guarantee work permit eligibility. It should be backed by a positive LMIA or be LMIA-exempt.

Working Conditions and Family Inclusion:

Work permit conditions vary based on permit type. Family members can accompany workers, with spouses eligible for open work permits and children attending schools without study permits.


Cost and application processing time

Fees vary by permit type. Application procedures differ as well, but eligibility documents must be submitted. This includes:

  • Application forms
  • Proof of status
  • LMIA or job offer
  • Resume/CV
  • Relevant certificates/documents
  • Financial proof
  • Passport copy
  • Biometrics (for some)

Processing times differ based on permit and country of residence. LMIA and regular processing times vary.

Common Refusal Reasons:

Refusals can happen due to work inadequacy, return intent doubts, or failure to meet criteria.

Extending a Work Permit:

Extensions are common, requiring online application at least 30 days before expiry.