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Work Permits


Over 150,000 foreigners come to work in Canada every year.

Many of these workers stay temporarily to advance their skills, experience and career opportunities before returning to their home country. Others apply and successfully obtain their Permanent Residency.

LMIA Required Work Permits

Many jobs require a Canadian employer to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This requires the employer to recruit nationally first following strict guidelines and apply for an assessment to whether or not the hiring of a foreign worker will have a negative impact on Canada’s labour market.

LMIA Exempt Work Permits

There are many programs that allow foreign workers to obtain a work permit without an LMIA. Some of the most common LMIA-exempt permits are:

Intra-Company Transferee

The Intra-Company Transferee category allows international companies to temporarily transfer qualified employees to Canada for the purpose of improving management effectiveness, expanding Canadian exports, and enhancing the competitiveness of Canadian entities in overseas markets.

International Trade Agreements

The most common trade agreement that brings foreign workers to Canada is the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In addition to supporting the entry of business visitors, intra-company transferees, and investors, there is a list of professionals who can obtain a work permit with a Canadian employer without an LMIA. Other trade agreements that support the entry of foreign workers are the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), Canada-Peru, Canada-Chile, Canada-Colombia, and Canada-Korea international trade agreements.

Provincial/Territorial Agreements

When a foreign national is nominated by the province or territory through a nomination program for permanent residency, the province can provide support to obtain a work permit while the applicant’s permanent residency application is in process.

International Experience Canada

International Experience Canada allows foreign nationals between 18-35 years old from selected countries to travel and work in Canada for up to two years. There are three categories under IEC Work Permit: Working Holiday; Young Professionals; and Co-op Work Permit.

Accompanying Spouse Work Permit

When a common-law partner or spouse accompanies a student or worker to Canada, it may be possible that spouse to obtain an open work permit valid for the same duration as the other spouse’s study or work permit.

Student Off-Campus Work Permit

Students studying full-time for 6 months or longer at a designated post-secondary or vocational learning institute are eligible to work up to 20 hours per week and 40 hours during school holidays. No work permit is required.

Student Post-graduate Work Permit

A Post-Graduation Work Permit allows graduates from a post-secondary institution to work for up to 3 years, depending on the length of their study program. This is a temporary worker program.

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