Work Permits

Regulations and application process

Work Permits

Canada is a very popular destination for skilled workers. This section describes who qualifies to obtain a work permit in Canada, the procedures and other regulations.

Every year, almost 100,000 temporary foreign workers enter Canada to work in jobs where there are temporary skill shortages. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)  allocate visas depending on the need for such workers and the benefit that they are expected to provide to the Canadian economy. Almost all cases of temporary work in Canada require the worker to possess a valid work permit.

Who requires a work permit?

Several conditions must be satisfied in order to qualify for a work permit. Firstly, you must receive a job offer from a Canadian employer. When the offer is received, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)  usually provide a labour market ‘opinion’ or simply their confirmation of your job offer. HRSDC  determines whether the job offer is legitimate and if it is the right thing for the Canadian labour market for you to be hired. For example, if there is a shortage of computer programmers and you have the skills, you will be more likely to have an application approved.

Some individuals may be exempt from satisfying some conditions for work permit issue. You may obtain a work permit without the confirmation from HRSDC  if you belong to any of the following groups:

  • Professionals, traders and investors who are citizens of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries. This regulation also allows the issuance of work permits to people who enter Canada under other types of international agreements.
  • Some types of entrepreneurs, intra-company transferees and other types of workers, who will provide significant benefit to Canadians or permanent residents by working in Canada.
  • Persons whose employment in Canada provides similar employment to Canadians abroad, such as participants in youth exchange programs, exchange teachers and other reciprocal programs.
  • Foreign students studying in Canada who need to work in order to fulfill co-op placements.
  • Spouses and common-law partners of skilled foreign workers, spouses and common-law partners of certain foreign students, spouses and common-law partners of a person doing post-graduation employment for certain foreign students and post-doctoral fellows.
  • Persons undertaking charitable or religious work.
  • Certain persons who need to support themselves while they are in Canada for other reasons such as the refugee determination process and certain persons who have been accepted for permanent residence in Canada.

Additional Requirements

In order to be able to work legally in Canada, you must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card. This card can be obtained from the HRSDC  by presenting your passport and a valid work permit.

Further reading

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