Work permits allow you to work and earn a salary in Canada. There are various types, and it is important that you obtain the type of permit that best suits your circumstances.
If you are planning to travel and work in Canada, even on a time limited basis, you should check to see if the work you intend to perform requires a work permit. To do so, you may visit the Canadian government’s immigration website, which includes a handy tool that allows you to determine if you need a permit.
The two major types of work permits in Canada are an open work permit and an employer-specific work permit (also known as a closed permit). There are permits that are created by free trade agreements that Canada has with other countries, and have less robust requirements, such as the NAFTA work permit. There is also the significant benefit permit, which is a program that allows individuals whose entry into Canada will produce clear benefits economically, socially, or culturally.
Types of Work Permits Available in Canada
Open Work Permit
An open work permit allows you to work for any Canadian employer, subject to the limitation that you cannot use an open work permit to work for an employer who is listed as ineligible on the list (link) of employers who have failed to comply with the conditions of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or International Mobility Program. You also may not use an open work permit to work for an employer who offers erotic dancing or escort services.
To obtain an open work permit, you must fall within one of the following categories of people (note: applicants belonging to these categories must meet additional requirements to successfully obtain a permit):
- An international student who has graduated from a recognized learning institution and is eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Program (for details, see here), or a student who is not able to afford the cost of their studies
- An applicant for permanent residence in Canada or the spouse, common-law partner, or dependent family member of someone who is applying for permanent residence
- A spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or international student
- A refugee claimant or their family member
- A young worker participating in special programs, such as the International Experience Class program
Employer-Specific Work Permits
An employer-specific work permit, or a closed permit, are granted to individuals who have an employer who intends to hire them to work in Canada. Much of the work is performed by the employer, who must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment to receive permission to hire a foreign national. A Labour Market Impact Assessment can be obtained from Employment and Social Development Canada, and demonstrates that there are no Canadians who are available to perform the job. Employer-Specific Work permits includes the condition that you must work for the employer who acquired the LMIA, and stipulates where you can work and for how long.
Work Permits based on International Agreements
Canada has signed agreements with different countries around the world that allow for the transfer of people who perform certain occupations to work in Canada more easily. The countries that Canada has agreements with include Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Korea, among others.
One example of such an agreement is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This allows professionals belonging to certain occupational categories to enter Canada more easily. Citizens from countries that are parties to the agreement (the United States and Mexico), are eligible to obtain the permit if they fall within the categories of people covered by the agreement. The broad categories are business visitors, intra-company transferees, traders and investors, and professionals. People with the following professions most commonly qualify for a NAFTA permit: university professors, dentists, nurses, and engineers, among others.
If the prospective employee qualifies for a NAFTA permit, this eliminates the need for the employer to obtain a LMIA prior to the individual entering the country. The process of entry can predominately be handled at the border. The employee must and demonstrate they are a citizen of the US or Mexico, and that the job they are being offered in Canada qualifies under the NAFTA categories.
The NAFTA work permit lasts for three years, but can be renewed.
Significant Benefit Work Permits
The significant benefit work permit program is designed to allow for the entry of foreign nationals who intend to make a significant economic, social or cultural contribution to Canada. Your application to this program will be evaluated based on value of your intended contribution. Applications require a considerable amount of evidence and preparation. The evidence typically includes a business or long term action plan that lays out how the contribution will be made.
You may apply for a significant benefit work permit if you qualify under one of the following categories:
- Canadian Interests. This category is utilized most commonly by artists and other foreign nationals whose major contribution to Canada is not likely to be primarily economic. For example, an artist who wishes to open an exhibit and work in Canada may be able to do so using this category.
- Entrepreneurs and Self Employed Candidates. Individuals that intend to start a business in Canada may qualify under this category. A detailed business and action plan would need to be presented, and it would have to demonstrate the significant economic contribution the business would make.
- Intra-company Transferees. If you work for a multi-national company that has subsidiaries or branch offices in Canada, you may qualify for this category. This category’s purpose is to allow international companies to transfer expertise to Canadian subsidiaries. If you are successful in applying using this category, your employer will be exempted from having to provide a Labour Market Impact Assessment. To qualify, the employee must be currently employed by a multi-national company, plan to work in Canada for a significant period of time (typically 18-24 months), and be transferring into an executive or senior managerial position, or a role that requires specialized knowledge. You must have also been employed by the parent company in a full-time position for the period of one year within the three years that precede the date of your application.
- Emergency Repairs. This category is designed to allow for foreign nationals with specialized expertise in repairing machinery or other industrial equipment to perform work in Canada.
Due to the labour intensive and complex nature of this type of application, it is highly recommended that you obtain the services of an experienced immigration lawyer to assist you, should you wish to seek entry into Canada via this avenue.
If you are considering applying for a permit to work in Canada, please contact DUVADIE Law at 613-422-1155 or Toll-Free at 1-855-422-1155.
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