Work Permits


Under Canadian immigration law, a foreign national who wishes to work in Canada, will normally be required to obtain either a business visitor visa, or a work permit. A work permit is a document issued by the Canadian immigration authorities which permits a foreign national to work in Canada for a specified period of time. There are many different types of work permits.

Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). A LMIA is a work permit approval document which is issued by the Canadian federal labour authorities to an employer in Canada who wishes to fill a job position where the employer is unable to find a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the job position. The employer will normally be required to advertise the job position to determine whether there are any qualified and available Canadian candidates. Once a LMIA is issued, it can be used by the employer to obtain a confirmed work permit for a qualified foreign worker. Due to its complexity, the LMIA is considered to be the work permit of last resort and is normally only used if no other type of work permit is available.

Intra-Company Transferee (ICT) Work Permit. This work permit allows foreign nationals who are employed by multinational corporations or organizations to be transferred to a related business or organization in Canada (a parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch of the foreign employer). The foreign national must be assigned to the Canadian organization in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge position, and must have been employed by the foreign employer for not less than one year during the preceding three years.

NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) Professional Work Permit. This work permit is available to U.S. and Mexican citizens who qualify under one of the 60+ NAFTA professional occupations listed in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The foreign national must be employed under an agreement with the Canadian employer, and must work for the Canadian employer in their occupation or in a closely related occupation.

NAFTA Investor Work Permit. This work permit is available where a U.S. or Mexican owned enterprise has made or wishes to make a substantial investment in establishing or acquiring a Canadian business and wishes to assign a Mexican or U.S. citizen to develop and direct the Canadian business.

NAFTA Trader Work Permit. This work permit is available where a U.S. or Mexican owned enterprise which carries on substantial business in Canada through a related Canadian company or entity wishes to assign a Mexican or U.S. citizen to a senior-level executive or managerial position with the Canadian organization.

CETA Work Permit. This work permit, which is available to EU citizens under the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement (CETA), allows for work permits to be issued to a wide range of individuals and corporate employees, including, investors, contractual services suppliers, independent professionals, intra-corporate transferees, specialized knowledge personnel, and graduate trainees.

Other Free Trade Agreement Work Permits (Chile, Peru, Columbia and Korea). Canada has entered into free trade agreements with Chile, Peru, Columbia and Korea to allow qualified citizens of each country to work in Canada.

C10 Significant Benefit to Canada Work Permit. The C10 significant benefit to Canada work permit allows a Canadian employer to hire a foreign worker who will be performing work that will result in significant social, cultural or economic benefit to Canada.

Spousal Work Permits. A spousal work permit is available to spouses or common law partners of work permit holders who are performing executive, managerial and professional activities in Canada. Spousal work permits are also normally available to spouses or common law partners of foreign students who are study permit holders and who are pursuing full-time post-secondary studies in Canada.

Post-Graduate Work Permits. Post-graduate work permits are available to qualified graduates of Canadian post-secondary institutions who wish to acquire work experience in Canada. Canadian work experience can also be used by the work permit holder to improve their prospects for obtaining Canadian permanent residence.

Depending on their citizenship, a foreign national who enters Canada as a business visitor or on a work permit will normally be required to obtain prior to entering Canada either: a temporary resident visa (TRV); or, if entering by air, an electronic travel authorization (eTA). U.S. citizens are exempt from this requirement.