What are the requirements to apply for a work permit in Canada?

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no one specific set of requirements for those seeking to apply for a work permit for Canada. The eligibility requirements differ depending on the type of work you intend to do and whether you apply from inside or outside Canada. However, there are a few general requirements that are applicable to all work permit applicants. An applicant must:

  • prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your work permit expires,
  • show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada and to return home,
  • obey the law and have no record of criminal activity (a police clearance certificate may be required),
  • not be a danger to Canada’s security,
  • be in good health and have a medical exam, if needed,
  • not plan to work for an employer listed with the status “ineligible” on the list of employers who failed to comply with the conditions,
  • not plan to work for an employer who, on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages, and
  • give the officer any other documents they ask for to prove you can enter the country.

Anyone can apply for a work permit from outside Canada. If you need a visa to enter Canada or if you need to have a medical exam before entering Canada, then it is mandatory to apply to a visa office outside Canada.

You may only apply for a work permit from inside Canada if you:

  • are currently in Canada and have a valid study or work permit, or your spouse or parents have a study or work permit,
  • have a temporary resident permit that is valid for six months or more,
  • have applied or been included in an application for permanent residence from inside Canada,
  • have graduated from a program at a designated learning institution,
  • have asked for refugee status in Canada and are waiting for a decision,
  • have been recognized as a convention refugee or protected person,
  • have had your refugee claim rejected but you cannot be removed from Canada for reasons beyond your control, or
  • are allowed to work in Canada without a work permit but you need a work permit to work in a different job.

It is important to note that a work permit is not a visa. It does not give you the right to board your flight to Canada. Along with your permit, you may need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to Canada.

In most instances, a foreign worker will require a job offer from a Canadian employer to obtain a work permit. A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker. In these instances, a foreign worker will need a job offer letter, an employment contract, a copy of the LMIA and the LMIA number to apply for a work permit.

There are two types of work permits: open work permits and employer-specific work permits. An open work permit will allow you to work for any Canadian employer in any industry except for those who are listed as ineligible on the list of employers who have failed to comply with conditions, or who offer escort or erotic services. An open work permit is not linked to a specific employer, location or position. You may be eligible for an open work permit if you fall into one of the following situations:

  • a permanent residence applicant who has applied to an office in Canada,
  • dependent family members of some permanent residence applicants,
  • spouses and common-law partners of some workers and international students,
  • refugees, refugee claimants, protected persons and their family members,
  • some temporary resident permit holders, or
  • some young workers participating in special programs

In each of these situations, you must meet additional criteria to be eligible for an open work permit.

An employer-specific work permit requires the holder of the permit to only work for the employer listed on the permit. Holders of employer-specific work permits must also comply with the conditions outlined on the permit, which includes how long they can work and the location where they can work, where applicable.

We can help you decide which work permit best suits your circumstances. For a detailed assessment of your immigration options, contact us for a consultation by emailing us at [email protected] or by calling 416-847-3347.