Want to Work in Canada?



Do I need a work permit?

Whether or not you need a work permit will depend on two factors, the first being if the Canadian administration will consider what you intend to do as “work”.

For the purpose of Canadian immigration, work is defined as an activity for which wages or commissions are paid OR an activity that competes directly with activities of Canadian in the Canadian labor market.

In other words, if you receive any kind of payment for what you’ll be doing, you are working in the eyes of the Canadian administration. And if you don’t, you may still be deemed to be working if you are taking away opportunities for Canadians, or are engaging in a business activity that is competitive in the marketplace. As well, a lot will depend on the hours you’ll spend doing this activity and how long you intend to do it.

If you will be working, it is possible that you won’t need a work permit. Indeed, certain categories of people are exempt from the requirement to obtain a work permit, if they meet all the criteria. For instance, there are exemptions for business visitors, certain categories of students, performing artists, clergy, etc.

Unsure if you what you will be doing will be considered work, or unsure whether you fall under one of the exemptions? Book a consultation, we’re happy to help!


How do I get a work permit?

There are two different types of work permits issued by the Canadian authorities: open work permits and employer specific work permits.

Open work permits are the exception, as they allow a person to work in most professions for any employer in Canada. They are issued, amongst others, to participants in the International Experience Canada, spouses of skilled foreign workers or foreign students and some categories of people who have applied for permanent residence within Canada.

Employer specific work permits usually require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). If so, obtaining the LMIA becomes the first step.

However, exemption for the LMIA requirement do exist – for instance, because you are an intra-company transferee, a NAFTA professional, a Francophone qualified worker with a job offer outside of Québec or a participant of the Young Professionals category of the IEC. In that case, your employer will need to extend an official job offer through the employer work portal before you can apply for your work permit.

If you need an LMIA, your future employer will need to file for this first. As well, in most cases where an LMIA is required, you will also need a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec if you intend to work in the province of Québec.

In most cases, your future employer will need to prove that they have conducted recruitment efforts to hire Canadians and Permanent Residents before offering the job to a foreigner. An exception to this exists for professions in high demand in the province of Québec. As well, in order to protect Canadian workers’ wages, the wage you are offered must the same or higher than the prevailing wage for that job in the region you will be working, and must be compliant with collective agreements, if the position you are offered is unionized. Furthermore, if the wage offered to you is above the provincial or territorial median hourly wage, your employer will most likely have to provide a transition plan in which they identify the activities they agree to undertake to recruit, retain and train Canadians or the activities they’ll undertake to assist you to become a permanent resident. If the wage you are offered is below the provincial or territorial median hourly wage – but the same or higher than the wage offered for that job in the region you’ll be working – your employer will be subjected to a maximum number of foreign workers he can employ, and will have certain obligations in terms of your transport and housing.

Obtaining an LMIA takes on average between 10 to 16 weeks. However, some applications are given priority and can be processed within ten business days.

Once you have your LMIA or job offer, or, if you don’t need one, you will need to apply for a work permit. Depending on your situation, including your citizenship and the type of program you are applying under, it may be possible for you to apply for your work permit at the border, which would allow you to bypass the processing time. If that is not an option, you will need to file an application in paper or online.

Are you or your employer unsure about what procedure to follow, or do you or your employer want help with the applications to be made? Book a consultation, we’re happy to help!



One particularity of the Canadian Immigration system is the role of Québec.

As you may or may not know, Quebec is the Francophone province of Canada. Due to its distinct cultural and linguistic identity, Quebec has obtained the right to select its own immigrants by virtue of the Canada-Québec Accord relating to Immigration and Temporary admission of Aliens.

As a consequence, most temporary foreign workers will need to obtain a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) if they want to work in Québec. The application for the CAQ is done at the same time as the application for the Labour Market Impact Assessment, and is usually only required if the latter is required. Both you and your employer will have to fill in forms, but these will need to be submitted together.

If your intended profession in Québec is considered in high demand in Québec, a simplified procedure applies for the LMIA/CAQ application. Indeed, your employer will still need to make efforts to recruit Canadian workers, but does not need to submit evidence of this when he makes the LMIA application. As well, all applications for the professions in high demand are considered high-wage applications, meaning that there is no cap on the number of foreign workers, nor is there always a need to submit a transition plan.

Are you or your employer unsure if a CAQ is necessary, if you may qualify for the simplified procedure? or you or your employer want help with the applications to be made? Book a consultation, we’re happy to help!

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