• published on 3/1/2023
  • 6min

Working in Canada: get your work permit!

In order to counter an unprecedented labour shortage, the Canadian government is developing an ambitious immigration programme, with the objective of 465,000 new permanent residents in 2023, 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025! However, managing this flow of foreign residents requires close supervision: to this end, rules relating to access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) are applicable. Are you about to begin looking for a job in Canada, or have you just secured a position? You will probably need to apply for a work permit. You might find the procedure rather confusing at first, so read on to learn more about it!

Working in Canada: get your work permit!

Are you sure you need a work permit?

A work permit is a document issued by a Canadian government officer. It allows a foreigner who isn’t a permanent resident to work in Canada. Work permits usually are valid for a specific job and length of time. Temporary residents usually cannot work in Canada for over 4 years.

In some cases, a work permit is not required to take up a job in Canada. For example, this exemption is valid if you plan to work on campus during your studies in Canada, or if you are an artist about to perform in Canada. Remember to check the Government of Canada website to find out whether or not your job category needs a work permit.

What documents should the Canadian employer supply?

To apply for a work permit, you must be able to prove that you’ve landed a job in Canada and that you meet the job’s requirements. Your prospective employer in Canada must provide a job offer letter or a contract mentioning the job title, the salary, and the working conditions.

The Canadian employer must generally obtain permission from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) before hiring a temporary foreign worker. This authorization is called the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The idea is to put Canadian workers first. The employer will have to prove that he or she has tried to hire a Canadian before seeking a foreign candidate. LMIA processing fees are  $1,000 CAD per worker. If an LMIA is not required, employers still will need to pay the employer compliance fee ($230 CAD) and provide an Offer of employment to a foreign national exempt from a labour market impact assessment.

How should you submit your work permit application?

Have you just received your letter of employment, and are you looking forward to starting your job in Canada? Take a look at the essential steps of the work permit application.

1. Gather all required documents.

Although the list of required documents may vary depending on your situation, you will always need to provide:

  • a valid passport (or in some cases, a copy of the identification pages),

  • 2 photos,

  • the Offer of employment to a foreign national exempt from a labour market impact assessment with proof of payment of the employer compliance fee, where applicable,

  • a copy of the LMIA, where applicable, and a copy of your job offer letter,

  • a copy of the Certificat d'acceptation du Québec (CAQ) if the position obtained is in Quebec,

  • proof that you meet the job requirements,

  • payment of the application processing fee ($155 CAD),

  • proof of funds available.

2. Complete the forms.

Several forms must be completed:

  • Application for Work Permit Made Outside of Canada,

  • Document Checklist,

  • Family Information,

  • Application for Temporary Resident Visa, if you aren’t a citizen of a visa-exempt country.

Depending on your situation, additional forms may be required.

3. Submit your application.

Your application for a work permit must be submitted online, on a dedicated platform, or alternatively at a Canadian visa office or Visa Application Centre (VAC).

4. Submit your biometric data

Since 31 July 2018, it has been compulsory to submit your biometric data when applying for a work permit. However, these data are valid for 10 years: if you have already submitted them recently, for example when applying for a visa, you will not have to do so again until the next decade. For a fee of $85 CAD, you will receive a letter of instruction to go and register your biometric data at a VAC.

Acronym recap

TFW: Temporary Foreign Worker

TFWP: Temporary Foreign Worker Program

TRV: Temporary Resident Visa

LMIA: Labour Market Impact Assessment

ESDC: Employment and Social Development Canada

VAC: Visa Application Center

To find out more about Canadian work permits

Get detailed information about the steps you must take to be able to work in Canada on the Government of Canada website.

Wondering where to send your application? Use the interactive map of Canadian visa centres abroad.