Canadian work permits are temporary resident visas issued to foreign workers by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. They are used to grant permission to work for foreign workers who have a job offer in Canada. Work permits are typically issued for one year, but this can depend on the type of permit issued and the duration of the work assignment or project. It may also be affected by the passport validity of the foreign worker.
Work permits are necessary in every province and territory in Canada, and additional permissions may be required for workers seeking employment in Quebec. Some exemptions exist in which these foreign workers would not have to obtain a work permit, but most standard jobs will require them. Work permits can lead to permanent resident status as long as the employment is skilled. Foreign workers seeking employment in Canada may also need to obtain an entry visa depending on where they currently live.
With certain exceptions, before a work permit can be applied for by a foreign worker, the Canadian employer making the job offer must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from the federal human resources authorities. The purpose of the LMIA process is to demonstrate that there is no Canadian worker available for the employment position before the company hires a foreign worker, thereby protecting the Canadian labour market. Before an LMIA is applied for, the Canadian employer must advertise the position for a month to see if any Canadians are available to take the position. If the employer cannot find a Canadian, then the LMIA can be applied for. The human resources authorities typically take about two months to process an LMIA request once it is received. So between advertising and the LMIA process, there is about three months of processing.
Once the LMIA is approved, the foreign worker can apply for a work permit. Processing times for work permits can vary greatly depending on where they are submitted and the type of application. Applications submitted inside of Canada (extensions to already issued work permits) usually take about 38 days for a paper application and about 25 days for an online application, as of August 2014.
Processing times on applications submitted to visa offices outside of Canada depend greatly on where you are. Please see below for the average processing times (in months) for various countries around the world. Note that these are August 2014 numbers. The times are based on how long it took to process 80 percent of all cases between April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, and are subject to change:
Africa and Middle East
Asia and Pacific