What are the Different Types of Work Permits in Canada?

Work Permits in Canada

Getting a work permit could allow you to live and earn money in Canada. Before you apply for a work permit, though, you should learn about the different types. That way, you can choose a permit that fits your future plans and your unique skills.

Work Permit Exemptions

Some jobs do not require work permits. People performing these jobs can work for a short period of time as long as they enter the country legally. Some jobs that do not require permits include:

  • athletes and coaches working for foreign teams
  • aviation investigators
  • clergy members
  • expert witnesses
  • health care students

Labour Market Opinions

Most people, however, need to file for a permit before they can work and receive wages in Canada.

To get the permit, you must already have an employer operating in Canada. This employer will likely need to have a Labor Market Opinion (LMO) hire you. Doing so gives your employer a document saying that he, she, or it has permission to hire a foreign employee. To obtain an LMO, an employer has to demonstrate to the Canadian government that there are no Canadians available to fill the employment position. This requires the employer to advertise nationally for the position prior to applying for the LMO.

Student Work Permit

Foreign students studying in Canada can apply for student work permits. A student does not need a work permit as long as they are working on campus. To be eligible for an Off-Campus Work Permits the student needs to be enrolled in full time studies, and have completed at least six months of his/her studies. An Off-Campus Work Permit is a part-time work permit that allows a student to work for up to 20 hours a week while studying.

Once a student has completed a program of study, an application for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) can be made, which will provide the student with an open, full time work permit that will enable them to work in any job they can find. These work permits are tied to the duration of the prior term of study and may be valid for up to three years. After working in a skilled occupation for at least one year, students who obtained a PGWP can potentially apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Spousal Work Permits

Spouses or common-law partners of student or workers in Canada may apply for an open work permit to allow them to work in Canada for the same duration as the study permit or work permit of their spouse or partner.

Seek advice if you need a work permit

This is not an exhaustive list of the types of work permits available to foreign nationals wishing to work in Canada, but provides a brief review of some of the main categories. For further information about working in Canada, speak to an immigration lawyer such as Matthew Jeffery. Note that in most cases it is necessary to have a job offer before a work permit can be applied for. Lawyers like Matthew Jeffery do not find jobs for people interested in working in Canada, but can help you to apply for a work permit if you have already obtained a job offer and are otherwise qualified.