Step by Step process to apply for Canada Temporary Work Permit

Getting a Canadian temporary work permit is a multi-step process that can take several weeks. There are a number of different ways to secure a work permit. Depending on one’s nationality, occupation, and intended work in Canada, there may be possibilities for expediting the process. 

In order to be granted a temporary work permit, Canadian employers will need to provide foreign workers either an approval from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) or an Offer of Employment number issued by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 

 Foreign workers may need to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to travel to Canada. 

Step 1: Employer applies for Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) –  Canadian employers who wish to hire temporary foreign worker must obtain a neutral or positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from ESDC, which is issued if ESDC is satisfied that there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident available to do the job. 

Step 2: Employer extends Temporary Job Offer – Once a positive or neutral LMIA is granted, the Canadian employer must provide a copy of the LMIA approval letter along with a detailed job offer letter to the foreign worker, who will need those documents to apply for a work permit. 

Step 3: Foreign Worker applies for Work Permit – With the LMIA approval letter, the job offer letter (and the CAQ if applicable), the foreign worker can submit an application for a Canadian temporary work permit to IRCC. Depending on their country of citizenship, the foreign worker may need to obtain a TRV to travel to Canada, and would therefore need to submit the temporary work permit application at a Canadian visa office abroad. 

Step 4: Obtaining Work Permit – A temporary work permit may be issued for a period of time ranging from a few days to a few years. Most Canadian work permits are employer specific, otherwise referred to as “closed” work permits, and are granted for a specific job in Canada. Consequently, a foreign worker may only work for the employer specified on the work permit. As such, if the foreign worker finds a different employment and does not yet have permanent resident status, the foreign worker must apply for and receive a new work permit prior to changing employers or their position in Canada.

What are the Basic Facts of Work in Canada 

  • A work permit is always temporary in nature, but can often be extended from inside Canada.

  • Generally, Canadian immigration authorities will grant a work permit only if supported by a LMIA approval letter issued by ESDC, indicating that the proposed employment will not adversely affect Canadian workers.

  • For Canadian immigration purposes the definition of “work” is very broad and is defined as an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market, no matter the duration of the intended activity.

  • In most cases a job offer from a Canadian employer is required to apply for a Canadian Work Permit.

  • Canadian immigration regulations allow for Open Work Permits, which are not employer-specific. 

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