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HOW TO APPLY FOR A WORK PERMIT IN CANADA

Host Country

CANADA

Target Audience

INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS

Application Overview

Canada is a prime destination for many skilled immigrants who are seeking high-paying employment opportunities. Also, due to reasons like cultural diversity, quality of living, etc, the demand for work permits in Canada is quite high.

The foreign national will first require a job offer at hand in order to apply for a Canadian work permit. Usually, it’s a four-step process as below where the employer may also require some necessary approvals.

About the process

Most foreign nationals need a work permit to work in Canada.

Answer a few questions if you’re not sure if you need a work permit or which one you should get.

There are 2 types of work permits.

Employer-specific work permit

An employer-specific work permit lets you work in Canada according to the conditions on your work permit, such as

  • the name of the specific employer you can work for
  • how long you can work
  • the location where you can work (if applicable)

Before you apply for an employer-specific work permit, your employer must give you

If your employer doesn’t need to use the Employer Portal

If your employer does not need to use the Employer Portal to submit an offer of employment, they must give you a copy of the employment contract.

Open work permit

An open work permit lets you work for any employer in Canada, except for one that

You can only get an open work permit in specific situations.

If you want to bring your family with you

Your spouse or common-law partner  and dependent children may be able to work, study or live with you while you work in Canada.

Bringing your family to Canada with you

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Eligibility requirements for all applicants

There are specific requirements you need to meet depending on where you are when you apply for your work permit.

But regardless of where you apply or which type of work permit you apply for, you must

  • prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your work permit expires;
  • show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada and to return home;
  • obey the law and have no record of criminal activity (we may ask you to give us a police clearance certificate);
  • not be a danger to Canada’s security;
  • be in good health and have a medical exam, if needed;
  • not plan to work for an employer listed with the status “ineligible” on the list of employers who failed to comply with the conditions;
  • not plan to work for an employer who, on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages; and
  • give the officer any other documents they ask for to prove you can enter the country.

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Eligibility requirements if you apply from outside Canada

Anyone can apply before they enter Canada. However, there may be visa office requirements that you need to meet depending on what country or territory you’re applying from. Make sure you follow the instructions for how to apply.

Find out if you can benefit from the Global Skills Strategy’s two-week application processing.

Eligibility requirements if you apply from inside Canada

You can only apply for a work permit from inside Canada if

  • you have a valid study or work permit;
  • your spouse, common-law partner or parents have a valid study or work permit;
  • you’re eligible for a post-graduation work permit and your study permit is still valid;
  • you have a temporary resident permit that is valid for six months or more;
  • you’re waiting on a decision on an application for permanent residence from inside Canada;
  • you made a claim for refugee protection;
  • you’ve been recognized as a convention refugee or protected person by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada;
  • you’re allowed to work in Canada without a work permit but you need a work permit to work in a different job (this does not apply to business visitors); or
  • you’re a trader, investor, intra-company transferee or professional under the Canada – United States – Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
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Eligibility requirements if you apply when you enter Canada at a port of entry

You should apply for your work permit before you travel to Canada.

However, you can apply for a work permit when you enter Canada if you’re eligible.

To apply at a port of entry (POE), you must meet all of the following:

  • be eligible for an electronic travel authorization or to travel without a visitor visa (find out if you need a visa)
  • meet other requirements depending on the type of work permit you’re applying for (see below)

Employer-specific work permit applicants

Your employer must have completed all of the required steps for your employer-specific work permit.

Open work permit applicants

You must be eligible to apply for an open work permit.

COVID-19 border measures have ended

On October 1, 2022, all COVID-19 border requirements, including vaccination, mandatory use of ArriveCAN, and any testing and quarantine or isolation requirements, ended for all travellers entering Canada by land, air or sea.

We’re working to update the information on this page. Learn more about the changes to travel restrictions.

You may also need to take a medical exam before you come to Canada. Find out if you need one.

Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program

If you’ll be working in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, you’re not eligible to apply for a work permit at a POE.

Biometrics

Most applicants aren’t eligible to give their biometrics at a POE.

To give your biometrics at a POE, you must meet 2 requirements:

  • start and finish your application at the same POE
  • be eligible to apply for a work permit at a POE

Eligible applicants can give their biometrics at these POE locations.

How to apply

You need to apply online for a work permit. Answer a few questions to find out how to apply. Where are you applying from?

  • Outside Canada
  • Inside Canada
  • At a port of entry

After you apply

On this page: OFFICIAL WEBSITE

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If you’re outside Canada

Your fingerprints and photo (biometrics)

Temporary changes to biometrics

Book your biometric appointment as soon as you can to avoid processing delays.

If you can’t book an appointment by the deadline on your biometric instruction letter, there may be measures in place to help you.

How we process your application

We’ll check your application to make sure you have all the necessary documents, including biometrics.

If it’s incomplete, we’ll return your application without processing it.

An officer will also check

We may also ask you to

  • go to an interview with our officials in your country, or
  • send more information or documents

Our online application system uses coordinated universal time (UTC). If we ask you to upload documents in your account, you must submit them before midnight UTC on the date the officer gives you. Make sure you know the difference between your local time and UTC.

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You might need a medical exam to enter Canada. If you do, an officer will tell you and will send you instructions on what to do. A medical exam can add over 3 months to the time it takes us to process your application.

Processing time

Varies by country

If your work permit application is approved

You’ll get an approval letter that says you’re allowed to work in Canada. This letter is called the port of entry letter of introduction.

You should bring this letter with you when you travel to Canada and present it at the port of entry. This letter is not your work permit.

You’ll only get your work permit at the port of entry the day you arrive in Canada.

The work permit will outline

  • the type of work you can do
  • the employer you can work for
  • where you can work
  • how long you can work

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If you’re in Canada

How we process your application

We’ll check your application to make sure you have provided all the necessary documents, including biometrics if required.

Temporary changes to biometrics

Book your biometric appointment as soon as you can to avoid processing delays.

If you can’t book an appointment by the deadline on your biometric instruction letter, there may be measures in place to help you.

If it’s incomplete, we’ll return your application without processing it.

An officer will also check

Depending on the type of work you’ll be doing, you might need a medical exam. If you do, an officer will tell you and will send you instructions on what to do. A medical exam can add over 3 months to the time it takes us to process your application.

We may also ask you to send more information.

If you’re a visitor who is applying for a work permit in Canada and held a valid work permit in the last 12 months

You can ask to be allowed to work while we process your application.

Who’s eligible

You must

  • be physically present in Canada when you apply
  • be a visitor with valid status when you apply for the work permit
  • applied for an employer-specific work permit between August 24, 2020, and February 28, 2023
  • have held a work permit that was valid in the 12 months before you applied for a new work permit

How to get authorization to work while you wait

Follow these steps.

Step 1: Contact us

After you apply, fill out the IRCC Web form.

When you fill out the Your enquiry section, you must copy the text below.Message to request interim authorization to work

Make sure you fill out the sections in square brackets, including the

  • dates
  • work permit number (begins with a “U”)
  • name of your employer
  • title of your job

If you applied on paper and don’t know your application number, include your courier tracking number. This will ensure we can find your application.

If you have other questions, you need to fill out a new IRCC Web form.

Step 2: Wait for us to contact you

You must wait for us to email you to let you know that you can start working. This may take up to 30 business days (6 weeks).

If you’re in Canada and your application is approved

If you were eligible to apply for a work permit from within Canada

If you followed the instructions to apply for a work permit from outside Canada

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Symbol of the Government of Canada

There are a few things you should know before you arrive in Canada to work.

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If you’re an International Experience Canada participant, there are special instructions for you.

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On this page

COVID-19 border measures have ended

On October 1, 2022, all COVID-19 border requirements, including vaccination, mandatory use of ArriveCAN, and any testing and quarantine or isolation requirements, ended for all travellers entering Canada by land, air, or sea.

Prepare your documents

When you arrive in Canada, you must have

  • your passport
  • your visitor visa (if you need one) and
  • any travel document(s) you’re carrying

You may also need to show proof that your work permit application was approved. One way to do this is to show the border services officer your port of entry letter of introduction. You’ll get this letter if you

  • applied online or
  • gave us an email address in the work permit application form for communicating with you 

You can print this letter or bring an electronic version with you.

You should also bring supporting documents, such as

  • proof that you meet the requirements of the job, such as proof of work experience and education
  • a copy of your employer’s positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), if required
    • you’ll also need a copy of the certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ), if your employer needed an LMIA and you’ll work in Quebec
  • the offer of employment number your employer received when they submitted the offer of employment through the Employer Portal (if you are LMIA exempt and coming to work for a specific employer)

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When you arrive in Canada

We check your identity

We check your identity to make sure that you’re the same person who was approved to travel to Canada.

  • If you enter Canada at certain Canadian airports
    • your fingerprints will be checked automatically at a primary inspection kiosk
    • the system will check your identity against the information collected when your application was submitted
  • If you enter Canada at smaller airports and all land ports of entry
    • your fingerprints may be checked if we refer you to a secondary inspection, where a border services officer will use a fingerprint verification device to check your fingerprints

You talk to the border services officer

Tell the border services officer that you have come here to work and show the documents you brought with you.

You won’t be allowed into Canada if you give false or incomplete information.

You must also

The officer makes the final decision to issue you a work permit and allow you to enter Canada.

We print your work permit

Once the border services officer has checked your documents and confirms that you can enter Canada, the officer will print the actual work permit for you. If you have questions, or there’s a mistake on your work permit, ask the officer before you leave.

Your passport must be valid for longer than the time you plan to be in Canada. Your work permit won’t be valid beyond your passport’s expiry date. This does not apply to citizens of the United States who show a valid United States passport to the border services officer.

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