Toronto is the top destination for immigrants to Canada, but in the last several years, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) have toughened the rules for temporary work permits, making sure that jobs offered to temporary residents do not impact Canadians and the Canadian job market in an adverse way. That means that any employer that offers you a job that can mean working and living in Canada for a period of up to 4 years, must prove to the authorities in Canada that there are not eligible Canadians willing to accept the job. But there are jobs waiting for you in Canada, especially in Toronto, if you meet the newer and tougher requirements. Close to 200,000 immigrants come to Canada each year on work permits. To ensure you allow yourself the best chance possible at obtaining a work permit, it is very important to understand the requirements and the steps that must be taken to obtain the permit. And remember, the rules are always subject to change, so it is vital to stay on top of any new regulations that may be put in place by Canadian authorities. Toronto beckons, so make the effort to inform yourself on how to get that temporary work permit, and how you can use it as a step to permanent residence.


Your Temporary Work Permit

Ottawa by

Ottawa by Brian Burke / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The first step towards working in Toronto is to get a temporary work permit. That itself involves several steps, but before you go about these steps, you will need a job offer from an employer in Canada. There are several ways to achieve this, one of which involves coming to the country as a legitimate tourist and making enquiries, but the work permit will have to be applied for from outside of Canada.

So let’s assume that you have a job offer waiting for you in Toronto. Good for you! But the process is just starting. You now have several steps that must be undertaken before you can get that visa and come to Canada to start working at your new job.

Get a Work Permit to Canada


LMIA: Labour Market Impact Assessment

An LMIA shows whether there are Canadians available for any given job, or if a foreign worker is needed. Certain types of foreign workers, however, are LMIA-exempt and are classified under the International Mobility Program. Some examples of LMIA-exempt foreign workers would be:

  • International students who have graduated from a Canadian institution.
  • People authorized to work temporarily in Canada as a result of NAFTA.
  • International Experience Canada participants.
  • Permanent Resident applicants settling in Canada and awaiting authorization.
  • Spouses of highly-skilled foreign workers.

If you do need an LMIA, you will require one as a foreign worker applying under the Temporary Foreign Worker, or TFW, program. As mentioned, that means your future employer must now apply for a LMIA with the nearest Service Canada centre. If you are a low-wage foreign worker, the maximum you can stay in Canada is 24 months and the requirements for you and your employer are stricter than for highly-skilled and high-wage occupations. Your employer must prove to the authorities that they will transition to a Canadian workforce once your temporary work permit expires. You may be able to extend your stay in Canada, as well as apply for permanent residence, at this point. We will cover this vital point a few paragraphs below.


Temporary Job Offer

Streetcar track construction By Richard Eriksson [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Construction in Toronto by Richard Eriksson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Once your future employer has received a positive LMIA, then the next step is they send a copy of the LMIA along with a Job Offer Letter to you. This job offer letter, along with the associated copy of the LMIA as well as identity documents and other documents required by CIC have to be sent with your work permit application form that is then sent to the Canadian immigration authorities. It may also include a temporary visa, as well as proof of a medical examination, depending on what country you are a citizen of and what country you are applying from. Remember, your job offer letter is proof of your employment in Canada and must contain all relevant details such as: duration of work, job duties, as well as salary and name and address of employer. 


Application for a Work Permit

Having mailed off your application, you may have to submit to an interview with a visa officer to ensure that your job doesn’t impact adversely on Canadian workers. As stated above, you may be required to undergo a medical examination as well.


Final Approval

Once CIC has reviewed your application and deemed it legitimate and not detrimental to the Canadian labour market, you will receive a package with any documents you had to submit with your application, along with a letter of introduction. This letter is not a guarantee of acceptance into Canada, however. The final approval and work permit will be issued by the immigration authorities upon your arrival at a Canadian port of entry.


From Temporary Worker to Permanent Resident

Having now worked in Canada for up to 4 years, depending on whether you are a high-wage or low-wage worker, you now would like to take the next step and apply for Permanent Residence in Canada. There are 3 options to obtain your permanent residence: the Federal Skilled Worker program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Ontario Provincial Nominee Program, or PNP. 

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program: Starting in January, 2015, you will need to apply for the federal skilled worker program through the Express Entry System by completing an online profile and meeting the selection criteria that enable you to qualify as a skilled worker. You will be judged on your language skills, English and/or French, your education and your age, as well as work experience. Adaptability and arranged employment are also important factors taken into account. You will need a score of at least 67 out of 100 in order to qualify under the current system. Essentially, you will be ranked according to your chances of being economically successful in Canada against others in the pool you are placed in. Only the most qualified will be accepted for PR status. Clearly, the higher your level of education as well the more specialized your job skills are, the better your chances. Please note that you must be admissible to Canada and not present security, human rights violations, criminal and other concerns to immigration officials. Once you have been invited to apply for PR status, you will have 60 days to apply under the federal skilled worker program.
  • Canadian Experience Class: This program is designed to allow people with Canadian work experience to become permanent residents. As with the federal skilled worker program, you will have to apply through the Express Entry System, starting in January of 2015. To qualify for CEC, you must:
    • Plan to live outside of Quebec.
    • Have 12 months of continuous full-time, or the equivalent in part-time, work experience within the last 3 years leading up to your application, and with the proper authorization – that means with a temporary work permit.
    • Meet the necessary language skills for the job you are applying for: speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension.
    • Please note that you can work in Canada while your application is being processed as a CEC candidate.
  • Provincial Nominee Program: This program allows provinces and territories to nominate workers who meet specific local labour needs. As with the other 2 programs, you have the option of applying through the Express Entry System, which tends to lower waiting times by a few months in a majority of cases. Provincial Nominee Programs, or PNP’s, tend to fall into 1 of 5 categories:
    • Skilled workers.
    • Semi-skilled workers.
    • Business/investors.
    • International student graduates.
    • Family or community connections.

There are usually at least one employer-driven streams under the nominee programs where business owners seeking workers can use the PNP in their province, in this case Ontario, to find a suitable worker. Having already worked in Canada, you are one step ahead in terms of proving to CIC that you can economically establish yourself in Canada. Also, you may wish to see if you can find an employer in the Toronto area who is willing to nominate you for a job at their business. The option of using the Express Entry System will be available as of January, 2015. Please note that once you are nominated by Ontario, or any other province or territory, you will automatically have enough points to qualify for an application for PR status, unlike the skilled worker program, where you must earn them in an assessment done by CIC. Once you have been invited, you then submit an electronic application for PR status to the CIC.

Unfortunately, Ontario’s PNP has not been a resounding success, especially among skilled workers who are choosing provinces like Saskatchewan and Alberta over Ontario. The program has been underutilized in the province. As well, almost 40% of Ontario residents recently polled expressed support for lower immigration levels, while 38% supported keeping levels about the same. That’s well over two thirds of the population who are neutral at best. That means you will have your work cut out for you to take advantage of the nominee program in Ontario, but if successful, it will be worth the effort.

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