Occupations in Canada that are Work-Permit Exempt

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In Canada, there are certain occupations, all of a temporary or event-specific nature, that are exempt from the requirement of a work permit or job offer. You must ensure you meet the requirements in each case on the following list, however. The list includes a wide variety of occupations, from street performers to visiting academics. Who knows? You may be on that list. So here then, are those occupations for which you do not need a work permit to work in Canada:

  • Athletes and Coaches: If you are a foreign athlete or coach coming to participate in a sports event in Canada, you are exempt from a work permit.
  • Aviation accident or incident investigators: If you are an accredited investigator or adviser working on the investigation of an accident or incident in aviation, and the investigation is being done under the Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act, then you do not require a work permit.
  • Business visitors: Please note this is not the same as Business People, and is a more narrow classification. A business visitor is someone who plans to visit Canada temporarily to: see how to grow a business, or to invest, or to advance business relationships. You must also find out if you need a Temporary Resident Visa in order to visit Canada for your business trip. Go here to see if you need a visa, and please note that there is no separate visa application for business visitors, so you need to apply for the same kind of temporary resident visa as everyone else. To qualify for the exemption, you must prove that:
    • You will stay for less than 6 months.
    • You will not enter the Canadian labour market.
    • Your main place of business, and source of income and profits, is outside of Canada.
    • You have documentation to support your application.
    • You meet Canada’s basic requirements for entry like a valid passport or other ID, enough cash for your stay, and are not a criminal, health, or security risk to Canadians.
    • Some examples of the type of cross-border business you might be engaged in as a business visitor would be: purchasing Canadian goods & services for a foreign business, managing after-sales service, or training employees of a Canadian branch of a foreign company.
  • Civil Aviation inspectors: if you are an investigator responsible for checking operational safety or cabin safety of an international commercial flight, you are exempt from a work permit.
  • Clergy: If you work as an ordained minister, or layperson, or as a member of a religious order, then you are not required to have a work permit to enter Canada. This can involve things like preaching doctrine, or leading worship, or giving spiritual counselling.
  • Convention Organizers: If you are organizing or are in charge of running an international meeting or convention, then you are exempt from needing a work permit. If you provide so-called “hands on” services at these events – for example: audiovisual services, decorating, or setting up and taking down displays – then you will need a work permit to enter Canada and perform this type of work.
  • Crew members: If you are a member of a transportation crew such as: a truck or bus driver, or a shipping or airline worker, then you are exempt from a work visa. This is as long as the vehicles are foreign-owned and foreign-registered, and are used mainly to transport cargo and passengers internationally. Also, your work as member of the crew has to be related to operating the vehicle or serving passengers.
  • Emergency service providers: If you are providing help during an emergency and are in Canada to help preserve life or property, then you do not need a work permit. Types of emergencies could include floods, earthquakes, or forest fires, as well as industrial accidents that threaten the environment.
  • Examiners and evaluators: If you are a professor or academic expert who is supervising or evaluating an academic project, a research proposal, or university theses, then you are exempt from a work permit. You may also work for a Canadian research group or a Canadian school.
  • Expert witnesses or investigators: If you are an expert who will give evidence before a regulatory body, a tribunal, or before a court of law, you are exempt from a work permit.
  • Family members of foreign representatives: If you are the spouse or a child of a foreign representative (see below) then you are exempt from a work permit. You must, however, be accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development – theDFATD – with a counterfoil in your passport. This is essentially a stamp in your passport. You will also need a letter of no objection from DAFTD. Go here for more information.
  • Foreign government officers: If you are the employee of a foreign government for which Canada has an exchange agreement with, you do not need a work permit. These agreements allow officials to work in each other’s government departments. If you are going to work in Canada for more than 3 months you will need a formal letter from the appropriate authorities.
  • Foreign representative: If you are a diplomat or official representative of a foreign country or of the United Nations, or a member of their staff, then you do not need a work permit.
  • Health care students: If you are a foreign health care student doing a clinical internship or working in Canada for a short period of time, you do not need a work permit, as long as the following applies: the purpose is for training which lasts less than 4 months, and if required, you have written approval from the provincial board that regulates the health work you are doing. For the provinces of Ontario, B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan you do not need a letter. Go here for further information.
  • Judges, referees, and similar officials: If you are an official who will be judging at an international amateur competition, or you are an official at an artistic or cultural event like: a music and dance show, an animal show, or an agricultural contest, then you do not need a work permit.
  • Military personnel: If you are a member of the armed forces of a foreign country and you have movement orders that state that you are entering Canada under the terms of the Visiting Forces Act, then you do not need a work permit.
  • News reporters, film and media crews: The following people do not need work permits:
    • News reporters and members of their crews.
    • Film and media crews who do not plan to enter the Canadian labour market.
    • Journalists who work for a print, broadcast, or internet news service that is not Canadian-owned.
    • Resident correspondents for a foreign news service.
    • Managers and clerical staff for an event lasting less than 6 months.
  • Performing artists: If you are a performing artist or vital support staff, you do not need a work permit as long as the following conditions apply: you will perform for limited period of time, you are not hired for ongoing employment by the Canadian group contracting you, and you are not involved in making a movie, or a television or radio broadcast. Some examples of performing artists that do not need a work permit::
    • A foreign-based band or theatre group and key crew.
    • Street performers, like buskers.
    • Disc jockeys.
    • A member of a travelling circus.
    • Guest artists working within a Canadian group for a limited time.
    • WWE wrestlers and members of similar groups.
    • A wedding singer, or other performer at private events.
    • Air show performer.
    • A rodeo contestant.
    • Artists attending or working at a showcase.
    • Film producer who qualifies as a business visitor.
    • Small groups using film and recording studios for a limited time.
    • People doing guest spots in Canadian media.
  • Public speakers: If you are a guest speaker, a commercial speaker, or a seminar leader at an event not longer than 5 days, you do not need a work permit.
  • Students working off campus: If you are a full time international student, you may be eligible to work off campus and, if this is the case, you do not need a work permit. You will eligible to work up to 20 hours a week during academic sessions, and full-time during your educational institution’s scheduled breaks, like spring or summer holidays. To qualify, the following conditions must hold:
    • You have a valid study permit.
    • You are a full time student.
    • You are enrolled at a designated learning institution at the post-secondary level, or in Quebec at the vocational secondary level.
    • Your vocational, academic, or professional training program leads to a degree and lasts more than 6 months.
    • You will need to apply for a Social Insurance Number or SIN.
    • You may be asked to provide a confirmation to work off campus document issued by CIC. Go here for more information.
  • Students working on campus: If you are a full time international student, you may also be eligible to work on campus and, this being the case, you will not need a work permit. The following conditions, however, must apply:
    • You are a full time student at a public or private post-secondary institution.
    • You have a valid study permit.

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