You need to have a Canadian work permit to work on a temporary basis in Canada. You must have a job offer from a Canadian employer validated by ESDC: Employment and Social Development Canada (formerly HRSDC: Human Resources & Skills Development Canada). Some young people may qualify for a working holiday visa depending on their country of residence.
Working in Canada
Each year over 180,000 foreign workers get work permits to come to Canada as temporary workers. Temporary workers help Canadian companies fill jobs where there are skill shortages and some work as live-in caregivers.
If you want to work in Canada, you must:
- meet the requirements for entering Canada and staying in the country, and
- meet the requirements for obtaining a work permit.
A work permit allows you to stay in Canada for a predetermined, temporary amount of time. If you want to stay in Canada after your work permit has expired, you may be able to:
- apply to renew your work permit or
- apply for permanent resident status which will enable you to stay in Canada indefinitely.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) requires workers in many jobs to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) before you can apply for a work permit.
- A Labour Market Impact Assessment is proof that a Canadian citizen or permanent resident could not be found to fill the available position and the employer must hire a foreign worker.
- Some jobs do not require an LMIA to obtain a Work Permit.
If you are a highly skilled worker in the tech sector, check out the Global Talent Stream for faster processing times.
Job Match for Work Permits
As of August 28, 2017, those applying for Work Permits are now required to participate in the Job Match program because employers are now required to hire you through it. This is an additional step in the program but should make it easier and faster for employers to get LMIAs.
How can we help you work in Canada?
To discuss your options for getting a work permit in Canada, contact us for a consultation. We can determine your eligibility to apply as well as advise you how you can prove you meet the requirements. We will also go over the procedure for obtaining a Labour Market Opinion as the first step toward getting your work permit.
Immigroup will assist you throughout the entire application process from start to finish, including:
- Determining your eligibility to apply;
- Determining the likelihood of success for your application;
- Ensuring your forms are complete and accurately reflect the details of your case for maximum chance of success;
- Ensuring you have the necessary and appropriate documents to support your application;
- Providing guidance on the best method to submit your application to the government for your circumstances;
- Advising the privileges a work permit gives you;
- Offering Top Priority service for extremely urgent cases;
- Determining the best way to proceed once the outcome of your case is reached (applying for permanent residence, renewing the work permit, re-application if necessary, etc.)
Contact us for a consultation to assist you with your LMIA and work permit application.
Processing Time - Work Permit
If your application is submitted from outside Canada, the processing time for your work permit application depends on the location of the office where you submit the application.
Processing times can range between 1 - 9 months on average. Most visa offices process the applications in under 3 months’ time. However, due to COVID-19 immigration authorities in Canada can no longer estimate processing times for work permits with any reasonable degree of accuracy. When we have more information regarding processing times, we will post it in a table below. Until then, assume at least 10 weeks or more for processing work permits.
Application times below are based on processing time for complete application, are averages, are subject to change without notice, and are not guaranteed. Applications may take longer than the timeframes stated by CIC at the officer’s discretion. Statistics are updated on our website every 30 days.
If your application was submitted within Canada, the average processing time is 1 – 3 months in normal times. As mentioned above, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed processing times and made it hard to predict how long it will take to process your work permit.
Processing Time - Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
The current LMIA processing times are given in the table below from Service Canada’s website. They are as of May 2020. As always, these processing times are subject to change without notice and are not guaranteed.
|Application type||Average processing time|
|Global Talent Stream||14 business days|
|Agricultural Stream||14 business days|
|Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program||5 business days|
|Permanent residence stream||29 business days|
|In-home caregivers||10 business days|
|High-wage stream||35 business days|
|Low-wage stream||34 business days|
Our fees are on a case-by-case basis, but Immigroup legal fees for an LMIA application usually range around $3000. After the LMIA is approved, the average legal fee for a work permit application is between $900 and $1300. If you are applying for a work permit for a position that does not require an LMIA, our legal fees average between $1300 and $1800.
Top Priority service for clients who need an LMO or work permit urgently carries additional costs.
If you do not know where you stand, whether you are eligible to work in Canada, or what to do next in the process, contact us for assistance.
In addition to the legal fees paid to a consultant or lawyer to assist you with this process, the applicant must also pay a fee to the Canadian government for filing their application. Please refer to the fee schedule below.
|Work Permit (including extensions) per person||$155|
|Work Permit (including extensions) per group (3 or more performing artists). This is the maximum fee for a group of artists applying at the same time and at the same location||$465|
|Open work permit holder – per person||$100|
|Restoration of status – per person||$200|
|New work permit (needed with restoration of status)||$155|
|Total fees for restoration of status ($200 + $155)||$355|
Labour Market Impact Assessment Fees
- There is no LMIA processing fee for you as a worker applying for a work permit.
- However, your employer may have to pay a $1,000 LMIA processing fee.
- As of January 2018, families who employ Caregivers for children or Caregivers for special needs adults may have their LMIA processing fees waived.
- If your job in Canada is LMIA-exempt your employer will have to instead pay an employer compliance fee.
- Government application fees are subject to change at any time without notice and are not refundable from IRCC even if the application is refused.
As of April 30, 2015, restrictions on work permits for jobs considered "low wage" have been put in place. In the following table:
- If the job’s wage is at or above the provincial or territorial median wages listed below, then the job is considered high-wage.
- If the job’s wage is below the provincial or territorial median wage, then it is considered low-wage.
|Province or Territory||Median wage 2020 (based on 2019 wages)|
|Newfoundland & Labrador||$23.00|
|Prince Edward Island||$20.00|
For more information on what is considered high wage and low wage, see the full list of the requirements here.
Who needs a work permit?
Anyone who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and who wishes to work in Canada must have permission to do so. This permission usually takes the form of a work permit. However, citizens of certain countries may be eligible to work in Canada on a temporary resident visa (TRV) or through NAFTA.
What are the basic requirements for a Canadian work permit?
There are requirements for both the employer and the employee when applying for a work permit.
Employers must prove:
- Their job offer is genuine;
- They obey both federal and provincial laws;
- If an employer has hired other employees on work permits in the past 2 years, they must show that they have abided by the terms of those employees contracts. This means they must show that they have paid the employee in accordance with the terms of their contract.
Employees must prove:
- You will leave Canada at the expiration of your work permit and will not stay in Canada illegally;
- You have enough money to support yourself and your family while your are in Canada;
- You are law abiding and do not have a criminal record;
- You are in good health;
- You will not be employed by an ineligible employer;
- You have not worked in Canada on a work permit for longer than 4 years.
Additional documents may be requested by CIC at the officer’s discretion. When you speak with Immigroup regarding a work permit in Canada, we will advise you which of these requirements you should give consideration given your background and circumstances. We will also tell you of any additional requirements that apply to your situation.
How do I get a job offer from a Canadian employer?
You will need to look for Canadian jobs online. If you have connections in Canada, you should ask them to see if they know anyone who is hiring.
How do I get a Labour Market Opinion (LMO)?
Employers must complete the appropriate Labour Market Opinion application form once they are in a position to know they must hire a foreign worker. Applications that are not complete or are filled out incorrectly can cause delays. The employer must include the National Occupation Classification code. There are no government fees for obtaining an LMO. The processing time for a Labour Market Opinion is dependent on the type of employment and the province of employment. LMO processing times can vary from a few weeks up to six months.
What about my family members?
Family members who wish to accompany you to Canada while you are on a work permit may need to apply for a visitor visa.
Family members who need visas while in Canada to work must apply for their own work permits and children who will attend school must also have study permits.
For the purpose of a work permit or visitor visa, ‘family member’ means your spouse or common-law partner, your dependent children, and their dependent children (your grandchildren).
- ‘Spouse’ means your legally married spouse.
- ‘Common-law Partner’ means your conjugal partner with whom you have lived for at least one year.
- ‘Dependent Children’ means your children or your spouse or common-law partner’s who are
- 22 years old or younger and single, or
- Financially dependent on the parent since before 22 years old and still in school, or
- Financially dependent since before 22 years old due to a medical condition.
Any of the family members who wish to visit Canada must file separate applications for a Visitor Visa (each family member will receive their own visa).
How long is a work permit valid?
Work permits are generally valid for a period of 1 – 2 years; however the specific length of validity granted is at the discretion of the CIC officer and is also influenced by the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) issued by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
Work permits are not generally issued for less than one year unless the type of work being done is seasonal or temporary.
How long is a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) valid?
The length of validity of an LMO is completely at the discretion of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. They are usually valid for a period of at least one year, but they are also influenced by the length of time the employer has issued the job offer for in the employee’s contract.
Can I renew my work permit?
If your work permit is expiring, you may apply to renew it from inside of Canada. However, there are restrictions on renewing your work permit if you are in any job that is classified other than NOC 0 – A.
If you are working in Canada temporarily in a NOC 0 – A occupation, you can apply to renew your work permit without restriction, provided your LMO is still valid (if applicable).
If you are working in Canada on a work permit in an occupation of any other skill level, you can only apply to renew so that your time in Canada on a work permit does not exceed 4 years. Once you have worked 4 years on a work permit, you must leave Canada for at least 1 year before returning.
Please note that to renew your work permit you must have a valid LMO (if applicable). If you do not have a valid LMO and you work in an occupation that requires an LMO, you must get a new, valid LMO before applying to renew your work permit.
What happens if I overstayed on my work permit?
If you have stayed in Canada longer than the amount of time your work permit was valid, or that a border officer advised that you may stay in Canada, this is an issue that could cause problems for you in the future.
You could be denied entry to Canada if you try to come again in the future, or even denied entry to other countries, such as the United States.
But, there is a solution. If you’ve overstayed your work permit, it may be possible to restore your status renew your work permit, minimizing any problems you may have in the future. Contact us for a consultation to determine the best way to help you move forward.
How do I prove I have been law-abiding?
You must submit police certificates (clearances) from all countries where you have lived in for more than six-months since turning 18. If you are married or have children, you must also have your spouse and children submit police certificates (if applicable); even if they are not coming to Canada. If you fail to do this, your application may be rejected (if applicable) or you make experience problems entering Canada or applying for permanent residence down the road.
How do I prove I am in good health?
You need to have a medical exam performed by a physician authorized by the Canadian government (a Designated Medical Practioner). If you are married or have children you must also have your spouses and children submit medical exams, even if they are not coming to Canada. If you fail to do this, you may experience problems later if you wish to apply for permanent residence and you want to include your family in the application.
If you applied outside of Canada find your local visa office in the table below to the see the approximate processing time for your work permit application:
|Region||Location||Average Processing Time in Weeks|
|Africa and the Middle East||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates||30|
|Pretoria, South Africa||18|
|Riyadh, Saudi Arabia||10|
|Tel Aviv, Israel||9|
|Colombo, Sri Lanka||8|
|Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam||34|
|Hong Kong, China||7|
|New Delhi, India||7|
|Seoul, South Korea||6|
|London, United Kingdom||15|
|Prague, Czech Republic||7|
|Buenos Aires, Argentina||5|
|Detroit, United States||3|
|Guatemala City, Guatemala||2|
|Los Angeles, United States||3|
|Mexico City, Mexico||3|
|New York City, United States||3|
|Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago||1|
|Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic||5|
|Sao Paulo, Brazil||8|
|Seattle, United States||3|