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Work Permit

Work permit

A work permit is required for any foreign national who wishes to work in Canada. If you’ve been offered a job and are applying for a work permit, there are several types of permits available to you depending on your situation. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of each type of permit—the employer-specific open work permits and LMIA exemptions—and how they differ from one another.


Employer-specific work permits

Employer-specific work permits are issued to individuals who are coming to Canada to work for a specific employer. Employers who hire foreign workers must apply for the appropriate labour market opinions and sometimes also a positive assessment from ESDC.

The employer will then apply for an LMO-required work permit, which is valid only for the position offered by that particular Canadian company. A valid job offer from a Canadian employer is required before you can apply for your employee-specific work permit.

Open work permits

Open work permits are also issued to people who have a job offer from a Canadian employer and their work permit application was approved by IRCC. Open work permits are usually valid for up to three years.

You can get an open work permit if you:

  • have applied for permanent residence through the Express Entry system and your application is still in process; or

  • are eligible under the Federal Skilled Worker Class or Federal Skilled Trades Class of immigrants, but haven’t applied yet; or

  • meet one of these requirements:

  • You have worked full-time (more than 30 hours per week) at a job that makes use of your skills in Canada for at least 1 year out of the last 1½ years, even if it’s not paid employment (for example, volunteering). Your employment must be required by federal law or provincial law; OR

  • You study full time at an accredited college, university or other educational institution (a requirement that may be waived); OR

  • You are accompanying someone who has been approved as either a permanent resident or temporary resident under one of these categories:

Labour market impact assessments (LMIA)

A labour market impact assessment (LMIA) is a document issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that confirms whether or not your employer can hire a foreign worker to work in Canada.

  • Process: An LMIA is needed for most employers who want to hire a foreign worker. The employer must first apply for an ITA (Labour Market Impact Assessment). When ESDC issues an ITA, it will then issue an LMIA if all conditions are met. When both documents have been issued by ESDC, the employer can provide them to you so you can apply for a work permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

To get an ITA or LMIA, employers need to show that they are unable to find Canadians or permanent residents who are able and available for the job offered by the company. This means there must be no Canadian workers interested in taking on these jobs within six months of being advertised nationally through Job Bank or other ways described below under “How do Employers Apply?”

LMIA exemptions and work permit exceptions

There are some exceptions to the LMIA process that may allow your application to be approved without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). These include:

  • Temporary Foreign Workers entering Canada who have received a positive decision on their work permit application.

  • Foreign nationals with valid work permits who have been working in Canada for at least six months in the same occupation and under the same employer, but who do not currently hold a valid work permit.

  • Foreign nationals holding certain types of permits, such as an intra-company transfer or multi-year labour market impact assessment (LMIAs) issued through international agreements or trade deals between governments where there is reciprocity and parity with Canadian workers’ rights when working abroad – these individuals do not need LMIAs as their status in Canada is called “exempt” because it does not fall under normal labor market regulations.

Labour Market Impact Assessment process, fees and timeframes

  • Fees for a Labour Market Impact Assessment application

The fee for an LMIA application is $275 CAD. The fee can be paid by credit card, cheque or money order. If you’re paying by cheque, it must be made out to “Service Canada”.

  • Timeframes for the Labour Market Impact Assessment process

Most applications are processed in five to eight weeks from the date of receipt of all required documents. If your employer is filing an offer of employment on your behalf with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), depending on the position being offered and how many positions are available, it can take as little as one week or up to three months for CIC to process their offer of employment.

If you apply for an LMIA exemption or a work permit exemption: An exemption will only be granted if there’s no Canadian citizen or permanent resident available who could fill the job (or if they’re not qualified). Otherwise, you’ll need proof that hiring someone from outside Canada would have no negative impact on Canadians looking for jobs; this includes showing that there isn’t another Canadian citizen or permanent resident already employed at your company who could fill this position instead (if applicable).

The best way to find out if you’re eligible for an open work permit or an employer-specific one is by getting in touch with our team at EDFO Immigration Consulting Services

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