Canada welcomes foreign nationals to join the Canadian labour market. In order to legally work in Canada, the foreign worker must obtain a work permit, a special document that authorizes individuals to be employed in the country.

Types of Canadian Work Permits

All Canadian work permits can be employer-specific, occupation-specific, and open work permits.

Employer-Specific Work Permits

These documents allow foreign workers to work only for the employer listed on their work permit. To change a job, the worker will have to find a new employer, who must first obtain an LMIA to hire this worker or to be LMIA-exempt.

Open Work Permits

These documents allow foreign nationals to accept employment with any Canadian employer, which is always LMIA-exempt. The OWP holders can combine employment with several employers and work in any field and location.

Occupation-Specific Work Permits

Foreign workers who hold occupation-specific work permits are only allowed to work in their own profession or designated jobs. Usually, these work permits are issued to caregivers – home child care providers and home support workers as part of their application for permanent residence. These permits are also considered open.

Foreign Worker Programs

There are two umbrella programs that regulate the employment of foreign workers in Canada. These are the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and International Mobility Program (IMP). In addition, foreign nationals who filed a claim for asylum can apply for a work permit if they cannot support themselves without working, while they wait for the decision on their application.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is a Government of Canada program that allows employers to hire foreign nationals temporarily if they cannot find qualified Canadians or permanent residents to fill the job vacancies. This program is run by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

To hire a foreign worker under the TFWP, Canadian employers must apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from ESDC. The assessment confirms that there is no Canadian worker available to fill the position offered by an employer and that employer meets all conditions of the TFWP.

All work permits issued under the TFWP are employer-specific. This means foreign workers are allowed to work only for the employer listed on their work permit. To change a job, the worker will have to find a new employer, who must first obtain an LMIA to hire this worker.

International Mobility Program

The International Mobility Program is a program that allows qualified foreign workers to come to Canada and work without LMIA. The International Mobility Program includes many subprograms such as the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program, Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program, Mobilité Francophone initiative for French-speaking foreign workers, Free trade agreements with specific countries or groups of countries (the United States and Mexico, the United Kingdom, European Union, etc.) and others.

Work permits issued under the International Mobility Program can be both employer-specific or open work permits.

Mobilité Francophone Work Permit

Mobilité Francophone is a program that allows French-speaking foreign nationals to get employment in any province or territory of Canada except Quebec with no LMIA required. This work permit does not allow the holder to change jobs and is employer-specific. The language of employment does not have to be French, however, the foreign worker must prove that their level of French is at least CLB 7.

A Mobilité Francophone work permit may be obtained for the term of the employment offer or until the expiry of either the travel document or biometrics, whichever comes first.

Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program allows international students who have Canadian educational credentials to get an open work permit, allowing them to take any job for the period of the study or up to three years after graduation, whichever comes first. This program is meant for foreign students who graduated with a diploma, degree or certificate from an approved Canadian post-secondary institution.

International Experience Canada (IEC)

The International Experience Canada (IEC) Program includes three streams: Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op. This program allows foreign nationals aged 18 to 35 to come to Canada for travel and employment.

IEC Working Holiday

A work permit under the Working Holiday category does not require a Job Offer from a Canadian employer. This category of the IEC allows young foreigners to work for more than one employer and in more than one location. The type of work permit under the Working Holiday is an open work permit.

IEC Young Professionals

The IEC Young Professionals allows young professionals from certain countries to gain full-time employment in Canada if their job contributes to their professional development and is in a skilled occupation. This work permit requires a job offer and is employer-specific.

IEC International Co-op (Internship)

The International Co-op Work Permit is also an employer-specific work permit that allows foreign students in the process of obtaining a post-secondary degree to work in Canada if they get a job offer for a work or internship from a Canadian employer. This work permit is also employer-specific. The condition of this stream is that your job must be directly related to your area of study and successful completion of the Co-op is mandatory to complete your academic program.

Work Permits for Entrepreneurs

As a part of the International Mobility Program, foreign entrepreneurs may receive work permits as Traders, Investors, Potential Provincial Nominee Entrepreneurs, key members of the Start-Up Visa Program PR applicants, business visitors under Free Trade Agreements, and Intra-company transferees.

Work Permits for Immigration Applicants

In some immigration programs, foreign nationals have the ability to apply for work permits along with their permanent residence application. For example, Express Entry applicants, as well as applicants under the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP), Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), or foreign workers nominated by a province or territory can apply for Bridging Open Work Permits (BOWP) while they wait for a decision on their PR application.

Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds

Refugee claimants who are waiting for the hearing of their claim in Canada may be issued employment authorizations under Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) Grounds to work for any employer. It is important to realize that the issuance of an H&C work permit does not change the status of your refugee claim; it only allows you to work while you are waiting for the decision about your refugee claim.

This work permit is open and allows you to work for any employer until your refugee claim is either accepted or rejected.

Schindler Visa Services specialized in work permit applications of all types. We will help you and your employer to get all the necessary documents smoothly and quickly!

Book a consultation about how to get a Work Permit with Oleg Schindler, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant!

How to book a consultation
1. Select the duration of your consultation
2. Indicate if you are in Canada
3. Click on the ‘Submit’ button
4. On the next screen, use the calendar.
5. Choose a convenient day
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7. Click on the ‘Confirm’ button
8. Enter your first name, last name and email address
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11. Enter your credit card billing information
12. Click on the ‘Schedule Event’ button

After booking the consultation, you will receive an email with the booking details and a link to Zoom if you have selected this option.