Working In Canada

Foreign nationals may work temporarily in Canada. Most of them will need to apply for and receive a work permit which authorizes them to work.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a work permit?
A work permit is a written authorization that allows a person who is neither a citizen nor a permanent resident to work in Canada. It is usually valid for a specific employer, job and length of time. Some work permits can only be issued based on a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from Service Canada. Others can be issued without the need for an LMO.
Do I require a work permit?
With a few exceptions, any person who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident and who wishes to work in Canada requires a work permit.
What sorts of activities are regarded as work?
Work is any activity for which wages are paid or a commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.
What if I do not wish to be paid? Will I still require a work permit?
You do not have to be paid for an activity for it to be regarded as work. Once you are doing an activity that a Canadian or permanent resident could have an opportunity to do, that could be considered “work”. For example, unpaid employment undertaken for the purpose of obtaining work experience is regarded as work. However, unpaid help by a family member during a visit, such as a mother assisting a daughter with childcare, does not constitute work.
In what circumstances can I work without a work permit?
Some foreign nationals can work in Canada temporarily without a work permit. These include business visitors, employees of short term temporary residents, full-time students at select universities engaged in on-campus employment, clergy whose employment will consist mainly of preaching, teaching of doctrine, or providing spiritual counselling and many more. The comprehensive list of work permit free employment can be found at
Where should I apply for a work permit?
The general rule is that you must apply outside Canada. However, there are a few circumstances where you can apply within Canada or at your port of entry to Canada.
What factors affect the approval of a work permit application?
Factors that will affect the approval of your application will include whether the employment is genuine and your employer’s ‘previous history of compliance with Canadian laws. From your perspective, you must provide proof that you meet the requirements of the job. You must also satisfy the visa officer that you have enough money during your stay in Canada to take care of yourself and your family members and that you will leave Canada at the end of your employment. You must meet general admissibility conditions by showing that you have no adverse history of criminality, that you will not be a danger to the security of Canada, and that you are in good health. You should be prepared to provide any additional documents requested by the officer to establish your admissibility.
How long can I work in Canada as a temporary foreign worker?
You can generally work in Canada for a maximum period of four years. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
Will there be any conditions imposed on my work permit?
A work permit will typically include some conditions such as the type of employment, the name of the employer and the location and duration of the work. However an open work permit will not include all of these.
What is a Labour Market Opinion?
A Labour Market Opinion is the opinion provided by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) which determines the likely impact of the employment of the foreign worker on the labour market in Canada.
Why and when is a Labour Market Opinion required?
The general principle is that authorizing a foreign national to work in Canada has an impact on the Canadian labour market and economy. In seeking to protect the Canadian economy and workers, the Immigration & Refugee Act and Regulations provides that some work permits can only be issued on the basis of a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO).
Under what circumstances can a work permit be exempt from a requirement for a Labour Market Opinion?
The exemptions from the requirement of a positive labour market opinion are very specific and clearly defined. These include situations where the admission of a foreign worker will benefit the Canadian economy and where it serves to meet other objectives aimed at foreign policy, culture, trade and commerce. It is not possible to provide an exhaustive list here.


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