Canadian Immigration Questions and Answers with Attorney David Cohen

CIC News
Published: June 2, 2016

Every month, Attorney David Cohen will answer a few general Canadian immigration questions submitted by our readers. These questions cover immigration programs, eligibility, processing, language requirements, investing in Canada, landing, admissibility, studying in Canada, working in Canada, and much more.

Here are this month's questions and answers.

1. I live in Spain and I have a tax identification number (NIE) but I am from Kazakhstan. My passport is Kazakh. Can I apply for an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in order to visit Canada?

The new eTA pre-screening system, which aims to provide stress-free travel for visa-exempt individuals by requiring them to complete an online form before departure, is for visa-exempt travelers only. Whether or not an individual requires a visitor visa (Temporary Resident Visa) is based principally on his or her nationality, rather than country of residence (a notable exception is U.S. Green Card holders).

A Kazakh living in Spain who is not a Spanish citizen is not able to apply for an eTA, and should begin the process of applying for a TRV if a visit to Canada is planned. I encourage you to use the new Visiting Canada Tool to learn the next steps.

2. My partner is currently working in Alberta as a temporary foreign worker on a two-year work permit. Is there a possibility that I can join him there during his work permit, and also work? What type of visa should he/I apply for?

Under Canadian immigration regulations, the spouse or common-law partner of a foreign worker may be eligible to obtain an open work permit. The holder of an open work permit can work for any Canadian employer without first having a confirmed offer of employment. An open work permit is not job-specific.

In general, to be eligible for an open work permit, the spouse or common-law partner of a foreign worker must demonstrate that:

  • the principal temporary foreign worker has employment in Canada that is at a management level, or a job in a professional occupation, or as a technical or skilled tradesperson. In other words, the skill level of the principal temporary foreign worker’s job must be level 0, A or B, according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC). This skill level requirement does not apply to principal temporary foreign workers who have been nominated for permanent residence by a province (provincial nominees); and
  • the principal temporary foreign worker is permitted to work in Canada for a period of at least six months.

In general, the spouse or common-law partner’s open work permit is valid for the same duration as the foreign worker’s work permit. To learn more about open work permits, click here.

3. When reading about Canadian immigration matters, I frequently see the abbreviation “NOC”. What does this mean, and what relevance does it have?  

“NOC” stands for National Occupational Classification. The NOC system groups occupations in the Canadian economy by skill type and level based on the tasks, duties, and responsibilities of the occupation. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, formerly CIC) uses the NOC coding system to evaluate the employment history of prospective immigrants. This system allows IRCC to decide whether or not work experience qualifies as skilled work (NOC level 0, A or B).

The NOC list may also be used for the issuance of temporary work permits. For example, requests for a Labour Market Impact Assessment for certain occupations may be processed within a 10-day period.

To learn more about the NOC system and skilled occupations, click here.

If you would like your general immigration question to be featured in our newsletter, please email your question to

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