Top 10 questions about Canada’s work permit process

Julia Hornstein
Published: September 19, 2023

A work permit allows a foreign national to work in Canada temporarily. Navigating Canada’s work permit options and process can be difficult. Here are answers to some of the questions asked most often about Canada’s work permit process.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

1. How much is the processing fee for a work permit in Canada?

The cost for work permits in Canada is the same regardless of the industry in which you work or the stream under which you apply.

The processing fee for a work permit is $155 CAD per person and $100 CAD per person for an open work permit.

2. What documents do I need for a work permit in Canada?

In order to apply for a work permit, the applicant must submit the following documents and forms:

  • A valid travel document or passport
  • Submission of biometric fingerprints and photo
  • Evidence that you meet the requirements for your prospective job
  • Certificat d’Acceptation du Quebec, if applicable
  • Proof of relationships with all spouses, children or common-law partners
  • Completed Application For Work Permit Made Outside of Canada (IMM 1295) form, if applying from outside of Canada
  • Completed Document Checklist (IMM 5488)
  • Completed Family Information (IMM 5645) form
  • Completed Schedule 1 – Application for Temporary Resident Visa form. This form must be completed by: the principal applicant, his/her spouse or common-law partner and all dependant children older than 18. This form must only be completed by foreign nationals who require a temporary resident visa to enter Canada.

You may also need to submit required documentation from your employer.

3. Can I apply for a Canadian work permit without a job offer?

Most candidates will require a job offer by a Canadian employer, usually supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The purpose of an LMIA is to make sure that the hiring of a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour force.

However, there are some exceptions to this requirement, where foreign workers can apply for a work permit without an LMIA, or a job offer.

For example, a recent graduate from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI) may be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which does not require a job offer. Similarly, the spouse of someone already on a Canadian work or study permit may be eligible for a work permit without a job offer.

4. Who is eligible for an open work permit in Canada?

You may be eligible for an open work permit if you:

  • Are an international student who graduated from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) and are eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP)
  • Are a student who’s no longer able to meet the costs of your studies (destitute student)
  • Applied for permanent residence in Canada
  • Are a dependent family member of someone who applied for permanent residence
  • Are the spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or international student
  • Are the spouse or common-law partner of an applicant of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program
  • Are a refugee, refugee claimant, protected person or their family member
  • Are under an unenforceable removal order
  • Are a temporary resident permit holder
  • Are a young worker participating in special programs

5. Can I bring my family to Canada on my work permit?

If you are applying for a work permit and have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer, you may be eligible to have your spouse and dependent children accompany you to Canada.

Your spouse or partner may also be eligible to apply for an open work permit, allowing him or her to work for almost any employer in Canada. Dependent children of temporary foreign workers may also be eligible for a work permit provided they meet certain criteria.

6. What are the types of work permits in Canada?

The Canadian government has two categories of work permits: LMIA supported (or closed) work permits, and LMIA-exempt (or open) work permits. As previously explained, the LMIA demonstrates that the issuance of a work permit to a foreign national will not have a negative impact on the employment and wages of Canadian workers.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is the work permit program that requires an LMIA, while the International Mobility Program (IMP) does not require an LMIA.

For example, under the IMP, there are LMIA-exempt work permits that result from free trade agreements, such as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). This agreement allows foreign workers to apply for a work permit without their employer having to obtain an LMIA.

7. What is the fastest work permit in Canada?

The Global Talent Stream provides work permits that bring foreign nationals to Canada on temporary work permits to fill specific labour market needs. The Global Talent Stream is a stream within the TFWP.

The Global Talent Stream allows certain skilled workers to obtain a work permit within two weeks of applying, as the applications are typically processed within 10 business days.

There are two categories under the Global Talent Stream, Category A and Category B. Category A is for high growth companies that can demonstrate a need to recruit unique specialized talent from abroad. Category B is for employers looking to hire certain highly skilled foreign workers for occupations on the Global Talent Occupations List, which have been determined to be in-demand and for which there is insufficient labour supply in Canada.

8. How many months does it take to process Canadian work permits?

Canadian work permit processing types are typically processed within one to nine months. The processing time starts the day that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) receives your completed application and ends when they make a decision.

Processing times will vary based on:

  • The type of application submitted
  • If the application is complete
  • How easily IRCC can verify your information
  • How long you take to respond to any requests or concerns

9. Can I change my status from visitor to worker in Canada?

A visitor may apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) and then subsequently apply for a work permit, which would change their status from visitor to worker.

You can do this by applying for a work permit within Canada. Once you have a job offer, you must make sure you meet the eligibility criteria for a work permit. If you are eligible, you can submit an application for a work permit.

10. Can I get permanent residence while being in Canada on a work permit?

Work permit holders in Canada can apply for Canadian permanent residence (PR). There are a few immigration programs that are tailored for temporary foreign workers.

One of the best ways to obtain PR in Canada is through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Through the CEC pathway, your Canadian work experience will play a big role in being granted PR.

To apply for PR under the CEC, foreign nationals must meet the following requirements:

  • Have at least 12 months of full-time skilled work experience in Canada gained in the three years prior to applying.
  • Meet or exceed the required level of language skills according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level of your work experience.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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