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Frequently Asked Questions | Applying for a Work Permit to Canada


Frequently Asked Questions | Applying for a Work Permit to Canada

Jade Calver

Today, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about applying for a work permit to Canada.

Can I apply for a work permit from inside Canada?

In some cases, you may be eligible to apply for a work permit from inside Canada. In order to be considered eligible, you must: 

  • Have a valid study or work permit (or have a spouse or parent with a valid study or work permit);

  • Have a work permit for one job, but want to apply for a work permit for a different job;

  • Have a Temporary Resident Permit that is valid for 6 months or more, OR you are in Canada because you have already applied for PR from inside Canada.

If you are in Canada as a visitor on a visitor visa, you are not considered eligible to apply for a work permit. You must apply for a work permit at a Canadian visa office that is either responsible for the country where you live, responsible for the country you are a citizen of, or at Canadian embassy or consulate in the United States of America. If you choose to apply this way, you could be asked to attend an interview at the visa office. If this happens, be sure to prepare all required documents in advanced.

Can I apply for a work permit when I enter Canada?

Some individuals may be eligible to apply for a work permit at a Canadian border upon entering the country. Why might an applicant wish to do this? Some people believe that they will save time by applying at the border as opposed to submitting a paper or digital application prior to their arrival in Canada. It is important to note that you may check work permit processing time using the pricing time calculator on the Government of Canada’s website. This estimation can help guide your choice about deciding whether or not to apply in advance and heed the processing time, or take a chance by applying at the border.   

Should you choose to apply for a work permit at a Canadian border (either a land or airport entry), you must be well prepared and have reviewed the document and application requirements in advance. You must include the following items with your application:

  • Your job offer and a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) number, OR

  • The offer of employment number (if applicable)

  • Proof that you meet the qualifications and experience for the job you will do in Canada;

  • Proof that you do not need an LMIA for the job you will do, if applicable;

  • A valid medical certificate if you need it for your job or if you are from a designated country; and

  • A valid passport or other travel document

Who can apply for an open work permit?

An open work permit is a work permit that is not job specific. Open work permit holders can work in Canada for a certain period of time for various employers. You may be eligible for an open work permit if you are:

  • An international student who graduated from a designated learning institution and are eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

  • A student who’s no longer able to meet the costs of your studies (destitute student)

  • Applied for permanent residence in Canada

  • A dependent family member of someone who applied for permanent residence

  • The spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or international student

  • The spouse or common-law partner of an applicant of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program

  • A refugee, refugee claimant, protected person or their family member

  • Under an unenforceable removal order

  • A temporary resident permit holder

  • A young worker participating in special programs

Can I appeal a decision on a work permit application?

If your work permit application is returned or denied, you may choose to reapply. According to the Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, there is no formal right of appeal on temporary resident decisions. If, however, you believe your application was unjustly or unfairly denied, you can ask for a judicial review through the Federal Court of Canada.

How do I change employers?

In order to change employers on an employer-specific work permit, you must apply to change the conditions of your work permit. The conditions linked to your work permit include the type of employment in which you may work, the employer for whom you may work, where you may work, how long you may continue to work, and the times or period of work. 

In order to change conditions on your work permit (e.g. length, employer, occupation), you must apply for a new work permit. You should allow for at least 30 days prior to your status expiring and be sure to apply before making the change.

Who needs a Labour Market Impact Assessment?

Some employers and some types of temporary workers need a Labour Market Impact Assessment before the worker applies for a work permit. You may need a LMIA depending on what kind of work permit you apply for and what type of work you will perform. The LMIA proves that a Canadian employer has done their due diligence in searching for a Canadian worker before hiring a foreign national to do the job. To determine if your position is LMIA exempt, you can answer a few brief questions here.

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