Work Permit

New measures have been introduced for foreign workers in Canada and Canadian employers who are hiring them.

There are two kinds of foreign workers in Canada – those who need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), and those who are LMIA-exempt.

An LMIA shows whether Canadians are available, or if there is a need for a foreign worker. There are however, situations where foreign workers do not need an LMIA. This may be the result of free-trade agreements such as NAFTA or youth exchanges programs, for example, where there are reciprocal agreements that benefit Canada.

As a result of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program review, a number of changes have been introduced for foreign workers in Canada and the Canadian employers who are hiring them.

Among the changes, LMIA-exempt foreign workers will now be part of the newly named International Mobility Program. This will distinguish them from foreign workers who need a LMIA to enter Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Here’s an overview of other changes coming, that will ensure both programs continue to benefit Canadians:

For more information about the changes, please see our news release and backgrounders.

If you need a work permit to work temporarily in Canada, you must make sure you are eligible for one. Whether you are eligible or not depends on a few things, including where you plan to apply for your work permit.

Apply from outside Canada

Anyone may apply for a work permit before they enter Canada. In some cases, you must apply to a visa office outside Canada. This is usually true if you need a visa to enter Canada or if you need to have a medical exam before you come here.

Apply from inside Canada

You can only apply for a work permit from inside Canada if you:

  • are currently in Canada and have a valid study or work permit, or your spouse or parents have a study or work permit,
  • have graduated from a program at a
    • Canadian university,
    • community college,
    • CÉGEP,
    • publicly funded trade/technical school or
    • other eligible school,
  • have a temporary resident permit that is valid for six months or more, or
  • are in Canada because you have already applied for permanent residence from inside Canada (you will have to pass certain stages in the main application process to be eligible for a work permit).
Apply as you enter Canada

You can ask to be allowed to work in Canada as you enter Canada but only if:

  • you do not need a visa,
  • you already hold a valid medical certificate, if you need it for your job, and
  • your employer does not need a labour market opinion (LMO) for your job (with some exceptions) or you already have an LMO.

Note: If your job does need an LMO, you can apply for a work permit as you enter Canada, as long as your employer has approval to hire you through an LMO before you enter the country. (This does not apply to live-in caregivers and seasonal agricultural workers.)

No matter where you apply, you must:

  • prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your work permit expires,
  • show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada and to return home,
  • obey the law and have no record of criminal activity (we may ask you to give us a police clearance certificate),
  • not be a danger to Canada’s security,
  • be in good health and have a medical exam, if needed,
  • not plan to work for an employer on the list of ineligible employers,
  • not have worked in Canada for one or more periods that total four years after April 1, 2011 (with some exceptions), and
  • give the officer any other documents they ask for to prove you can enter the country.

Applying for a new visitor visa (to re-enter Canada)

If you are currently in Canada with a valid study or work permit, and you want to leave and then come back to Canada, you may need a visa to re-enter Canada as a visitor.
If you do, you must apply for a new temporary resident (visitor) visa before you leave. To do so, you must: