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Work permit

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Work Permit

Immigration Canada allows thousands of foreign nationals to work in Canada to fill Canada’s labour shortage. As per Statistics Canada, “Close to 470,000 foreign nationals have a work permit that became effective in 2019”. A work permit is an authorization provided by IRCC (Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada) that gives a permission to a foreign national to legally work in Canada. A work permit can be open without any restriction or a permit may have some restrictions regarding employer, job duties and place.

Work Permit Exemptions

Several occupations do not require foreign nationals to have a work permit to legally work in Canada. But foreign nationals must have legal temporary status to stay in Canada. These occupations are as follows:

Business Visitors

Athletes and Coaches 

Expert witnesses or investigators

Foreign Representatives

News Reporters

Health Care Students

Family members of foreign representatives

Public speakers

Civil aviation inspector

Military personnel

Convention organizers

Aviation accident or incident inspector

Foreign government officers



On- Campus employment

Judges and referees

Emergency service providers

Performing artists

Examiners and evaluators

Implied status

Types of Work Permit

Temporary Work Permit (Employer Specific): A foreign national generally requires a valid offer of employment from a Canadian employer to be eligible for a work permit. This offer, also known as LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment), must be authorized by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) if the occupation is not LMIA exempt. Once a foreign national receives a positive LMIA, a work permit application can be submitted to IRCC where applicant’s eligibility and admissibility has been assessed by visa officer.

A work permit issued under this category are usually restricted. These restrictions may include – Employer name, work location, Job title and duration of work.

Post-Graduation Work Permit: International students who graduates from a DLI (Designated Learning Institution) and the program length is equal or more than 8 months, are eligible to have a post-graduation work permit. Immigration Canada usually issues work permit for the same length as a study program if it is less than 2 years. IRCC may issue a work permit for 3 years if a program is more than 2 years. However, international students will not be eligible for more than 3 years post-graduation work permit even they have completed a program more than 3 years in length.

This work permit is considered as open work permit because it does not have any restrictions. Work permit holders can choose any job with any employer at any place. This work permit must be applied by applicants within 180 days after receiving final marks from a school. Work permit applications are taking about 173 days to be processed in these days. Applicants may work during the processing time as long as they applied for a work permit before their study permit expires. Applicants are considered on implied status in this time.

Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP): Foreign nationals may be eligible for a BOWP if they are waiting for the results of their permanent residence, and the application has been approved in principle. Their permanent residence application must be in one of the following programs:

  • Permanent Residence using Express Entry
  • Provincial Nominee Program
  • Home Child-Care Provider Pilot or Home Support Worker Pilot
  • Caring for Children Class or Caring for people with high medical needs class
  • Agri-Food Pilot

Open Work Permit for Spouse: A foreign national may be eligible for an open work permit if their spouse is:

  • a skilled worker (NOC O, A or B) and has a valid work permit for more than 6 months.
  • a student at a public post-secondary school, such as college or university
  • applying for the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program in a job under NOC O, A, B or C.
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