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If you wish to work in Canada you will require a Work Permit. A work permit is not an immigration document and does not allow you to live in Canada permanently. It is issued only to authorize you to work in Canada for a temporary period of time.

You cannot apply for a work permit if you just want to come to Canada to look for work. In most cases, you need to have an offer of employment from a Canadian employer confirmed by the Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) before you apply for a work permit.

A work permit is usually employer-specific and contains certain conditions, including the name of the employer, location of the employment, length of the employment, and the type of work to be performed. If you decide to change the employer, you must apply for a new work permit.

The procedure of applying for a work permit:

Step 1: Obtaining a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) from Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC).

It is the responsibility of your Canadian employer to apply for a labour market impact assessment. The employer must provide details of the position being offered, proof of recruitment efforts in Canada, and evidence of their inability to find a suitable Canadian citizen or a permanent resident to fill the position. A positive LMIA confirms that the employer can fill the job with a foreign worker.

Step 2: Applying for a work permit outside of Canada.

Once your employer obtains a positive LMIA, you can apply for a work permit to a Canadian Visa Office responsible for the country/ region where you live.* If the immigration officer is satisfied that you are qualified to fill the position and meet the general admissibility requirements for entering the country (criminal, security, health), a work permit will be issued.

In certain cases, a foreign national does not require a labour market opinion in order to apply for a work permit. The following groups of specialists do not need to have a positive LMIA when applying for a work permit (they just need to have an offer of employment in Canada):
  1. Foreign students holding a valid study permit who apply for an Off-Campus Work Permit or a Post-Graduation Work Permit.
  2. Specialists covered under international agreements: US and Mexican citizens whose occupations fall under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); business visitors, professionals and intra-company transferees under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
  3. Some entrepreneurs, intra-company transferees, and other types of workers who can provide significant benefit to Canadians or permanent residents by working in Canada.
  4. Spouses/ common-law partners of skilled foreign workers and certain foreign students.

If you are issued a work permit, your spouse and children can obtain temporary resident visas to accompany you to Canada. If your family members intend to work in Canada, they can apply for an ”open” work permit. An “open” work permit means that they can work for any employer and in any position in Canada and they do not need an HRSDC authorization for that. Your family members can either apply for a work permit at the same time as you, or while in Canada.


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