For Canadian immigration purposes, “work” is defined as an activity for which remuneration is earned or as an activity that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market. Canadian immigration authorities require a Work Permit to be issued for a limited number of work-related activities in Canada. A job offer from a Canadian employer is usually a prerequisite to receiving a Canadian Work Permit. In some instances, Canadian immigration regulations allow for Open Work Permits, which are not employer-specific. Work Permits are always temporary in nature, but can often be extended from inside Canada. Normally, Work Permits will only be granted by Canadian immigration authorities if supported by a positive “Labour Market Impact Assessment” (LMIA) letter issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), indicating that the proposed employment will not adversely affect Canadian workers.

For foreign workers, an offer of employment from a Canadian employer is usually required before the worker may be granted a Temporary Work Permit by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). There are several steps to this process. Depending upon the foreign worker’s country of citizenship, a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) may also need to be obtained in order to enter Canada.

  • Step 1: Employer applies for Labour Market Impact Assessment, if necessary.
  • Step 2: Employer extends Temporary Job Offer.
  • Step 3: Foreign Worker applies for Work Permit.
  • Step 4: Work Permit is issued.


Step 1: Employer applies for Labour Market Impact Assessment, if necessary.
Before a Temporary Work Permit can be issued, the Canadian employer who wishes to hire a temporary foreign worker may need to apply for and be granted a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) by ESDC, which will grant a positive LMIA if it is satisfied that there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available to do the job.
Work Permits may be issued by Canadian immigration officials without the LMIA requirement in a limited number of situations, as follows:

  • Under international agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA);
  • Due to the significant economic, social or cultural benefits the work activity will bring to Canadians;
  • As part of reciprocal agreements Canada and its provinces/territories have entered into with other countries, such as youth and teacher exchange programs;
  • So that international students studying in Canada can fulfill academic requirements, known as co-op placements;
  • To allow the spouses/common-law partners of Work Permit and certain Study Permit holders in Canada to work in Canada;
  • Because the nature of the work is charitable or religious;
  • In recognition that certain persons in Canada for reasons other than the above-mentioned, such as the making of a refugee claim, need to support themselves.


Step 2: Employer extends Temporary Job Offer.
Once the LMIA is granted, the Canadian employer can provide a temporary job offer to the foreign worker. The employer must send a copy of the positive LMIA along with a detailed job offer letter to the foreign worker.


Step 3: Foreign Worker applies for Work Permit.
With these documents, the foreign worker can apply to ESDC for a Canada Temporary Work Permit.


Step 4: Work Permit is issued.
A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer will issue the Canada Temporary Work Permit at the point of entry when the foreign worker arrives in Canada.

You can also work in Canada temporarily after graduation. If you graduated from a designated learning institution in Canada, and want to stay and work in Canada temporarily, you may be eligible to apply for a PGWP (Post Graduate Work Permit). This work experience can help you qualify for permanent residence in Canada.


Contact Us for more information about working in Canada.