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Immigration Corner | How do I get a work permit for Canada?

Published:Tuesday | July 9, 2019 | 12:21 AM
Deidre S. Powell
Deidre S. Powell

Dear Mrs Powell,

I read all the time about opportunities in Canada because of the shortage of people to work there. How do I apply for a work permit to go to Canada?


Dear AT,

There is indeed a labour shortage in some places in Canada, for certain occupations. As a result, the government of Canada have been issuing work permits to qualified individuals based on their education, skills and based on the applications of employers who are able to demonstrate a true need for the worker.

Work permits are issued to individuals who are outside or inside of Canada based on their status, education and skills. Therefore, your ability to get a work permit would depend on some important factors.

Types of Work Permit

Students: If you are applying for a permit to study at one of the designated learning institutions, you do not need to apply for a separate work permit unless co-op work is an integral part of your studies. If you are granted a work permit, you are authorised to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during the school term and full time during the school holidays.

Valid Job offer

If you have a valid job offer from an authorised employer, you may apply for a temporary authorisation to work in Canada for a specific period. The job offer must be a minimum of 30 hours per week.

Although the government of Canada recognises that there is a labour shortage in some places, some employers need to apply to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) report, before they can offer an international person a job offer. You will need to submit a copy of the job offer and the LMIA from your perspective employer.

Some jobs do not need an LMIA report. If you have already been working full time for the same employer, on a work permit for at least one year or work part time for an equal amount of time, then your employer does not need to give you an LMIA report in support of the application to renew the work permit.

There are also jobs that may be exempt based on an international agreement, a federal-provincial agreement or the 'Canadian interests' category. Due to limited space, I will not go into details about these categories in this article, except to say that some charitable and religious work are exempted.

Express Entry

Many skilled and professional individuals who can qualify under the federal skilled worker programme, federal skilled trade programme, Canadian experience class and some provincial nominee programmes, do not need to have a job offer in order to apply to live permanently and work in Canada. This is the most popular route utilised by many international workers to work permanently in Canada. You do not need a work permit in order to apply, if you have the education, skill and language proficiency in at least one of Canada’s official languages (English and French). You may sign up on my website at for more information about these programmes.

Submitting your application

You will be required to submit a complete application online or at the nearest visa application centre. You must ensure that you include all the necessary supporting documents with your application. Specifically, you will be required to submit proof that you have the experience and qualifications to do the job in accordance with Canadian standards.

Your application will be reviewed to ensure it is completed accurately, truthfully and to see if the relevant supporting documents are enclosed then a decision will be made on whether to grant you the permit. If you submit an incomplete application, your application may be rejected.

You may also be required to submit a medical and police report. In some cases, a visa officer may decide that an interview is necessary. If this is required, you will be informed and given instructions on when and where you should appear. You should take the originals of documents that you submitted online. However, most applications are completed without an interview.

I hope that you find this helpful. Should you or a perspective employer require additional information, it may be useful to consult an immigration lawyer to assist you based on the finer details of your case.

Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with main office located in Ottawa, Ontario. She is on the roster of Mediators for Ottawa, Toronto and the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica. Email: Subject line: Immigration Call 613.695.8777 or contact her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.