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Work Permit: The Basics

Work Permit: The Basics

Many Filipinos consider Canada as a preferred destination for employment opportunities abroad and one of the most frequently asked questions on Canadian immigration is how a foreign worker can work in Canada. Not only does Canada have labor shortages to fill, it is also open to different cultural backgrounds and diversity.

Here are some basic information on Canada’s work permit to help you determine whether working in Canada is a viable option for you.

  1. Foreign nationals are not allowed to work in Canada unless authorized by a work permit or the immigration regulations. 

Aside from Canadian citizens and permanent residents, only foreign nationals who have been issued a work permit are allowed to work in Canada. However, there are specific cases wherein a foreign national can work without a work permit. The immigration regulation provides for these exemptions here.

To apply for a work permit, a worker needs a job offer, an employment contract, a copy of a valid LMIA and an LMIA number. Furthermore, the worker must prove to an officer that they will leave Canada once the work permit expires and that they are not inadmissible to Canada.

2. A standard work permit requires a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). However, there are some programs and policies that provide LMIA exemptions.

In most cases, obtaining a work permit is a two-step process. First, your prospective employer must apply for an LMIA to Employment and Social Development Canada. Second, the prospective employee must apply for a work permit to the IRCC.

An LMIA is a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker. Basically, a positive LMIA gives a Canadian employer the permission to hire a temporary foreign worker. It shows that the employer has tried to hire a Canadian citizen or permanent resident but has been unable to find a suitable candidate for the position. A positive LMIA shows that there is a need to hire a foreign worker to fill the job.

Not all work permit applications require an LMIA. Some employment under free trade agreements and intra-company transfers do not require it. Also, Canada has public policies that allow spouses or common-law partners of foreign workers or students to apply for an LMIA-exempt open work permit. These are just a few examples of cases wherein a foreign national may not need an LMIA.

3. In most cases, work permits are restricted to a specific occupation, employer and duration.

The standard work permit specifies the NOC occupation, employer and duration of the authorized work. These work permit conditions must be followed or it may be cancelled. This means that once a worker is issued a work permit, he cannot simply change employers, positions or extend employment without first applying for a new work permit, a work permit change of condition or work permit extension.

An open work permit is a type of work permit that is not restricted to a specific occupation or employer. Open work permit holders may work at any occupation and with any employer for a specific period of time. Not all workers are eligible for an open work permit. Only those qualified under certain immigration regulations or policies may be issued an open work permit.

Work permit regulations and policies can be a complex discussion, with very specific requirements, exemptions and conditions. It is always good to be well-informed before accepting any offers of employment to Canada, to prevent any issues down the road.

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