Note: To work in Canada a job offer may be required. We are not an employment agency and do not provide candidates with job offers ourselves.
Canada welcomes thousands of temporary foreign workers and professionals each year, to help grow its workforce and economy.
The rules to obtain Temporary Foreign Worker status can be complex. In most cases, foreign workers need a work permit to work in Canada. To be eligible for a work permit, workers are generally required to have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer, who has obtained a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). However, there are many exceptions. Some foreign nationals do not need a temporary work permit to work in Canada, and others only require a work permit, without an LMIA. Foreign workers may be accompanied by their spouse or partner, and dependent children. Fill in our free assessment and let Meridian advise you on your best options.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) allows employers in Canada to hire foreign nationals to fill temporary labour and skill shortages. In most cases the employer has to obtain a LMIA, which verifies that there is a need for a temporary worker and that no Canadians or Permanent Residents are available to do the job. In general, for a foreign national to qualify for a temporary work visa, you need a valid job offer (or contract) and a LMIA through the employer. Other requirements include proof of sufficient financial support, and possibly police certificates and a medical examination.
What is a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?
Before a Temporary Work Permit can be issued, a Canadian employer who intends to hire a foreign worker may need to apply for a LMIA. Generally speaking, employers must provide evidence that they have attempted to find qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill job positions before turning to foreign workers. In addition, employers may be inspected for compliance to government regulations after their employee has begun working in Canada. Employers can contact us for help obtaining a positive LMIA.
Post Graduation Work Permit
Students who have graduated from a Canadian college or university can obtain a Post Graduation Work Permit which allows them to work for any employer in Canada without the need for an LMIA.
Who does not need a Work Permit?
The list of persons who do not need a work permit to work temporarily in Canada includes, among others:
- news reporters
- public speakers
- NAFTA business visitors
- artists, athletes and coaches
- crew members
- foreign government officers
Not sure if you need to apply for a Canadian work permit? Contact us for an evaluation of your situation.
Who needs a Work Permit, but not an LMIA?
In other cases, foreign nationals do have to apply for a work permit, but do not need an LMIA from the employer because their job is in the interest of Canada or falls under an international trade agreement, such as NAFTA. This includes, among others:
- spouses/partners of skilled workers or full-time students
- workers nominated by a Province for Permanent Residence
- coop students
- people in exchange programs
- refugee claimants
- entrepreneurs and workers transferred within a company
- religious workers.
The International Mobility Program provides more information about who qualifies for an LMIA exemption.
NAFTA business people, professionals, traders and investors
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA – in the near future to be replaced by the USMCA) – facilitates processing for designated US and Mexican citizens who apply for a Temporary Work Visa. Work permits under NAFTA do not generally need an LMIA. Because US and Mexican citizens do not require a Temporary Residence Visa to enter Canada, applications for a NAFTA Work Permit can be made both at a Visa office abroad (online or in person), or at al Canadian Port of Entry (border crossing or airport).
Apart from NAFTA business visitors, who do not need a work permit or LMIA, the following categories of temporary work are covered under NAFTA:
- Professionals (based on a specific list of qualifying professions)
- Intra-Company Transfers
- Traders and Investors
US or Mexican citizens who fall under these three categories do require a work permit, but they don't need a LMIA. The Government of Canada provides further details on International Free Trade Agreements and Temporary Entry.
Global Skills Strategy
Canada has introduced the Global Skills Strategy for companies that want to attract top talent.
This program is managed through a dedicated online service channel for employers and will process temporary work permit applications within two weeks. This also includes processing of the visitor visa, work permit, or study permit applications of the foreign national’s spouse or partner and dependent children.
The Global Skills Category has two streams:
- For candidates with a valid job offer at a managerial (NOC 0) or professional (NOC A) skill level, who do not require a LMIA.
- For candidates with a job offer and a positive LMIA through the Global Talent Stream.
Foreign workers may be eligible for the Global Talent Stream if they have been referred by one of the Stream's designated partners which are hiring unique and specialized talent. Foreign workers may also be eligible for this stream if a company (not limited to designated partners) is seeking to hire highly-skilled foreign workers to fill positions in occupations found on the Global Talent Occupations List.
International Experience Canada
Young foreigners aged 18-35 years from selected countries can obtain an flexible Open Work Permit (no job offer or LMIA required) to travel and work in Canada for a period of 12 months under the Working Holiday stream of International Experience Canada (IEC).
IEC also has a stream for Young Professionals, who need a job offer first (but no LMIA required) to obtain an employer-specific work permit
The IEC stream for International Co-op Internships is designated for post-secondary students who have a job offer (no LMIA required) for a work placement or internship directly linked to their area of studies.
Become a Canadian Permanent Resident
After gaining one year of skilled work experience in Canada, workers may be eligible for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class or the Federal Skilled Worker Program. By obtaining a Bridging Open Work Permit, candidates can continue working while their application for Permanent Residence is processed.
Quebec has its own Quebec Experience Class (PEQ) that allows those with Quebec study and/or work experience to immigrate to Quebec as a Canadian Permanent Resident.
Several Canadian Provinces and Territories have special programs for foreign graduates under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) which offer a viable path towards obtaining Permanent Resident status.
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