Canadian Work Permit

Most foreign nationals who come to work in Canada need a work permit. In Canada, there are two types of work permits: one is the Open Work Permit, and the other is the Employer-specific Work Permit. Under an Open Work Permit, the holder can work for any legal employer; while under the Employer-specific Work Permit (Closed Work Permits), the holder can only work for a designated employer.


Open work permits

Post-Graduation Work Permits: After studying at a designated educational institution approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students for more than 8 months, you may apply for a graduation work permit for up to 3 years as per the length of study.


Co-op Work Permit: To study in Canada, if the school curriculum has a Co-op and needs to be completed for graduation, then when applying for a study permit, the applicant can apply for an Co-op work permit together. In most cases, the expiry date of the Co-op work permit will be the same as the expiry date of the study permit. 


Spousal Sponsorship from Inside of Canada (Spousal Sponsorship from Inside of Canada): If the spouse of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident has legal status in Canada, he/she can submit an open work permit application along with the Spousal Sponsorship application from inside of Canada. 


Spouse Accompanying International Student or Workers: If the main applicant meets one of the following conditions, his/her spouse can apply for an open work permit.

  • a spouse of a skilled worker in an occupation under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0, A or B approved to work in Canada six months or longer

  • a spouse of someone applying for the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program in a job under NOC 0, A, B or C

  • a spouse of a foreign student at a public post-secondary school, such as a college or university or collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) in Quebec

  • a family member of a foreign representative, or

  • a family member of a foreign military member who is working in Canada

International Experience Canada: International Experience Canada (IEC) is a Government of Canada program designed to give 18-35 year-old travellers from around 33 selected countries the opportunity to work in Canada.


Bridging Open Work Permit: A bridging open work permit (BOWP) lets you keep working while you wait for the results of your permanent residence application. You may be eligible if you applied to one of the qualified permanent residence programs. 


Refugee Claimant Work Permit: If the applicant is in Canada and has submitted a Refugee claim, he can apply for an open work permit while waiting for the result.


Employer-specific work permits

Unlike open work permits, closed work permits usually clearly specify the holder’s employer and position; if a holder wants to work for a different employer or engage in a different position, the holder needs to reapply for a work permit.


Work permit supported by LMIA

LMIA work permit: A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker.


A positive LMIA will show that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job. It will also show that no Canadian worker or permanent resident is available to do the job. A positive LMIA is sometimes called a confirmation letter.


Global Talent Stream: The purpose of this program is to attract and recruit tech elites from all over the world. Eligible applicants can obtain a work visa as early as 2 weeks from the date of application.


GTS is divided into two categories: A and B. 

  • Category A: There are 45 Canadian companies and organizations listed in this category. If a Canadian company is recommended by one of these companies or organizations, it can hire foreign talents in any profession. 

  • Category B: There are 12 occupations listed in this category, and the occupations and salary recruited by Canadian companies are required to meet one of these 12 occupations.


LMIA exempt work permit

If one of the following conditions is met, the applicant does not need to obtain an LMIA issued by the Ministry of Labor when applying for a closed work permit.


International agreements: Canada has signed reciprocal agreements with some countries, allowing citizens of these countries to work in Canada without LMIA under certain circumstances. Such as:

  • Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (LMIA Exemption Code: T21-T24); 

  • General Agreement on Trade in Services-General Agreement on Trade in Services (LMIA Exemption Code: T33); 

  • And the aforementioned International Experience Canada Work Permit (depending on the type of application, there are two options: open and closed work permits) (LMIA Exemption Code: C21);


Federal–provincial or territorial agreements: : These agreements include the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (LMIA Exemption Code: C18).


Canadian interests: If you can bring important social or cultural benefits to Canada, you do not need to apply for LMIA, such as:

  • Entrepreneurs (LMIA Exemption Code: C11); 

  • Francophone mobility (LMIA Exemption Code: C16); 

  • Intra-company transferees: The company can temporarily transfer its employees to work in a Canadian branch (LMIA Exemption Code: C12)


*Remarks, this article mainly discusses two major categories of open and closed work permits. All Canadian open work permits can also be classified as the LMIA exempt work permits.






Written by Xueran HAN
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC)