Work Permit in Canada

If you are thinking about moving to Canada to work temporarily, like the 90,000 people who enter Canada with a work permit each year, you might have questions about the payoff.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


What is a work permit in Canada?

There are several types of work permits: There are opened or restricted, permits for interns, for students or for young professionals (The International Experience). There are others for skilled workers or low-skilled workers, for live-in caregivers, and more.

In most cases, a work permit allows you to work in Canada for a pre-determined period of time, and for a specific employer. It is valid for a maximum of four years. It is attached to your passport because it justifies your status in Canada as a temporary resident. In some cases, you may need to be in possession of a temporary resident visa as well as a work permit.


How to obtain a work permit in Canada:

Generally your (future) employer in Canada takes care of the formalities. You first need to be hired by a Canadian employer to obtain your legal status in Canada.

Your employer must contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to apply for your work permit. The procedure, for your employer and yourself, consists in several steps, which include:
  • Obtaining a Labour Market Opinion, to prove that it’s difficult for the position to be filled by a Canadian citizen,
  • Obtaining a Quebec Certificate of Acceptance or Selection,
  • Proving your good health and bona fide (absence of a criminal record),
  • Paying the fees ($155),
  • Sending a complete application kit with all required documents.


What about my family?

Your family can be included in your work permit, provided they meet the requirements for temporary stays in Canada and they are taken into account in your formalities from the start.

Your spouse’s work permit in Canada will be linked to yours, but it will not be restricted. That means he or she will not have to find a job before your arrival and won’t be bound to a specific employer (open work permit).

Your children (younger than 16 years of age) will be allowed to study in Canada (study permit).

Note: same-sex couples have equal rights in matters of immigration in Canada (as in many other matters!). You can apply together.

And if I want to stay?

Once in the country, you can extend your work permit in Canada with the same employer, modify your work permit to change employers, or apply for permanent residence through the Canadian experience programme. Various conditions apply and I advise you to browse the CIC website for more information on the work permit.


To better understand all your permit and visa options, you’ll benefit from reading  the ‘Visas and Immigration” chapter of “The Guide” at




About Jerry

Before my family and I relocated to Canada where I received a teaching opportunity at one of the country’s renowned universities, my wife and kids were naturally full of questions. What would the schools be like? How does healthcare work? Is Canadian French very different than European French? What about Canadian English verses European English? How cold are those frigid northern winters we’ve heard so much about? The only way to fully understand a new city or country is to experience it first-hand. My family and I decided to embrace our relocation as an adventure. Years after the move, we still consider “The Great White North” our home, and we couldn’t be more satisfied with our quality of life here. // Avant que ma famille et moi-même soyons relocalisés au Canada parce que j’ai eu l’opportunité d’aller enseigner dans l’une des universités assez réputée du pays, ma femme et mes enfants avaient naturellement beaucoup de questions. A quoi ressemblent les écoles ? Comment fonctionne le système de santé ? Le français canadien est-il vraiment différent de celui parlé en France ? L’anglais canadien est-il vraiment différent de celui parlé en Europe? Est-ce que les hivers sont vraiment très rigoureux? La meilleure façon de comprendre entièrement une nouvelle ville et un pays est d’en faire personnellement l’expérience. Ma famille et moi avons décidé de voir la relocalisation comme une aventure. Quelques années plus tard, nous considérons “Le Grand Nord Blanc” comme notre maison et nous ne pourrions pas être plus satisfaits.