Expanding into a country or hiring a workforce abroad can lead your business to great profits, but unfamiliar laws and regulations can counteract your company’s goals and plans. Canada is in the world’s leading top 10 economies and highly popular with individuals looking to work abroad. It is among the friendliest and most tolerant countries and even though unemployment is low, the job market is competitive.
At Bradford Jacobs, we want to eliminate this complicated part. By using our PEO-service we can arrange all needed visas and permits including the entire application process without your physical presence.
Few companies have these resources, or the time to ensure that new employees have the right immigration documentation. We are experts in hiring staff, applying for work visas in Canada and ensuring employees meet Canadian work visa requirements with the correct documentation.
Our team is trained to research the latest information on Canada visas and work permits and therefore, we created a guide to introduce you to the rules and requirements. By reading this guide, you will get familiar with all the requirements so you or your employees can start working in Canada in no time.
What types of Work Visas and Permits for Canada are there?
The requirements to enter, work or live in Canada depend on where people are from, how long they want to stay and purpose of travel. Most will need to have their fingerprints taken, so this will need to be checked. Those travelling to work, will typically require an offer of employment and the paperwork will need to be completed outside Canada.
To find out about your eligibility to apply to work and live in Canada, you can use this tool.
There is an extensive list of visa-exempt countries, those needing an Electronic Travel Authorization and those who must apply for an entry visa (Visitor Visa or Temporary Residence Visa).
To be clear:
- A Visa gives people the right to enter and to travel around Canada
- A Work Permit is permission to work or study in Canada, but it is the visas that allow entry and re-entry
- A Residence Visa gives temporary residence to live in Canada but not to work unless they have a work permit
Each has requirements and paperwork to complete.
Some nationalities do not require a work permit. Check here to find out more about the exempt countries.
There are two types of Work Permit in Canada which are issued by the immigration office. Eligibility needs to be checked as this depends on a number of factors.
- Open Work Permit: These are given under certain circumstances and allows foreigners to work for any eligible employer. There are three distinct types which permit changing employer, location, or type of work. A ‘Labor Market Impact Assessment’ (LMIA) or a job offer are not needed.
- Employer-Specific Work Permit: This is for a specific employer, a specified duration and for a particular location. This is the most common permit for potential employees.
Most workers initially take the temporary work permit route. After a year or so, employees may be eligible for one of the programs under the Express Entry Scheme which can lead to permanent employment / work permit: these are, Federal Skilled Employees, Federal Skilled Tradesmen, Canadian Experience Class programs.
For those between the ages of 18 to 35, there is the International Experience Canada (IEC)
This gives the younger generation the opportunity to work and travel in the country without a job offer.
Two main routes through which foreigners can apply for a work permit are: The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) gives opportunities for foreign workers over a brief period. Employers need a ‘Labor Market Impact Assessment’ (LMIA) from the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).This allows them to employ foreigners for temporary labor or skill shortages after the position has been advertised to Canadians and permanent residents. TFWP allows employment for six months, which can be extended. There are four categories of TFWP – the main ones for companies are:
- The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP): gives opportunities for foreign workers over a brief period. Employers need a ‘Labor Market Impact Assessment’ (LMIA) from the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
This allows them to employ foreigners for temporary labor or skill shortages after the position has been advertised to Canadians and permanent residents. TFWP allows employment for six months, which can be extended. There are four categories of TFWP – the main ones for companies are:
- Highly skilled or professional employees – Global Talent Stream, which is part of the Global Skills Strategy to enable employers to fast track recruiting top talent from outside Canada.
- Low skilled workers.
- The International Mobility Program (IMP): This allows companies to employ temporary workers without an LMIA when it is beneficial for Canada and Canadians under a reciprocal agreement.
There are many distinct category of work permits, and exemptions cover workers, highly skilled professionals, intra-company transferees, traders, and investors. A Business Visa (Visitor Visa or Temporary Resident Visa) is also available for business professionals and delegates allowing visits for business purposes.
The ‘Start-up’ Visa Program, for instance, aims to recruit entrepreneurs and link them with Canadian private sector businesses to promote start-ups and grants permanent residence to those who qualify.
How to obtain a Canada Work Permit / Visa?
First, the applicant must decide which work permit to apply for:
- Employer-Specific permit: allows an employee to work in Canada under certain conditions which will be written on the document:
- The employer’s name
- The duration of the permit
- Where the employee will be working (if necessary)
- Open Work Permit: has no specific employer named other than the company, which needs to be eligible and follow all requirements. However, these permits are only granted under certain circumstances or situations. There are three diverse types which allow change of employer, location, or type of work. A ‘Labor Market Impact Assessment’ (LMIA) or a job offer are not needed.
Typically, most applicants must apply from outside Canada at a local Embassy or Consulate, in their home country and have a job offer.
There are particular requirements depending on where and when the application is made - for all applicants. These include:
- Documentation proving they will leave the country when the work permit lapses
- Have sufficient funds for their stay and return journey
- No criminal record, requiring a clearance certificate from police
- Medical examination documents
- Not plan to work for an “ineligible” employer previously found to be non-compliant
- Any other documents requested by the consulate officer on entry to Canada
Many employers also require a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) previous to hiring foreign nationals or Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) and once received, a copy should be issued to the employee so they can apply for the work permit.
For eligibility requirements for applicants from outside Canada, check here.
- Some nationalities are visa exempt
- Some workers can apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA)
- Others will require a Temporary Residence Visa (TRV)
When applicants, who need an ETA or Temporary Residence Visa, apply for a Work Permit at their local Embassy or Consulate, they will not have to fill out a separate form or pay further costs. This will be issued along with documents e.g., Work Permit, required to enter Canada for employment.
How to apply for Visa/Work Permit for Canada
To find out about your eligibility to apply to work and live in Canada, you can use this tool which will also show suitable programs to apply for.
Applications must meet different criteria depending on the respective immigration program. Questions focus on work experience, income, details of job offer, education, languages, age, nationality, and family members. This will take about 10 minutes.
Since COVID, most applicants should apply online.
Employer-specific work permit: The employer must have applied for a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to prove that the company is allowed to hire foreign nationals on a temporary basis.
- A completed IMM 1295 application form for applying outside of Canada
- All fees applicable e.g., applying and processing the application form, for biometrics, etc.
- Passport copy showing all details, validity, and photo
- Two photographs with name and DOB on reverse OR fingerprints plus photo if requested
- Proof of legal status of residency
- Proof qualified for the job offered
- Copy of the LMIA from employer with the LMIA number
- Letter offering the job and a copy of employment contract
- Any documentation that is required for the entry visa - electronic travel authorization (ETA) or the Temporary Residence Visa (TRV) also known as Visitor Visa
There may be other documents required depending on which Province the employee is to be found, whether with spouse, requiring a post-graduate work permit and if LMIA-exempt. This link also supplies more detailed information about these documents.
How much is a Canada Work Visa?
- Electronic Travel Authorization - 7 CAD, US$5.5
- Visitor Visa (per person) - 100 CAD, US$80
- Employer-specific Work Permit - 155 CAD, US$123
- Open Work Permit - 155 CAD, US$123
- Open Permit Holder Fee - 100 CAD, US$80
- Start-Up Visa (with permanent residency): 2075 CAD, US$1575
- International Experience Canada (participation fee): 156 CAD, US$124
- Biometrics: 85 CAD, US$68
- Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA): 1000 CAD, US$795 for employers per worker
Working Visa / Permit for Canada
Most foreigners wanting to live and work in Canada will require some documentation. Some countries have agreements which allow their citizens to travel and enter Canada for limit periods. Some occupations do not require a work permit, but the majority of those looking for employment will.
Typically, most of those applying will have been offered a job which will require a work permit. They should apply for this from their country of residence at a local Embassy or Consulate at the same time as an entry visa (if needed). The permits are:
- Employer-Specific permit: allows an employee to work in Canada under certain conditions which will be written on the document as well as the employer’s details, how long the permit will last and where the employee will be found. This permit will require a job offer and a ‘Labor Market Impact Assessment’ (LMIA) from the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) applied for by the employer.
This is the more usual permit applied for when hired by a company/employer.
- Open Work Permit: has no specific employer named, but the company needs to be eligible and follow all requirements of the Open Work Permit. It will only be granted in certain situations. There are three distinct types which allow you to change employer, location, or type of work. A ‘Labor Market Impact Assessment’ (LMIA) or a job offer are not needed.
Two main routes through which foreigners can apply for a work permit are:
- The International Mobility Program (IMP): allows companies to employ temporary workers without an LMIA when it is beneficial for Canada and Canadians under a reciprocal agreement.
- The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP): supplies opportunities for foreign workers over a brief period. For this, employers will need a LMIA from the ESDC. This allows them to recruit foreigners to fill temporary labor or skill shortages after the position has been advertised to Canadians and permanent residents. TFWP allows employment for six months, which can be extended. There are four categories of TFWP – but the main ones for companies are:
- Highly Skilled or professional employees – Global Talent Stream which is part of the Global Skills Strategy to enable employers to fast track when they recruit top talent from outside Canada
- Low skilled workers
Alongside a Work Permit, most employees also need an entry visa - either an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) or Temporary Residence Visa (Visitor Visa). When applicants, who need one of the above, apply for a Work Permit at their local Embassy or Consulate, they will not have to fill out a separate form or pay further costs. The ETA or TRV will be issued along with the work permit to enter Canada for employment.
Employers also have obligations and must meet specific requirements. Employers of temporary foreign workers should follow conditions under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
Employers hiring through Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) must regularly review the situation and foreign employees’ working conditions, informing the Employment and Social Development of Canada (ESDC) of any changes. ESDC can inspect the employees’ circumstances at any time. Documents relevant to the LMIA and work-permits issued need to be kept for six years.
Canada Business Visa
People travelling to Canada for business purposes can live for a few days or weeks, up to a maximum of six months. However, no paid work can be undertaken within the duration of the stay. On the other hand, people can attend meetings, conferences and trade fairs as well as write contracts, network, and train staff. They can also look to expand their business interests or invest in Canada.
To qualify as a business visitor, applicants need to:
- Stay less than six months with no plans to seek employment
- Have their main location for business, income, and profits outside Canada
- Provide supporting documents with the application form
- Have a valid passport or travel document
- Have money to cover stay and return home and confirm they will leave at end of trip
- Are not a criminal, security, or health risk to Canadians
To enter Canada the following documents are also needed:
- Visitor Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA)
- Letter from the parent company
- Invitation from Canadian hosts
- Any other relevant documentation such as service agreements or contracts
More information is available here.
Make sure of eligibility before applying. Fees are non-refundable.
Business visitors are not the same as businesspeople who enter Canada to work under a free trade agreement.
Canada Visa for EU Citizens
European Union (EU) nationals are among those citizens who are visa-exempt when visiting Canada for up to six months. However, if they are entering Canada via an airport, they will require an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) which is easy to apply for online at a cost of CAD 7 (US$5.50). They will not need an ETA if they enter Canada by sea or overland.
Canada has an agreement with the EU giving opportunities for its citizens to work in Canada, under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). EU nationals covered by CETA may be able to work in Canada without needing a work permit.
Canada Visa for UK Citizens
United Kingdom citizens can visit Canada for up to six months without a visa. However, if travelling by air, they will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for the airline which can be downloaded online for CAD 7 or GBP 4.
UK Citizens, after Brexit, are not covered by the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). For more permanent work, employees need a job offer / employment contract, and their employer may require a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
There are a number of other ways into the job market depending on qualifications, age, skill shortages, temporary or permanent employment. Looking for work on Canada’s shortage occupations list eases the process through the Federal Skilled Worker Program by applying through the ‘Express Entry’ route; this can lead to more permanent employment.
Another possibility is the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) for both highly skilled and lower skilled workers.
Canada Visa for US Citizens
US passport holders can visit Canada for up to 180 days without a visa. However, for employment a work permit is needed. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) makes it easy for US citizens to obtain a work permit, which can also be completed online, with fewer requirements.
- A job-offer, or an employment contract with a Canadian company
- The occupation has to be listed in the USMCA
- Proof of US citizenship
- Proof of qualifications and relevant experience for the position offered plus educational qualifications
- Employer must obtain a positive Labor Market Opinion (LMO) or Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) showing that no Canadians can fill the position
- Supply a copy of LMO or LMIA for work permit application
Canada Visa for Chinese Citizens
Chinese citizens must obtain the proper visa, via Canadian Embassies and Consulates. Individuals travelling to Canada for short-term stays, whether to visit family, study (for less than six months) or for a short business trip need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV - Visitor Visa). This visa is not a work permit and so does not allow paid employment.
All Chinese residents need to supply a biometric profile (fingerprints and photo) as part of the visa application.
The China Transit Program allows Chinese citizens travelling to or from the US, to do so without a TRV (some conditions apply). Some visa offices in China have restrictions, so check online about which office services which areas.
For close relatives e.g., parents and grandparents, the Super Visa allows for visits up to two years and will allow for multiple trips without having to send a new application each time.
For employment, a separate work permit is needed. There are various routes into the Canadian employment market which will require a job offer, plus the employer may also need to apply for a Labor Market Impact Assessment for foreign employees. One of the schemes operated in the Canada is the Temporary Foreign Worker Program: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers.html
Work with Bradford Jacobs Global PEO services
Bradford Jacobs is a global authority on work migration requirements and are the vital link to solving complex visa, work permit and residency issues involved with recruiting into Canada.
Companies that try to plot their own path through this hazardous area risk making mistakes that will be costly to business plans and waste valuable time. Canadian authorities apply the rules vigorously. Do not risk costly mistakes. Contact us today.