If you are planning to work in Canada, you likely require a work permit. There are several types of work permits, including:
Work Permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
Generally, employers in Canada who wish to hire a foreign worker must first obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s Service Canada office. The purpose of the application is to require the employer to demonstrate that hiring the foreign worker will have a neutral impact on the labor market (e.g. that no Canadians or permanent residents are available for the position, or the foreign worker’s employment will result in the hiring of further Canadians or permanent residents). In order to obtain an LMIA, the employer must ensure that it has met several requirements, including:
• Minimum recruitment efforts wherein the employer must advertise the position for a specific period of time to attract Canadians and permanent residents;
• Offer wages that are at or above the median wage for the position offered, unless the employer is relying on the low-wage stream, in which case there are caps on the number of foreign workers that may be hired;
• Prepare a transition plan identifying the methods the employer will use to recruit, retain and train Canadians or permanent residents, or assist the employee to become a permanent resident;
• Provide a variety of documents regarding the employer to demonstrate operational and financial capacity.
The Labour Market Impact Assessment process can be challenging, however, we have over two decades of experience advising and representing employers in a variety of sectors to successfully obtain LMIAs and employ key foreign workers.
LMIA-exempt Work Permits
Not all offers of employment to foreign workers require a Labour Market Impact Assessment. We can advise you whether your company could benefit from one of the exemptions to the LMIA requirement, and guide you through the application process.
Work Permits Pursuant to an International Agreement
Canada has signed several international agreements, which include provisions relating to working in Canada. These include the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, and the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) and numerous international non-trade agreements.
There are a variety of work permits which can be obtained based on the significant economic, cultural or social benefit that the employee’s presence will have if permitted to work in Canada. These permits include:
• Intra-company transferees;
• Emergency repair personnel;
• Television and film production workers;
• Mobilité francophone.
There are also work permits granted to those who come from countries with reciprocal agreements, such as:
• International Experience Canada (primarily for young workers under 35);
There are also work permits that can be designated by the Minister for public policy reasons, including:
• On-campus work permits for students;
• Off-campus work permits for students;
• Post-graduation work permits for students;
• Post-doctorate fellows and research award recipients;
• Spouses and common law partners of full-time students with a study permit;
• Spouses and common law partners of skilled workers with a work permit;
• Foreign medical or dental residents and medical research fellows.
Also, exemptions can be provided to workers involved in religious or charitable work.
Self-Support, Humanitarian, Refugees
Some types of work permits can be obtained in situations of difficulty, including refugee claimants, students who find themselves destitute, or those who should be permitted to work for humanitarian reasons.
Work Without a Work Permit
There are several types of temporary employment which can be done without a work permit, including clergy, athletes and coaches, emergency workers, military personnel, news reporters, public speakers, crew members and many more. To find out if you can work without a permit, please contact us.
A Note about Business Visitors
Thousands of visitors come to Canada each year to conduct business or invest in Canada. It is important to understand the difference between a “business person” and a “business visitor” as a business visitor may carry on certain activities without a work permit, however many business people require work permits as they are directly entering the Canadian labour market. If you wish to travel to Canada on business without a work permit, you are permitted to do the following:
• Buy Canadian goods or services for a foreign business or government;
• Take orders for your goods or services from Canadian customers;
• Go to meetings, conferences, conventions or trade fairs;
• Provide after-sales services (although not hands-on labour);
• Receive training from a Canadian parent company that you work for outside of Canada;
• Provide training to employees of a Canadian branch of a foreign company;
• Receive training from a Canadian company that has sold you equipment or services.
Be aware that business visitors may not provide consulting services, as this activity requires a work permit.