Canada offers many options for foreign nationals to work in Canada. We have provided a general description of the most common types of work permits for Canada below. To help you determine what type of work permit is required in your circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us.

LMIA Based Work Permits

Typically, in order for a foreign national to work in Canada, the Canadian employer must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The Canadian employer must advertise the proposed position nationally to prove that there are no Canadian citizens or permanent residents qualified to perform the duties of the job. Upon issuance of a positive LMIA, the foreign national may proceed to apply for a work permit at a Canadian Consulate in their country of origin or at the Canadian port of entry, if eligible.

Please follow this link for a brief overview of the LMIA process.

Global Talent Stream (GTS): GTS falls under the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program and is designed for innovative firms in Canada hiring unique, specialized, and highly-skilled temporary foreign workers (Category A), and those seeking to hire highly-skilled foreign workers to fill positions in occupations on the Global Talent Occupations List (Category B). GTS offers expedited processing for most applications and there is no advertising requirement. Employers are required to develop a Labour Market Benefits Plan that demonstrates their commitment to activities that will have lasting, positive impacts on the Canadian labour market.

More information on the Global Talent Stream may be found here.

LMIA Exempt Work Permits

There are several work permit categories that are exempt from the LMIA requirement.

Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Work Permit: This work permit category is applicable to foreign nationals being transferred from one branch of the same company to another one in Canada. Companies must be linked by common ownership and the foreign national must have been employed by the sending company for at least one year (full time) in the previous three-year period from the date of initial application. The role in Canada must either require specialized knowledge or must be a managerial position.

Please follow this link for a brief overview of the process.

Entry as a Business Visitor (After Sales): This category is for foreign nationals being sent to Canada to fit, install, maintain or repair machines, equipment, computer programmes, or other technical systems for a client or a branch office of their own company. This process usually applies when the foreign national is being sent to fulfill foreign contractual obligations to a Canadian client company. There must be an existing service agreement or purchase order in place between the sending company and the client. The work must be pursuant to the original sales contract and any warranty or service agreement connected to the sale. The work must also require specialized knowledge (which excludes hands-on building and construction work).

Work Permits under International Free Trade Agreements (FTAs): FTAs help facilitates, on a reciprocal basis, temporary entry for businesspersons between Canada and various countries. Eligible persons entering under an FTA will generally require a work permit but are exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

  • Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA): CUSMA eases the temporary entry of citizens from the United States and Mexico, whose activities are related to the trade of goods or services, or for investment. Businesspersons covered under CUSMA are grouped into four categories:
    • Business Visitors– Authorized to enter Canada for business purposes without the need for a work permit. The business activities may be related to research and design, growth, manufacture and production, marketing, sales, distribution, after-sales, and general service.
    • Professionals– Provide pre-arranged professional services, for which they are qualified, for a Canadian company. Professionals must fall under one of the 60 occupations authorized under CUSMA.
    • Intra-Company Transferees– Employed by an American or Mexican enterprise in a managerial or executive capacity, or in one which involves specialized knowledge, and are being transferred to the Canadian enterprise, parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, to provide services in the same capacity.
    • Traders and Investors– Carry on substantial trade in goods or services between the United States or Mexico and Canada or have committed, or are in the process of committing, a substantial amount of capital in Canada. Traders and investors must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity or one that involves essential skills.

For more information on the work permit options under CUSMA or other existing FTAs, please contact us.

Reciprocal Employment: Foreign nationals may be granted a work permit in Canada without an LMIA based on reciprocity. Some established reciprocal opportunities include International youth exchange programs; academic exchanges; cultural agreements; work related to research, education or training programs; public policy, competitiveness and economy (including the spouses or common-law partners of highly skilled workers); spouses or common-law partners of foreign students; and post-graduation employment.

Francophone Work Permit: This process is eligible to foreign nationals that are fluent in French and will live and work in a Francophone community outside of Quebec; use French on a daily basis; and work in a job at a National Occupation Code (NOC) skill level 0, A, or B. The foreign national will be subject to language requirements.

Significant Benefit to Canada: Foreign nationals may be granted a work permit in Canada without an LMIA on the basis of demonstrated benefit to Canada as a result of their employment. To qualify for this permit, the benefits to Canada must be evident.