Immigration: Work Permits and Labour Market Impact Assessments

A foreign individual (i.e., one who is not a Canadian permanent resident or citizen) who intends to work in Canada is typically required to possess a work permit or other authorization to legally do so. Such authorization may come in various forms, and often requires approval prior to being eligible to enter Canada for work. Significant complexity often surrounds the process of securing the proper authorization to work in Canada. 

Possible work permit options include:
  • International Treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Canada Chile Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA), or the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS);
  • Situations in which there is evidence of a significant benefit to Canada, including intra-company transfers, spousal programs, and other circumstances in which there is a social, cultural, or economic benefit to Canada; and
  • Employment and Social Development Canada (also known as Service Canada) confirmed offers of employment, known as Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs).
Another common means of obtaining a work permit is through International Experience Canada. International Experience Canada offers programs such as the Working Holiday Program and the Young Professionals Program. These programs are based on agreements that Canada has with other countries. In exchange for other countries allowing young Canadians to work overseas, Canada will allow young people from certain other countries to come and work in Canada, usually for a one-year period.

Obtaining a work permit is often a first step towards eventual immigration to Canada. Keeping your work permit current helps to ensure that a future immigration application to Canada will be simple and straightforward and not complicated by a loss of legal residency status.