Canada Work Permits

Many international workers seek opportunities to work in Canada because of its diverse economy, safe environment, high wages, and the potential to embark upon a pathway to permanent residency.

Types of Work Permit

There are two main types of available work permit in Canada: employer-specific work permits and open work permits.

Employer-Specific work permit

An employer-specific work permit allows you to work in Canada according to the conditions on your work permit, such as:

  • the name of the specific employer you can work for
  • how long you can work
  • the location where you can work

If you are granted this type of work permit, you can only work for the employer specified in your permit and for a specific allowed period of time. In case you are abused at work and want to quit your job, you may be eligible to apply for an open work permit in order to do so and take up a position at a different employer in Canada.

To apply for an employer-specific work permit, you must first already have a job offer from an employer in Canada. Before you can make an application, your employer must give you either a copy of a Labour Market Impact Assessment or an offer of employment number. Which of these you will need depends on your occupation.

Open work permit

An open work permit usually allows you to work for any employer in Canada, except for one that:

  • has been placed on a list of employers who have failed to comply with the conditions (and is therefore ineligible to sponsor work permits); or
  • regularly offers adult entertainment or services

You can apply for an open work permit in the following circumstances:

  • You are an international student who has graduated in Canada from a designated learning institution and is eligible to apply under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program
  • You are a student and are unable to pay for your studies
  • You currently hold an employer-specific work permit but are being abused in your current job in Canada (or are at risk of being abused)
  • You are the dependent of a family member who has applied for permanent residence in Canada
  • You are the spouse, common-law partner or dependent child of a low- or high-skilled worker living and working in Canada
  • You are the spouse or common-law partner of an international student undertaking their studies in Canada
  • You are the spouse or common-law partner of someone who has applied for the Atlantic Immigration Program
  • You or a family member are a refugee, refugee claimant or protected person
  • You are currently under a removal order which is unenforceable
  • You currently hold a temporary resident permit
  • You are currently in Canada and are being sponsored by your spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or accompanying dependent child
  • You are an investor who has received a Quebec Notice of Intent to Select

Open work permits can sometimes still have limited restrictions, most commonly:

  • on the type of job you can take up
  • the locations in which you are permitted to work (for example, in a specific province under the Provincial Nominee Program)


Whether you will be eligible to apply for a work permit will depend on whether you are seeking an open or employer-specific permit, as well as whether you are applying from inside or outside of Canada. However, the following eligibility requirements are common to all work permit applications:

  • you must be prepared to demonstrate that you intend to leave Canada upon the expiry of your work permit
  • you must show that you can support yourself and your family members while you are in Canada
  • you must have sufficient funds to allow you to return home when your permit expires
  • you must obey Canadian law and be prepared to present evidence that you have no criminal record in any country you have lived in previously
  • you must not be a danger to Canadian national security
  • you must be in good health and may have to prove this with a medical exam
  • you must not be intending to work for an employer listed as ineligible to sponsor work permits
  • you must not be intending to work for an employer who regularly offers adult services
  • you must be prepared to provide any documentation required by immigration officers when entering the country

Please note that some individuals will not be permitted to apply for a work permit at the Canadian border. Please contact us if you are unsure if this applies to you and we will be able to discuss your circumstances and advise accordingly.

Processing time and fees

Processing times for work permits vary depending on what kind of permit you are applying for and where you are applying from.

Application fee: from CAD $100

Kunal Thakur

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant R#519955

Kunal Thakur is a passionate Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) with close to two decades of immigration experience, during which he has successfully guided thousands of people on their immigration journey. He is quick in responding to client queries and constantly strives to give his clients the best possible advice. Kunal brings immense value to our team with his talks and discourses on immigration. When not in front of his laptop reading and analysing client cases, he enjoys spending his spare time exploring new places and trying new things. Kunal is currently based in Adelaide, Australia. You can book a time with him here.

[email protected]