Work Permit for Canada: Types, Eligibility, Requirements, Application, and Processing Time

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    Sonal Vaid

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    A work permit for Canada is a document that is issued by the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), a department of the Canadian Government under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The permit authorizes an international person to work legally in Canada and paves the way towards obtaining a Canadian PR. However, the permit also sets out certain conditions for the worker. These include-

    • Type of work
    • The employer
    • Work location
    • Work duration

    Every year more than 300,000 international individuals are granted the work permit for Canada. For the year 2017-18, international immigration to Canada accounted for around 80% growth in the Canadian population. International students and visitors on a Canadian work visa were around 78,880 in 2017. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 170,000 jobs for international applicants were contributing 22 billion CAD annually to the economy.

    Work after Graduation in Canada

    An international student can work temporarily after completing his/ her graduation from a college or university in Canada. They would require a Canadian work visa to be eligible to work after graduation. This work experience can help international applicants to apply for PR through the Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry). The various types of Canadian work permits are as follows:

    • Post-graduation Work Permit (PGWP)
    • Other types of work permits
      • Open Work Permit (OWP) 
      • Employer-specific Work Permit (ESWP)

    Post-graduation Work Permit (PGWP) for Canada

    A Post-graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is a work permit that an international student may apply after finishing a post-secondary or higher education in Canada. It is an open work permit, allowing students to work for any company in Canada. Students with a PGWP are exempted from the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirements, a document that allows an employer to hire an international candidate for a job in Canada.

    The validity of a Post-graduation Work Permit depends on the length of the educational program. The maximum duration for PGWP is three years. A PGWP issued for a one year program will usually be issued for the same length of time (i.e. if the study program is 12 months, the PGWP would be valid for 12 months). However, study programs with a duration of two or more years, a PGWP may be issued for up to three years. The permit cannot be valid for a longer duration than the length of the program of study in Canada.

    To be eligible for a PGWP, a student must have attended a full-time study program from an eligible Designated Learning Institutions(DLI) in Canada for at least eight months duration. Students must apply within 180 days of completing their program and obtaining transcripts.

    Open Work Permit (OWP) for Canada

    An Open Work Permit (OWP) is a work permit that is not job-specific allowing the holder to work anywhere in Canada and for any company. OWP holders will not need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada while applying for the permit. The open work permits do not require an LMIA from Employment and Social Development Canada. For an employer looking to hire applicants with an open work permit, it is not mandatory to submit an employment offer through the Employer Portal. 

    An applicant applying for an OWP can apply for the same-

    • from outside Canada,
    • at a port of entry, or
    • after arrival to Canada.

    There are two types of Open Work Permits:

    • Unrestricted Open Permit- An unrestricted open permit allows an applicant to work in any occupation and location.
    • Restricted Open Permit- A restricted open permit restricts an occupation or location for the worker.

    Employer-specific Work Permit (ESWP) for Canada

    An Employer-specific Work Permit (ESWP) legally allows an international worker to work for a specific employer and for a certain period of time. For IRCC to issue an ESWP, basic details are required which include:

    • the name of the employer;
    • the duration of the job;
    • the location or site of work.

    This kind of a Canadian work permit is subjected to a job offer by an employer in Canada supported by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

    Number of Canadian Work Permit Holders

    Canadian Work Permit Eligibility

    The eligibility for a work permit for Canada varies depending on the location from where the applications are made. However, irrespective of the type of Canadian work permit, all applicants are required to meet the following eligibility criteria:

    • Have proof of leaving Canada after the expiration of the work permit.
    • Have proof of minimum required funds.
    • There should be no record of criminal activity. The applicant may be asked to submit a police clearance certificate.
    • Have medical exams and be in good health condition.
    • Not be a danger to the Candian security.
    • Must not be working with an ineligible employer.
    • Must not work with employers offering striptease, erotic dances, escort services erotic massages.
    • Provide additional documents, if asked by the officer.

    What are the Forms and Documents Required for Canadian Work Permit?

    While applying for a work permit from outside Canada, applicants are required to submit certain forms and documents. All the forms required by the IRCC must be completed, signed, and dated by the applicant before submitting. 

    Required Forms

    • Application for Canadian work visa made Outside of Canada (IMM 1295)
    • Family Information Form- To be filled by those aged 18 or above or by a minor traveling to Canada alone.
    • Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union (IMM 5409)
    • Use of a Representative (IMM 5476)
    • Authority to Release Personal Information to a Designated Individual (IMM 5475)- To be filled only if the applicant allows IRCC and CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) to release the candidate’s information to someone other than himself/herself.
    • Document Checklist for a Work Permit (from Outside Canada)- It is one of the forms required to be submitted along with the application.

    Required Documents 

    • Payment of the application processing fee and the other applicable fees (biometric fee or open holder permit fee) in an acceptable payment method by the visa office. 
    • A valid passport with a copy of the information page that includes:
      • Passport number
      • Issuance and expiry dates
      • Applicants photograph, name, date, and place of birth
    • 2 passport size photographs meeting the requirements of the visa application photograph specifications
    • Proof of current immigration status
    • Photocopy of Marriage Certificate, if applicable
    • Proof of eligibility for the job offered
    • Proof of LMIA provided by ESDC to the employer and copy of job offer or Offer of Employment ID number
    • Certificat d'Acceptation du Québec (Québec Acceptance Certificate- CAQ) if working in Quebec region
    • If applying for PGWP, submit proof of the completion of the study program:
      • A final transcript
      • A letter from the college/ university of graduation
    • Other specific documents as asked by the visa office in respective home countries

    Additional Eligibility for Canadian Work Permit

    Applicants may have to fulfill additional criteria, depending on the location where the work permit application is made. These are discussed in the sections below:

    Eligibility for Applicants Applying from Outside Canada

    For applicants applying from outside Canada, some of the eligibility requirements may vary depending upon the country or province from which they apply. Applicants applying from outside Canada can benefit from Global Skills Strategy’s two-week application processing. 

    Eligibility for Applicants Applying from Inside Canada

    Applicants for a Canadian work permit can apply for the same from inside Canada, if:

    • Have a valid study permit or a Canadian student visa
    • Spouses or common-law partners should have a valid study permit if required.
    • Have graduated from a Canadian university, community college, CEGEP, or other eligible schools.
    • Have a temporary resident visa, valid for six months or more
    • Are waiting on a decision for PR application.
    • Planning to claim for refugee protection
    • Are recognized as protected persons or convention refugees by IRCC.
    • Are a trader, investor, intra-company transferee, or a profession under NAFTA.

    Eligibility for Applying from Port of Entry (POE)

    Applicants can apply for a work permit for Canada at POE, if:

    • A visitor visa is not required for coming to Canada. And
    • Applying for an Open Work Permit
    • The required steps for the Employer-specific Work Permit must be completed by the employer.

    How to Get a Work Permit for Canada?

    Applicants for a work permit for Canada can apply online for the same. The details of the application process are detailed below:

    • Gather the Required Documents: Applicants must ensure that all the documents required are gathered before submitting the filling the application. This will ensure that the details or document copies are provided carefully with the application form.
    • Fill in the Application Form and Answer all the Questions: The application form has questions addressing the following details of the applicants:
      • Personal details
      • Language proficiency details
      • Passport details
      • Details of work in Canada
      • Education details
      • Previous work experience details, if any
    • Pay the Application and Related Fees: The applicants for a work permit for Canada are required to pay three separate fees. These are the application processing fee, work permit holder fees, and biometric fees. The details of the fees are as follows:
    Application Cost (in CAD)
    Work Permit (including an extension per person) 155
    Work Permit (including an extension for a group of performing artists) 465
    Open Work Permit holder 100

    Note: Applicants for an open work permit are required to pay the open work permit fees as well as work permit fees.

    Biometric Fees Cost (in CAD)
    Per person 85
    Family (2 or more) 170
    Group of performing artists 255
    • Submit the Application: Online applicants can submit their applications after completion of the application process with a single click. The offline applicants can submit the completed application package at VAC (Visa Application Center). India has around 10 VACs in the following cities:
    New Delhi Mumbai
    Pune  Banglore
    Kolkata Jalandhar
    Hyderabad Chandigarh 
    Chennai Ahmedabad

    Why Apply Online for a Work Permit for Canada?

    An online application for a work permit has several advantages. 

    • No mail delivery time and courier fees
    • Quick processing
    • Ensures that only a complete application is submitted
    • In case of additional document requirements, quick online submission is available.
    • Submission of the passport is not required.
    • Application details are sent to the online account used for the application.

    After you apply for a Work Permit for Canada

    Once the application for a work permit for Canada has been processed the applicants may be asked to attend an interview, send additional information and medical exam results. In case the application is incomplete, it is refused or returned.

    • For applicants who apply from outside Canada, if the applications are approved, a letter of approval is sent. This letter is not the work permit but is required to obtain a Canadian work visa on reaching Canada.
    • Applicants who apply for a work permit from within Canada are mailed the work permit at their Canadian address.
    • For applicants who apply at POE, the work permit is issued by the border services officer.

    Arriving in Canada

    Applicants are required to inform the BSO (Border Service Officer) about their arrival in Canada. The following procedure is followed after the arrival:

    • Applicants who enter at the 10 major Canadian airports: Fingerprints are checked at Primary Inspection Kiosk.
    • Applicants who enter at other Canadian airports: Fingerprints will be required if the applicant is referred to secondary inspection.

    After the applicant passes the identity check, the following entry requirements must be fulfilled:

    • Valid travel documents
    • Good health condition
    • No criminal or immigration-related convictions
    • Convince the immigration officer regarding the intent of return to the home country.
    • Proof of funds

    Applicants are required to submit the following presenting documents at the POE:

    • Letter of introduction: It is the visa confirmation letter. It should be accompanied by
      • Passport
      • Visa
      • Travel documents
    • Proof of meeting job requirements
    • Copy of employer positive LMIA
    • Offer of employment number sent to the employer on submitting an offer through the employer portal.

    Applicants must apply for SIN (Social Insurance Number) to avail or access government programs and benefits related to medical and health insurance. Applicants can apply for the same through Service Canada Office. The decisions regarding the work permits and the processing time depend on the number of applications received by the IRCC. 

    Work and Study in Canada

    International students are required to provide proof of available finances to cover the living expenses in Canada. They can also apply for work-study to supplement their spending allowances with part-time jobs available on-campus and off-campus.

    Work-study in Canada can help an international student immigrate to Canada after graduation. International students on a valid study permit can apply for on-campus/ off-campus part-time jobs without any work permit for Canada.

    It was reported by IRCC that around 332,000 international students were eligible for a work permit (on and off-campus work) in 2017. It was also reported that around 114,000 had a work permit under PGWP. The statistics from previous years suggest that a high number of international students apply for a Candian work permit, both while studying and post-study.