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You may not need a work permit to work temporarily in Canada.

 Temporary workers

 What you should know if you want to work in Canada 

  • Your employer may need to get a labour market impact assessment  (LMIA) to hire you. This is a document from the Government of Canada that gives your employer permission to hire a foreign worker.
  • Some jobs do not need an LMIA.
  • You must meet the requirements to:
    • enter the country,
    • stay in Canada and
    • get a work permit.

This means you may also need a visitor visa.

  • A work permit does not let you live in Canada permanently. To do so, you must qualify under an immigration category as a permanent resident.
  • Your spouse or common-law partner and your dependent children may apply to come to Canada with you.

Apply for a work permit

 You normally have to apply for a work permit from outside Canada. Sometimes, you can apply as you enter Canada or from inside Canada, but many of the requirements are the same.

How you apply and how long it will take to process your application will depend on the kind of work you will do when you come to Canada.

 If your spouse wants to work in Canada 

If you have a spouse or common-law partner who wants to work while in Canada, they must apply for their own work permit. Normally, they must meet the same rules as you do. This includes their employer getting a LMIA, if needed.

Your spouse or common-law partner may be able to apply for an “open” work permit. This is a permit that will let them accept any job with any employer if:

  1. You are
    • approved to work in Canada for six months or longer,
    • doing work in Canada that meets a minimum skill level (usually work for which you need at least a college diploma) and
    • doing a job at Skill Level 0, A or B in the National Occupational Classification.
    • Note: If you have a post-graduation work permit, your spouse must attach a copy of your work permit to their application for an open work permit, as well as a:
      • letter from your current employer that confirms you work there, or a copy of your employment offer or contract, and
      • copy of one of your pay slips.
  2. Or,
  3. You are approved to work in Canada and your spouse or common-law partner is eligible for a work permit through a pilot project.

In each case, your spouse’s permit will be valid no longer than yours.

 If your children want to work in Canada

Your dependent children may also apply for an open work permit in some provinces.

Live-in caregivers

Live-in caregivers are individuals who are qualified to provide care for children, elderly persons or persons with disabilities in private homes without supervision. Live-in caregivers may or may not live in the private home where they work in Canada.

Both the employer and the employee must follow several steps to meet the requirements of the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP).

Business people

Business people and business visitors are not the same.

Business people come to do business under a free trade agreement.

Business people can enter and work in Canada if they qualify under one of these agreements:

  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
  • Other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)
  • General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

NAFTA lets citizens of Canada, the United States and Mexico gain quick entry into each other’s countries for temporary business or investment reasons.

These people do not need a labour market impact assessment (LMIA). This means that Canadian employers do not need to have a job offer approved by Employment and Social Development Canada to hire an American or a Mexican business person.

There are four groups of business people under NAFTA:

  • business visitors
  • professionals
  • intra-company transferees
  • traders and investors

Business visitors

A business visitor is someone who comes to Canada to take part in international business activities without being part of the Canadian labour market. Business visitors usually stay in Canada for a few days or a few weeks but are able to stay for up to six months.

Business visitors do not need a work permit.


To work in Canada as a professional, you must:

  • be qualified to work in one of the jobs set out in NAFTA (for example, accountant, computer systems analyst or engineer),
  • have a job offer from a Canadian business in that field and
  • have a work permit.

Intra-company transferee

This is a person who is sent to work for the same company in a different country. If this is your case, you must:

  • have worked
    • on an ongoing basis,
    • for at least one year in the last three years,
    • for the same or a related employer in the United States or Mexico,
  • be transferred to Canada to work short term for the same or a related employer,
  • work as a manager, as an executive or in a job that uses specialized knowledge, and
  • have a work permit.

Traders and investors

To work in Canada as a trader or investor, you must:

  • be involved in planning, as a supervisor or executive, or in a role that involves essential skills,
    • a large amount of trade in goods or services, mainly between Canada and your home country, or
    • a large investment in Canada by you or your company,
  • meet any other rules of NAFTA and
  • have a work permit.

Other Free Trade Agreements

Other free trade agreements (FTAs), such as

  • the Canada-Chile FTA and
  • the Canada-Peru FTA,

are modelled on NAFTA to make it easier for business people from one country to enter another country for a short time.

The rules are similar to those under NAFTA and cover business people such as:

  • business visitors,
  • professionals,
  • intra-company transferees and
  • traders and investors.

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Under GATS, Canada agreed to make it easier for foreign business people to access the Canadian services market. This applies to service providers from more than 140 World Trade Organization member countries.

Three groups of business people are covered:

  • business visitors,
  • professionals and
  • intra-company transferees.

Qualified business people can enter Canada more easily because they do not need an LMO from the Government of Canada or, in the case of business visitors, a work permit.


It is possible to work in Canada, while you are here as a student, under any work programs for students. In most cases, you will need to apply for a student work permit.

Work on campus

If you are a full-time student and have a valid study permit, you can work on campus at the educational institution where you study. You can work on campus meaning within the boundaries of your educational institutions’ campus without a work permit. Your campus employer can be your institution, a private business or a private contractor providing services to your institution. You may also work for a faculty member as a research assistant, teaching assistant or graduate assistants and will be still considered as on campus employment.

Work off campus

You can also work off-campus while you study in Canada as long as you have a valid study permit and are enrolled in a designated learning institution (DLI) full time. The DLI should be a post-secondary academic, vocational, or professional training program. You may work off campus for maximum 20 hours per week during regular semester but during scheduled institution breaks like reading week, summer or winter holidays you may work full-time during such breaks.

Work as a co-op or intern

There are programs that will allow you to work as a co-op or intern as part of your academic program because your program has a work experience component. Students in such programs may be eligible for a work permit. You must provide a letter from your DLI that states the the work is a component of your academic program and it must be completed in order for the you to receive your degree, diploma, or certificate.

Stay in Canada after graduation

The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP) is available for students who before graduation hold a valid study permit from a DLI and are about to the graduate from a post-secondary institution. You may apply for the PGWP which is an open work permit ( not job-specific nor does it require a LMIA).

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