Work Visa

Most foreign nationals who wish to work in Canada will require a job offer from an employer in Canada. In addition, many foreign nationals will also require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in support of their work permit application. 

Work permits may be issued under two umbrella programs:

  1. Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
  2. International Mobility Program.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is an employer driven process, whereby a Canadian employer must apply for a LMIA.

Under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, an employer must typically advertise the position that they wish to fill with a foreign national for at least 4 weeks before filing the LMIA application. By advertising the position for at least 4 weeks, the Canadian employer must demonstrate that there are no qualified Canadians or permanent residents who are able to take the position.

If a positive LMIA is issued, the foreign national can then apply for their work permit. 


International Mobility Program

The International Mobility Program encompasses all LMIA exempt work permits, and includes work permits issued under NAFTA, the Mobilit√© Francophone program, and intra-company transferees. 

Under the International Mobility Program, depending on the work permit being requested, an employer may need to complete an Offer of Employment (Employer Compliance) application online, providing commitments regarding the occupation, wages and working conditions being offered to the foreign national.

The International Mobility Program also includes open work permits such as those issued to spouses accompanying a temporary foreign worker in Canada, post-graduate work permits and bridging open work permits.


Open Work Permits

An open work permit authorizes foreign nationals to work in any occupation, in any position, and in any region, with limited exceptions. 

There are some options available to foreign nationals where a job offer and a LMIA will not be required, and the most common open work permits include:

  • – Post-graduate work permit;
  • – Working holiday work permit (under the International Experience Canada program);
  • – Bridging open work permit; and
  • – Open Spousal work permit.