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Can I work in Canada without a work permit?

If you want to work in Canada, chances are you need a work permit! But, in a few cases it is possible to work in Canada without holding a work permit. We’ve put together a list of the cases where a work permit is not required.

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What is a work permit?

A work permit is a legal document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This document gives its holder the permission to work and receive compensation from a Canadian employer. Working in Canada without the proper authorization can have serious consequences. If you are discovered to have violated the terms of your status in Canada, it can jeopardize all future Canadian immigration applications.

Working without a work permit

In certain rare situations a person may work in Canada without a work permit. Usually, these positions are for short-term employment in specific areas. For example, an emergency service provider who needs to enter Canada briefly to provide support in an emergency situation, or a musician who is entering Canada for a single performance.

The following types of jobs may not require a work permit for foreign nationals to engage in Canadian employment. It should be noted that just because a job is on this list it does not mean that a person will be eligible for a work permit exemption. In order to qualify for a work permit exemption, a person’s job must be on this list and they must meet the additional exemption criteria for their specific job as outlined on the International Mobility Program webpage.

  • Athlete or coach
  • Aviation accident or incident investigator
  • Business visitor
  • Civil aviation inspector
  • Clergy
  • Convention organizer
  • Crew member
  • Emergency service provider
  • Examiner and evaluator
  • Expert witness or investigator
  • Family member of foreign representative
  • Foreign government officer or representative
  • Health care student
  • Judge, referee or similar official
  • Military personnel
  • News reporter or film and media crew
  • Producer or staff member working on advertisements
  • Performing artist
  • Public speaker
  • Short-term highly-skilled worker
  • Short-term researcher
  • Student working off-campus
  • Student working on-campus

If a foreign national is employed in one of the positions or scenarios listed above, they may be eligible for a work permit exemption!

What if my job isn’t on the list?

If your job isn’t on the list, there are still options! This just means you have to follow the proper procedure for obtaining a Canadian work permit. There are a few different types of work permits.

Post-Graduation Work Permit: This is for recent graduates of a Canadian educational institution.

Accompanying Spouse – Work Permit: If you are accompanying your spouse while they study in Canada or work in Canada, or if your spouse is sponsoring you for Canadian permanent residency, then you might be eligible to apply for the open work permit for accompanying spouses.

Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Work Permit: If you have a job offer from a Canadian employer you might be eligible to apply for a work permit. But! In most cases, first your employer has to obtain a document called an LMIA, proving that they were unable to find a Canadian to fill the position.

LMIA-Exempt Work Permit: Sometimes, if you have a job offer from a Canadian employer, you can apply for a work permit without an LMIA. This is an LMIA-exempt work permit. Usually LMIA-exemptions pertain to international trade agreements or to facilitate the hiring of very high-skilled workers.

To find out if you’re eligible for Canadian immigration, simply complete our free online assessment and one of our legal experts will contact you to discuss your options!

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The Canadim Team!


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