How to Apply for A Canadian Work Permit

Canadian Work Permit
Illustrative picture of work permit application form

The Canadian Work Permit is a legal document that allows a foreign national to work in Canada. It is unlike a visa that grants entry to or exit from a country.

Many foreign nationals seeking employment in Canada are applicants for work permits. A few are able to have theirs approved while others are not so fortunate. The absence of adequate information may be the reason many people are rejected.

This article seeks to give insight and walk you through the process of applying for a work permit in Canada. Some of your pressing questions may be answered here. So, let’s delve into the matter.

Types of Canadian Work Permits

What is the kind of job you do? What is your reason for planning to come to Canada? Your answers are determinants of the kind of work permit you will apply for. With this in mind, there are two major work permits in Canada: the closed work permit and the open work permit.

Closed work permit: This permit is for foreign nationals or skilled workers. It is for those who are planning to work for a certain Canadian employer. Religious organizations are employers of workers who apply for closed work permits.

Open work permit: This permit is for foreign nationals. It is for those who want to work for any Canadian employer (legitimate). They are not limited to one employer during their stay in Canada.

Who is eligible for a Work Permit in Canada?

Before you apply for a Canadian work permit you need to have a job offer. This job offer should be backed by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This is a document that assesses the impact of employing a foreign national in Canada. It can be positive or negative.

Positive means that there is no permanent resident or citizen of Canada available. This gives an employer the green light to hire a foreign national. Negative means that a permanent resident or Canadian citizen should fill that position.

Your employer is the party that applies for this document and not you. All you need is the results of the assessment.

A successful LMIA is what makes you eligible for a work permit in Canada.

Documents Required to Apply for a Canadian Work Permit

The type of work permit you are applying for determines the documents you need when applying. Generally, you may be required to provide these documents as part of your application;

  • Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
  • Completely filled work permit application forms
  • Proof of your status in Canada (if it applies to you)
  • Proof of your family’s status in Canada (if it applies to them)
  • A Marriage certificate (if you are married)
  • A genuine copy of your passport
  • A clear copy of your credentials (education-wise)
  • A written employment offer from a legitimate employer
  • CV or résumé
  • Proof that you meet the qualification for the job offered by your potential employer
  • Results of your medical exams (if it is required of you)
  • Evidence of your financial capability to stay in Canada and to return to your home country.
  • Proof that you have paid all applicable government fees
  • Your most recent passport-sized photos
  • Proof that you do not have any criminal record

How to Give Your Biometrics

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has measures. These measures exempt applicants applying for a work permit inside Canada. Those outside of Canada still needs to provide their biometrics. But they can only do this when they receive a biometrics instruction letter. The letter will come after the LMIA is approved.

The following are the instructions on how to submit your biometrics;

  • Pay your biometric fees
  • You will get an instruction letter stating that you need to submit your biometrics. It will also tell you where you can go to submit it.
  • Come along with your passport and instruction letter when submitting your biometrics.
  • You need to submit your biometrics in person. Thus, visit an official biometric collection site and book an appointment. Do this as soon as you get your biometric instruction letter.
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Police Clearances for Your Canadian Work Permit

A visa officer will review your work permit application. They will likely ask you to hand in your police clearance certificates. This document may be a part of the things you have listed to do in your application. Though, in this case, you have to provide it with your first submission of documents.

Those applying for a work permit are required to provide a police clearance certificate. It will come from whatever country they have lived in for 6 months or more. This also applies to those who are above the age of 18.

Medical Examinations for Your Canadian Work Permit

Most foreign nationals that apply to work in Canada may likely need to take a medical exam. This depends on how long they intend to stay. The places they have lived and the kind of job they are planning to do in Canada are also important. 

If you plan on working in Canada for less than half a year, you may not need a medical exam. If you plan on working in a job that brings you into close contact with people, you will need a medical exam. If you are engaged in Agriculture elsewhere, you may need a medical exam.

If you intend to work in Canada for longer than 6 months, you may need to take a medical exam. To know if you do, one of these conditions must apply to you:

  • Canada has a medical exam eligibility page for 6-months or longer. Check the countries listed there. Look for the country you have lived in for up to 6 months. If a ‘YES’ is placed in a column beside the chosen country’s name, you need the exam. The site also mentions where the medical office you can reach out to is located.
  • If you intend to work in a field where you will be in close contact with people. Fields such as health care work, lab work, and child care are examples. 

Medical exams must be done with a panel physician. This physician is provided by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Even though the physician is the examiner, they do not make the final decision. The government of Canada does the decision making. You can find a panel physician near you and perform the exam.

As an applicant, you have the choice to take your medical exam beforehand. You will have to contact a panel physician. They will examine you before you submit your work permit application.

Some people may fail to bring in their medical exam results with their application. If that is your case, the IRCC officer will give you instructions on how to take the medical exam. They will also give you a deadline for when you should be done with it.

When going for your medical exam appointment, bring the following;

  •  Your international passport or national identification card
  • Your glasses or contact lenses (if you use them)
  • Test results or medical reports about any existing medical concerns
  • Your medications (if you are on them)
  • 4 recent passport photographs (in the case where the panel physician does not use e-medical)
  • Money for the payment of fees for the physician/radiologist. You may run other special tests and other specialists you may be needed. These fees are non-refundable.
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How to Include Your Family in Your Work Permit Application.

If you plan on bringing your family along with you to Canada, they will also need to apply to visit, work or study. Often (if your spouse is willing to work), they will be allowed to apply to work for any employer. If they aren’t eligible, they will then be required to take the LMIA. It is very possible to come to Canada on the basis of work along with your family.

What Kind of Jobs Am I Allowed to Do With a Canadian Work Permit?

Your work permit marks out your restrictions for work in Canada. These restrictions are determined by the kind of work permit you are eligible for. The conditions can include the kind of work you can engage in and where you can work.

It can also mention whom you can work for, and the duration of time you can work in Canada. Every work permit holder is not allowed to work at a business where sex is sold.

How Long Will It Take to Process My Canadian Work Permit and LMIA Application?

The time taken to process a work permit application depends on the kind of work permit. It also depends on your country of residence as at the time you applied. The time ranges from a few weeks to many months.

LMIA applications are processed based on the situation of the applicant. The times for processing vary from one applicant to the other. It takes about five months before one can receive a reply to their LMIA application.

Find out if your employer is eligible for the Global Talent Stream in Canada. They can help speed up your LMIA processing time.

What is the Success Rate of Work Permit Application and LMIA?

It is not possible to give the success rate of a work permit and LMIA applications. Every application is processed according to its case. If you meet the set down requirements, your application will be approved.

Yet, all applications are checked by individual officers. These officers make their decision. It will base on what seems best when making a choice on whether to approve a work permit application.

What Causes a Work Permit Application to Be refused?

It is quite painful when a work permit is refused. If your application is refused, there are reasons why. You may likely be unclear about why your application was refused. All you need to do is apply for Global Case Management System (GCMS) notes.

It is a system used by IRCC to process immigration and citizenship application. It can help you to better understand and help allay the officer’s concerns if you choose to apply again.

Here are a few recurring reasons work permits are refused:

  • One was not able to convince the officer that they could do the work they intended to do.
  • One does not prove that they will leave the country on their own when their authorized stay is over.
  • They do not meet the qualifications for the work permit they applied for.

How to Activate Your Canadian Work Permit

Activating your work permit depends on where you are applying from and the method you make use of.

Activating Your Work Permit From Outside Canada

If your application has been approved after applying from abroad, congratulations. You will get a letter with a set of instructions. They will guide you on how to get your physical work permit at the Canadian port. You will need to present this letter and other important documents at a Canadian port of entry.

If you applied for yours online, the letter with the instructions will show up on your account online. If you applied using paper, your letter of instructions will be sent to your mailing address.

Activate Your Work Permit Upon Applying at the Port of Entry

Some applicants may be allowed to apply for their work permit at the port of entry (POE) to Canada. Such applicants are usually from a visa-exempt country. You may plan on applying for a work permit at the border. Make sure you bring documents that back your eligibility. If it is approved, the officer at the port may print your work permit immediately at the border.

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You can make use of this work permit immediately. This method is the fastest way to get your application to the IRCC to be processed. This is because a Canadian Border Services Officer will review your case in a few minutes. You will be on your way in no time if it is approved.


It is important to note that a work permit is a very important document and should be treated as such. Fill in all the information required of you with your full attention. If your application is not approved, try again next time, and do not give up. If your application is approved, good luck in your exploits in Canada.

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