Foreign nationals whom are citizens of certain countries and territories (e.g. China, India, etc.) require a temporary resident visa (“TRV” or “visitor visa”) to lawfully visit or transit through Canada. If a foreign national requires a TRV to enter Canada, he/she will be required to apply for same at a visa office abroad before travelling to Canada.
A foreign national may be eligible for admission to Canada as a “business visitor” if they are genuinely seeking entry to Canada for a short period of time to undertake permissible business visitor activities. If a foreign national is eligible for admission to Canada as a business visitor, they do not require a Canadian work permit for the purpose of their visit to Canada.
If a foreign national intends to undertake any activities in Canada which are considered to be “work” according to Canadian immigration law, they will be required to obtain a Canadian work permit authorizing them to undertake such work in Canada (unless one of few limited exceptions apply). Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program consists of two programs, namely:
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program includes streams which require an employer to obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) confirmation from Employment and Social Development Canada (“Service Canada”) before a foreign national can apply for a Canadian work permit.
Unless a foreign national is eligible for an LMIA-exempt Canadian work permit, his/her employer or prospective employer will be required to submit an application for an LMIA to Service Canada seeking authorization to employ the foreign national in Canada before he/she will be eligible to apply for a Canadian work permit either at a Canadian port-of-entry or a visa office abroad. Further or in the alternative, an employer or prospective employer may apply for an LMIA to support a foreign national’s application for Canadian permanent residence.
If a foreign national is destined to work in the province of Québec and, unless he/she is eligible for an LMIA-exempt Canadian work permit, the foreign national will be required to submit an application for a Certificat d'acceptation du Québec ("CAQ") to the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l'Inclusion ("MIDI"). The CAQ will be required before he/she will be eligible to apply for a Canadian work permit either at a Canadian port-of-entry or a visa office abroad.
The International Mobility Program (“IMP”) includes streams which do not require an employer to submit an LMIA application before a foreign national can apply for a Canadian work permit, such as the following:
If a foreign national has been working on a full-time and continuous basis with an affiliated company abroad for at least one year in the three years immediately preceding their application for a Canadian work permit, they are currently employed as an executive, senior manager, functional manager, or have specialized knowledge, and will be assuming a similar position in Canada, they may be eligible for an initial Canadian work permit valid for up to three years on the basis that they are an intra-company transferee.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) is a trilateral reciprocal agreement between Canada, the United States of America, and Mexico which facilitates trade between these particular countries. Business visitors, certain professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors whom are citizens of the United States of America and/or Mexico may be eligible for admission to Canada or eligible for a Canadian work permit valid for an initial period of up to three years under NAFTA.
Canada has also entered into bilateral Free Trade Agreements (“FTAs”) with numerous other countries which facilitate trade between Canada and these particular countries (e.g. the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement).
Canada is a signatory to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (“GATS”) which facilitates trade between more than 140 member counties. Business visitors, certain professionals, and intra-company transferees whom are citizens of at least one of the member countries may be eligible for admission to Canada or eligible for a Canadian work permit valid for an initial period of up to 90 days under GATS.
If a foreign national’s physical presence in Canada will result in a significant cultural, social, and/or economic benefit to Canada, he/she may be eligible for a Canadian work permit. This is a highly discretionary and subjective type of application.
If a foreign national intends to study in Canada, they will be required to obtain a Canadian study permit (unless one of few limited exceptions apply). If a foreign national has been invited to enrol in a course/program of study at a “designated learning institution” in Canada, he/she may be eligible for a Canadian study permit.
If a foreign national holds a valid Canadian study permit and they are enrolled as a “full-time” student at a “designated learning institution” in Canada, he/she may be eligible for a Canadian work permit authorizing them to work off campus while they are completing their studies.
If a foreign national has graduated from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution after completing “full time” studies in an academic program lasting at least eight months, he/she may be eligible for a post-graduate work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation (e.g. a transcript, official letter, etc.) from the institution indicating that he/she has completed all requirements of the program.
Spouses or common law partners of “skilled workers” whom hold a Canadian work permit valid for a period of at least six months may be eligible for an “open” Canadian work permit valid for a term concurrent with their spouse’s or common law partner’s Canadian work permit. If a spouse or common law partner is issued an “open” Canadian work permit, he/she will be authorized to work for any employer in any occupation (subject to some limited exceptions) and in any province or territory in Canada.