Temporary Status


A foreign national in Canada may be authorized to work without a work permit or may be authorized to work by the issuance of a work permit. Immigration Rules define Work as an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.

Requirements: how to obtain a work permit?

You must demonstrate that you meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Regulations and that you will be in Canada for a temporary stay. You must also:

  • satisfy an officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your employment,
  • show that you have enough money during your stay in Canada to take care of yourself and your family members and to return home,
  • be law-abiding and have no record of criminal activity (you may be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate),
  • not be a danger to the security of Canada,
  • be in good health and complete a medical examination, if required,
  • not intend to engage in employment with an employer on the List of Ineligible Employers,
  • not have worked in Canada for one or more periods totalling four years after April 1, 2011 (with certain exceptions),
  • provide any additional documents requested by the officer to establish your admissibility.

Cumulative duration

Please note that this rule has been repealed: see New Rules for Temporary Foreign Workers

Starting on April 1, 2011, you will be able to work in Canada for a maximum period of four years. Therefore, you will need to start counting the time you work in Canada as of April 1, 2011. However, there are some exceptions to this rule if:

  • the work you intend to do in Canada creates or maintains significant social, cultural or economic benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents,
  • the work you intend to do in Canada relates to an international agreement between Canada and one or more countries (including seasonal agricultural workers),
  • your work is done while you are authorized to study,
  • 48 months have passed since you accumulated 4 years of work in Canada.

If you do not work during the entire specified period on your work permit (for example you have a work permit valid for four years and you are sick or you leave temporarily Canada), you may need to submit proof of time not worked when you apply for another work permit later on and you are close to the four-year maximum. Examples of proof documents include but are not limited to:

  • passport entry and exit stamps,
  • Record of Employment from Service Canada,
  • receipt of severance pay,
  • letter from a foreign educational institution where you attended school,
  • travel receipts (tickets, boarding passes),
  • proof of receipt of maternity/parental benefits,
  • letter from physician confirming you were on medical leave,
  • any other document that demonstrates that you were not working in Canada while on a work permit.

Labour Market Impact Assessment

A Labour Market Opinion Assessment (LMIA) is the opinion provided by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) to the officer which enables the officer to determine whether the employment of the foreign worker is likely to have a positive or negative impact on the labour market in Canada. An LMIA may be required in order for a work permit to be issued.

The LMIA process begins by the prospective employer submitting an LMIA application to the HRSDC. The HRSDC will consider several factors, including the availability of Canadians and the offered wages as well as the economic benefit the foreign worker would bring to Canada. HRSDC will then provide its opinion to the IRCC.

The LMIA is typically given for a specific period of time, and the work permit issued will coincide with that period. Renewal of a work permit beyond the specified period will likely require a new LMIA.

Effective April 1, 2011, HRSDC/SC will add the following evaluations to the LMIA process:

  • assessment of the genuineness of the offer of employment and
    whether or not, over the past two years, employers who have hired foreign workers, provided wages, working conditions and employment in an occupation that were substantially the same as those listed in the offer of employment.

Work without a Work Permit

You may not need a work permit if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • R186(a)—Business visitor
  • R186(b)—Foreign representatives
  • R186(c)—Family members of foreign representatives
  • R186(d)—Military personnel
  • R186(e)—Foreign government officers
  • R186(f)—On-campus employment
  • R186(g)—Performing artists
  • R186(h)—Athletes and coaches
  • R186(i)—News reporters, media crews
  • R186(j)—Public speakers
  • R186(k)—Convention organizers
  • R186(l)—Clergy
  • R186(m)—Judges, referees and similar officials
  • R186(n)—Examiners and evaluators
  • R186(o)—Expert witnesses or investigators
  • R186(p)—Health care students
  • R186(q)—Civil aviation inspector
  • R186(r)—Aviation accident or incident inspector
  • R186(s)—Crew
  • R186(t)—Emergency service providers
  • R186(u)—Implied status

For all other types of work, you must apply for a work permit which either requires LMIA (R203) or is LMIA exempt (R204, R205, R206, and R207).

For further information or questions regarding Work Permits, LMIA and Arranged Employment Opinions, please feel free to contact our office. If you would like to know whether you could be eligible to immigrate to Canada, we invite you to complete our online assessment questionnaire: On-line Assessment Questionnaire.

Last updated: 18.06.2016