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Work Permits in Canada - The Basic Rules


For the majority of cases, the work permit will be necessary in order to work in Canada.

Some exemptions exist in specific circumstances such as for part-time volunteers. Business visitors, commercial buyers, some artists and freelancers will be exempt from obtaining a work permit under certain conditions.

Another rule will consist of obtaining a confirmation from Human Resource and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) from the Canadian employer before offering a job to a foreign national. Again, there are exemptions in certain specific cases such as the entrepreneurs, students, etc.

Certain foreign nationals will therefore be exempt of obtaining a work permit or a confirmation from HRSDC or both requirements based on their occupation and purpose of their visit in Canada. However, as indicated earlier, the majority of the foreign nationals will need a work permit and a confirmation from HRSDC prior to engaging in any work in Canada.


According to the Canadian regulations, work is considered as an activity for which income such as wages or commission is earned or it is work that competes directly with the activities of Canadian citizens of permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.

For example, will not be considered work, volunteers performing part-time activities, parents or visitors taking care of children or assisting in a child building or renovating a house during their stay, etc. and as long as they are not receiving any income for their assistance.

Where to submit your application for a work permit?

The application is usually submitted in the country of residence. In certain cases, the application can be submitted upon entering Canada or within Canada.

Other issues to consider

- Working in the Province of Quebec: for any work requiring a confirmation from HRSDC, the foreign worker must apply for the Quebec Certificate of acceptation.
- A medical exam will be required for some professionals working directly with the public, such as the health professionals, the primary and secondary school teachers, home caregivers, caregivers for the elderly, etc.

Submitting an application

Documentary evidence will consist of the application form, the written job offer signed by the employer. Evidence concerning the identity, education, work experience will also be required. Intent of a temporary stay will be crucial in the positive decision-making. An interview may be required to assess this factor and other credibility issues.

Our firm represents the applicant for a work permit or the employer that wishes to offer a job to a foreign national.

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