Temporary Work Permits for Foreign Workers in Canada

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Introduction to Temporary Work Permits for Foreign Workers in Canada

Every year more than 90,000 foreign temporary workers enter Canada to work in a wide range of occupations and industries across the country. Foreign temporary workers need a job offer from a Canadian employer and in most cases a temporary work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to be allowed to enter Canada to work.

A temporary work permit is written authorization to work in Canada from Citizenship and Immigration Canada for a person who is not a Canadian citizen or a Canadian permanent resident. It is usually valid for a specific job and a specific length of time.

In addition, some foreign workers require a temporary resident visa to enter Canada. If you need a temporary resident visa, you do not need to make a separate application - it will be issued at the same time as the documentation necessary for you to enter Canada as a temporary worker.

Your prospective employer will likely need to get a labor market opinion from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRDSC) to confirm that the job can be filled by a foreign worker.

In order for your spouse or common-law partner and dependent children to accompany you to Canada, they must also apply for permission. They don't need to complete separate applications, however. The names and relevant information for immediate family members can be included on your application for a temporary work permit.

The process and documents required to work temporarily in the province of Quebec are different, so check the Ministère de l’Immigration et des Communautés culturally for details.

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Who Needs a Temporary Work Permit for Canada

When a Temporary Work Permit for Canada is Required

Anyone who is not a Canadian citizen or a Canadian permanent resident who wants to work in Canada must be authorized. Usually, that means getting a temporary work permit for Canada.

When a Temporary Work Permit for Canada is Not Required

Some temporary workers do not need a temporary work permit for Canada. Categories of workers exempted from needing a temporary work permit include diplomats, foreign athletes, clergy and expert witnesses. These exemptions may change at any time, so please check with the visa office responsible for your area to confirm that you are exempt from a temporary work permit.

Special Procedures for Temporary Work Permits

Some job categories in Canada have streamlined procedures for applying for a temporary work permit or have different requirements.

The process and documents required to work temporarily in the province of Quebec are different, so check the Ministère de l’Immigration et des Communautés culturally for details.

Eligibility to Apply as You Enter Canada

You can apply for a temporary work permit as you enter Canada if you meet the following requirements:

  • you are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, Greenland or Saint-Pierre et Miquelon
  • you do not need a medical exam
  • you do not need a temporary resident visa to visit Canada
  • your job does not need a labor market opinion from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) or you have a labor market opinion from HRSDC.
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Requirements for a Temporary Work Permit for Canada

When you apply for a temporary work permit for Canada, you must satisfy the visa officer who reviews your application that you

  • will leave Canada at the end of your work permit
  • have enough money to support yourself and family members while you are in Canada, and enough to return home
  • do not intend to work in Canada unless authorized
  • will be law abiding
  • have no record of criminal activity (a Police Certificate may be required)
  • are not a risk to the security of Canada
  • are in good health (a medical exam may be required)
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Documents Required to Apply for a Temporary Work Permit for Canada

In general, the following documents are required to apply for a temporary work permit for Canada. Check the information provided in the application kit carefully for details and in case there are other documents required for your specific circumstances. There may also be additional local requirements, so contact your local visa office to verify that you have all the required documents before submitting your application for a temporary work permit.

  • Proof of Identity - a valid passport or travel document for you and each family member accompanying you. If the country that issued your passport requires a re-entry permit, you must have one before you apply for a temporary work permit for Canada. Citizens and permanent residents of the United States, Saint-Pierre, and Miquelon, and Greenland do not need passports but do need proof of status and citizenship. You must also supply two recent passport-size photos.
  • Proof of Employment in Canada - a written job offer or contract from your prospective employer
  • Proof of Qualifications - proof that you meet the requirements of the job, including educational requirements and work experience
  • HRDSC Confirmation - if required for your job, your prospective employer must get a labor market opinion and confirmation from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada(HRDSC) and provide you with the file identifier number
  • Quebec Certificate of Acceptance (CAQ) - required if you are planning to work temporarily in the province of Quebec. Check the Ministère de l’Immigration et des Communautés culturally site for details.
  • Immigration Status in Country of Application - if you are not a citizen of the country in which you are applying, you must provide proof of your current immigration status.

You must also produce any additional documents requested.

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How to Apply for a Temporary Work Permit for Canada

To apply for a temporary work permit for Canada:

  • Download the temporary work permit application kit and guide (in PDF). You can also contact the Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate responsible for your area to have a temporary work permit application kit mailed to you.
  • Read the guide carefully. Processing fees for temporary work permit applications are not refundable, so be sure you are eligible for a temporary work permit and can meet the requirements before you apply.
  • Complete the form and attach the required documents. If you don't follow all the instructions or don't provide the necessary documents, your application could be returned to you or delayed. Sign and date your application. Double check that you have completed the application fully and that you have enclosed all the required documents. Make a copy of your application for your own records.
  • Pay the fee and get an official receipt. Check with your local visa office on fees and how to pay them.
  • Submit your application. For details on accepted methods of submitting your application, consult the visa office responsible for your area.
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Processing Times for Applications for Temporary Work Permits for Canada

Processing times vary greatly depending on the visa office responsible for processing your temporary work permit application. The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada maintains statistical information on processing times to give you an idea of how long applications at different visa offices have taken in the past to use as a general guideline.​

Citizens of certain countries may need to complete additional formalities which could add several weeks or longer to the normal processing time. You will be advised if these requirements apply to you.

If you require a medical exam, it could add several months to the application processing time. While generally no medical exam is required if you plan to stay in Canada for less than six months, it does depend on the type of job you will have and where you have lived for the past year. A medical exam and a satisfactory medical assessment will be required if you wish to work in health services, child care, or primary or secondary education. If you want to work in agricultural occupations, a medical exam will be required if you have lived in certain countries.

If you require a medical exam, a Canadian immigration officer will tell you and send you instructions.

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Approval or Refusal of Application for a Temporary Work Permit for Canada

After reviewing your application for a temporary work permit for Canada, a visa officer may decide that an interview with you is required. If so, you will be notified of the time and place.

You may also be asked to send more information.

If you require a medical exam, a Canadian immigration officer will tell you and send you instructions. This could add several months to the application processing time.

If Your Application for a Temporary Work Permit is Approved

If your application for a temporary work permit is approved, you will be sent a letter of authorization. Bring this letter of authorization with you to show to immigration officials when you enter Canada.

The letter of authorization is not a work permit. When you arrive in Canada, you will still have to satisfy a Canada Border Services Agency officer that you are eligible to enter Canada and will leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay. At that time you will be issued a work permit.

If you are from a country which requires a temporary resident visa, a temporary resident visa will be issued to you. The temporary resident visa is an official document placed in your passport. The expiry date on the temporary resident visa is the day by which you must enter Canada.

If Your Application for a Temporary Work Permit is Turned Down

If your application for a temporary work permit is turned down, you will be informed in writing and your passport and documents will be returned to you unless the documents are fraudulent.

You will also be given an explanation of why your application was refused. If you have questions about the refusal of your application, contact the visa office which issued the refusal letter.

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Entering Canada as a Temporary Worker

When you arrive in Canada a Canada Border Services Agency officer will ask to see your passport and travel documents and ask you questions. Even if your application for a temporary work permit for Canada was approved, you must satisfy the officer that you are eligible to enter Canada and will leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay.

Documents Required to Enter Canada

Have the following documents ready to show the Canada Border Services Agency officer:

  • valid passport or travel document (citizens and permanent residents of the United States, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, and Greenland must provide proof of citizenship or permanent residence
  • temporary resident visa (if required)
  • your letter of offer of employment or employment contract
  • the letter of authorization confirming approval of your application for a temporary work permit for Canada
  • other documents recommended by the visa office where you applied

Your Temporary Work Permit for Canada

If you are allowed to enter Canada, the officer will issue your temporary work permit. Check the temporary work permit to make sure the information is accurate. The temporary work permit will set out conditions of your stay and work in Canada and may include:

  • the type of work you can do
  • the employer you can work for
  • where you can work
  • the length of time you can work in Canada

Making Changes to Your Temporary Work Permit

If at any time your circumstances change or you wish to change any of the terms and conditions on your temporary work permit for Canada, you must complete and submit an Application to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada as a Worker.

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Contact Information for Temporary Work Permits for Canada

Please check with the visa office for your region for any specific local requirements, for additional information or if you have any questions about your application for a temporary work permit for Canada.