Almost all foreign workers planning to work in Canada have to obtain a temporary work permit. Canada will allow the foreign skilled worker to work in Canada during the period for which the work permit is valid. Work permits can be issued as either open or employer-focused. For example, accompanying spouses or common-law partners of students and skilled workers with relevant and valid temporary permits might be eligible to apply for the open work permit.

An open work permit means that the permit holder can work for any employer, and employer-focused permit means the holder can only work for the employer indicated on the temporary work permit. Canada has many different types of work permits and many exemptions to the temporary work permit requirement.

When You Don’t Need a Work Permit

Some foreigners, such as business visitors and other specific workers may be allowed to enter Canada without a temporary work permit. In addition to jobs that do not require a work permit are clergy, researchers, crew members in the transportation industry, expert witnesses, performing artists, news reporters, film crews, and athletes and their coaches. Check out the full list of the jobs that don’t need a work permit here.

If you come to Canada as a full-time international student on a valid student permit, you don’t need a work permit to start working on-campus.

In the same way, business visitors who are not intending to enter the Canadian labor market are not required to have a work permit. There are certain conditions under which business visitors don’t need a work permit:

The purchase of Canadian services or products on behalf of a government or business;
Processing orders for the purchase of Canadian products and services;
The attending of conferences, conventions, business meetings or trade fairs;
The promotion of an after-sales service agreement;
Receiving training from a Canadian branch of a foreign parent company outside of Canada;
Employee workshops organized by the Canadian branch of a foreign parent company;
On-site training from a Canadian business from which you have purchased products or services.

It is important to remember that to be eligible to work in Canada without a work permit is rather a big exception from the rule and in most cases, foreign nationals have to apply for a work permit. To find out whether you qualify for a work permit exemption, create your application here.

Immigrating to Canada without an LMIA-based job offer


The Express Entry System is an online system that awards points to candidates based on their age, education, work experience, and other factors. You need to open a profile in the Express Entry and get at least 67 points in the Federal Skilled Program (FSW). Each candidate receives a CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System) score, and the IRCC selects eligible candidates every two weeks.

Important: jobs that don’t need an LMIA still are required to have a work permit.