Information on COVID-19 and Immigration to Canada


Temporary Work Permit


 Almost all foreign workers planning to work in Canada have to obtain a temporary work permit. However, there are categories which allow work permit exemptions.

 In general, a temporary work permit will allow the foreign skilled worker to work in Canada during the period for which the work permit is valid. To obtain the work permit, an applicant first must secure a job offer together with a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This is especially true if foreigners seek to apply for a Temporary Foreign Worker Program. However, depending on which country a foreigner is from, the employer offering a job for that foreigner can be exempt from an LMIA.

 There are different types of work permits. For example, work permits can be issued as either open or employer-focused. 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.

 While there are many exemptions to the temporary work permit requirement, it is important to remember that eligibility 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.


Work in Canada Without 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 clergies, researchers, crew members in the transportation industry, expert witnesses, performing artists, news reporters, film crews, and athletes and their coaches. 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, but they should meet certain requirements.


Business Visitors: Work Permit Exemptions


 This category is for individuals who engage in business or trade activities in Canada, but they do not intend to enter the Canadian labor market. There are a number of subcategories and yet all entrepreneurs must meet the general criteria. These are evidence that they run their business internationally.

 Business visitors in Canada working for a foreign employer must ensure that their primary source of compensation is outside of Canada. Similarly, their main place of work must also be outside of Canada. The immigration officer will ask for all the documents that can prove their status in Canada.

 Business visitors are divided into the following sub-categories:


After Sales Service: Work Permit Exemptions

 Equipment maintenance staff, trainers and foreign workers, providing after-sales services can come to Canada. The service must include repair and installing services or testing commercial and industrial services. Whatever a reason for after-sales service, it should be stipulated by the contract.


Board of Directors: Work Permit Exemptions

 A board of directors planning to come to Canada to attend a meeting can enter Canada as business visitors.


Workers of Short-Term Temporary Residents

 This subcategory includes domestic servants such as caregivers and personal assistants. However, they are allowed to work for only six months. Temporary work permit exemptions don’t apply to foreigners who want to work for a longer period in Canada. In this case, they will have to apply for a work permit and an LMIA.


Foreign Companies Contracting Canadian Companies

 In the situation, when a foreign company enters into a contract with a Canadian company, it might send its employees to supervise the work being done in Canada. Such foreign workers can come as business visitors and stay in Canada for almost two years. However, they must continue working for a foreign employer and their primary source of compensation must be outside of Canada. Similarly, their main place of work must also be outside of Canada.


Foreign Representatives and their Family Members

 International representatives, as well as their personal staff and family members, may work in Canada without a work permit. Foreign representatives accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and Diplomatic representatives to United Nations offices in Canada fall under the work permit exemptions. This also includes their staff and family members.


Military Personnel

 Military and civilian personnel in Canada under the authority of the Visiting Forces Act may enter the country without work permits. Work permit exemptions also cover their families.


Foreign Government Officers

 Canada has agreements with other countries that seek an international exchange of government employees. So individuals that come to Canada to work in the government or provincial department without a work permit. These individuals have nothing to do with a foreign mission organization or the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).

 Officers working in this category as executives need a contract from Canada’s Public Service Commission (PSC). Officers that do not hold an executive position do not need a contract. Their family members normally get an open work permit under the work permit exemptions


American Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Officers

 Individuals working on both sides of the US/Canada border, under the work permit exemptions, do not require a work permit.


In-flight Security Officers: Work Permit Exemptions

 The security officers under auspices of the foreign government on foreign aircraft may work in Canada without a work permit. However, IFSOs from countries that require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) must obtain this visa to carry their duties on aircraft.


On-Campus Employment: Work Permit Exemptions

 Full-time students with a valid student permit can work on-campus of their college or university without a work permit.  They are allowed to work as long as their study permit is valid. Work permit exemptions also cover foreign students who engage in research or work as teaching assistants off-campus as part of the research grant they have received.


Performing Artists: Work Permit Exemptions

 Many foreign performing artists in Canada don’t need to secure a work permit. Although, some types of performers/performances require a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and Work Permit.

 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, formerly CIC) have listed some common performers/performances and their immigration requirements. For information, click here.


Athletes and Team Members: Work Permit Exemptions

 Professional or amateur athletes may travel to Canada to participate in sports events in Canada, no matter whether they travel individually or as part of a team. This also covers coaches and trainers of foreign athletes, including other key team members. Likewise, foreign pet owners participating in a show, jockey racing horses, race car drivers, grooms or team support members are free to come to Canada without a work permit.


News Reporters, Media Crews: Work Permit Exemptions

 Journalists, news reporters, and other accompanying media staff members coming to Canada to produce, for instance, documentaries may fall under the work permit exemptions. The Canadian visa officer will review the documents of applicants and will be the one who will make a final decision. 


Public Speakers and Convention Organizers

 Guest speakers and commercial speakers at conferences, including seminar leaders and convention organizers can come to Canada without a work permit. Such speakers are expected to rent a commercial space and advertise for the event. However, the work permit exemptions don’t cover the same individuals who are hired by a Canadian organization. This means they will have to obtain an LMIA.


Religious Workers: Work Permit Exemptions

 Persons, such as preachers, foreign religious ministers, or spiritual counselors may work in Canada without a work permit. It is not a must that the temporary workers are part of or share the doctrines of the particular community that hires them. The main duties of the temporary worker should be providing religious instruction or promoting a particular faith. Such individuals will have to present documents to prove they are able to work with parishioners. However, charity and religious workers still need a work permit, but not an LMIA.


Examiners and Evaluators: Work Permit Exemptions

 Foreign professors and researchers sometimes arrive in Canada to evaluate theses and projects prepared by their students. In this case, they may do so without securing a work permit.


Expert Witnesses or Investigators: Work Permit Exemptions

 Likewise, experts and witnesses who need to enter Canada in order to conduct surveys or analyses that will be used in the court can do this without a work permit.


Health Care Students: Work Permit Exemptions

 Foreign health care students from foreign institutions may qualify under work permit exemptions come as part of short-term practicums in Canada. Their study-program may include medicine, nursing, medical technology, and occupational and physical therapy. However, they can receive any payment during these practicums. Otherwise, they will require a work permit.


Civil Aviation Inspectors: Work Permit Exemptions

 Flight operations and cabin safety inspectors inspecting commercial international flights don’t need a work permit. Inspectors should work for a recognized aeronautical authority and hold valid ID proving this fact.


Aviation Accident or Incident Inspector

 Accredited representatives and advisors conducting an investigation of an aviation accident may do so without securing a work permit. The investigation should be authorized by the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act.


Crew Members: Work Permit Exemptions

 Crew members, in general, do not need a work permit if they are working on aircraft belonging to a foreign company. Nevertheless, depending on the mode of transportation, flight attendants might need a work permit.


Emergency Service Providers

 Work permit exemptions apply in times of emergency, such as natural disasters or industrial accidents. Foreign workers then can arrive in Canada without a work permit to reduce life-threatening factors. 


Implied Status: Work Permit Exemptions

 Implied status means that a person whose work permit expired can stay in Canada if he applied for a new work permit before his original visa expired. This person remains in Canada while waiting for a decision about his status.