Work Permit

Foreign nationals must obtain a work permit to work and legally stay in Canada. A work permit is a legal document issued by the government for a certain period. It is possible to renew the work permit at the end of this period; otherwise, you cannot legally work in Canada. 

Work permits and applications are for temporary workers, business people, and students. 

The applicants: 

– Must prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when their work permit expires.  

– have to show that they have enough money to take care of themselves and their family members during their stay in Canada and to return home 

– Must obtain that they will obey the law and have no record of criminal activity, not be a danger to Canada’s security 

– Must be in good health and have a medical exam, if needed,  

 – Should guarantee not plan to work for an employer listed with the status “ineligible” on the list of employers who failed to comply with the conditions. 


  • Employer-Specific Work Permit (Closed Work Permit) 

This type of work permit is appropriate for work for one employer only. The closed work permit document usually contains information about the employer, the work location, and the employment duration. 

Since the Closed work permits are tied to specific employers, they must remain working with the same employer at the same location unless they change their work permit. 

Most of the closed work permit applications from foreign nationals require an official job offer from a Canadian employer. 

A closed work permit offers faster turnaround times and less expensive procedures and can make transitioning to permanent status in the country easier. Since closed work permits are valid only for a specific employer, prospective applicants should consider whether this permit suits their needs. 

With a closed work permit, foreign nationals can come to Canada with temporary status and experience living in Canada before applying for permanent residence. 

  • Open work permits (OWP) 

Open work permit is a flexible work permit that allows the holder to work for any employer. An open work permit is a type of work permit that is not employer- and job-specific and allows the permit holder to work with almost any Canadian employer without the need for an approved job offer. 

The most significant advantage of having an open work permit is that you can work in the profession you choose or with the employer you want. 

Open work permit applications are subject to a fee, but fees may vary when applying with family members. If you renew your work permit, you may be required to pay specific additional fees. 

The documents required for a work permit in Canada will depend on the type of permit you are applying for. Applicants have documents they must submit as part of their work permit application. 

Although it varies depending on the type of open work permit the person applies for, the generally requested documents are as follows: 

  • Completed application forms on the IRCC portal 
  • Proof of status in Canada (if applicable) 
  • Family member’s proof of status (if applicable) 
  • Labor Market Impact Assessment (if applicable) 
  • A written offer of employment (if applicable) 
  • CV/resumé 
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable) 
  • Any document that proves that you meet the job requirements 
  • A valid copy of your passport 
  • Copy of education credentials 
  • Medical exam results (depends on the applicant, if requested) 
  • Evidence of financial sources means to stay in Canada and return to home country 
  • Proof of payment for applicable government fees made for the application 
  • Passport-sized photos 

If you are applying for a work permit in Canada, IRCC will send you an approval letter. The approval letter will appear in your IRCC account if you submit your application online. You will receive the approval letter by mail at the address you gave to the IRCC if you submit a paper-based application.  

Once you have received your approval letter, both online or by mail, your physical work permit will arrive by mail. The permit will be activated, and you can use it to work in Canada. 

If you submit your work permit application outside Canada, then you will receive a letter with instructions on getting your physical work permit at the Canadian port of entry (POE). The letter containing instructions will be available on your online account if you submit the application online. If you applied on paper, you would receive the letter to your mailing address, which you gave to the IRCC. 

  • Spousal\Common Law partner Open Work Permit (SOWP) 

If your spouse is a work permit or study permit holder in Canada, or if you have applied to be sponsored for permanent residence by your spouse or partner in Canada, you may be eligible for an open work permit. 

The Open Work Permit for Spousal, Common-Law, and Conjugal Partners eliminates the need for a spouse to choose between being able to work and being able to meet with their partner. It also helps alleviate the economic and emotional difficulties a lengthy application process brings. 

A spousal open work permit (SOWP) allows you to work with any eligible employer in Canada. Since SOWP is not employer-specific, you can have an open work permit with spouse-only status without needing a job offer in Canada to apply. This way, you will have the chance to look for a job after coming to Canada. 

Find more about get a work permit 

  • Post-Graduate Work permit (PGWP) 

PGWP is a type of open work permit that allows international students who have graduated from government designated learning institutions to work in Canada for a certain period of time. Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) refer to colleges and universities accredited by the Canadian government to admit international student.  

The duration of this type of work permit varies from eight months to 3 years, depending on the study period. Not every program at the designated educational institutions is suitable for this work permit type, and candidates who intend to apply for a work permit should be careful about the program they choose. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC has established a special policy that allows international students to study remotely at a Canadian Designated Learning Institution and still qualify for the PGWP if they meet all other requirements. However, as of September 1, 2023, a new regulation has been made so that the period of study completed abroad will be deducted from the international student’s PGWP period, regardless of when the international student started their education. 

There are some eligibility conditions for PGWP:  

– Completed studies in a program of at least eight months and full-time student study at an eligible Designated Learning Institution (DLI) List. 

The program leads with a degree, diploma or certificate. 

– Received a transcript and an official graduation letter from the institution which is eligible DLI confirming that the applicant has met the requirements to complete their program of study; 

– A post-graduation work permit application must include the transcript and official letter. 

Study permits expire after 90 days of graduation, regardless of the printed date. International graduates must update their status with IRCC. Otherwise, they risk losing their status in Canada. 

Many graduates are mostly eligible to apply for a Post-graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Getting a PGWP is critical since the Work experience gained on a PGWP may help facilitate an application for Canadian permanent residence, especially through programs such as the Canadian Experience Class and certain Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams. 

Find more about get a work permit 

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