What is work?

Work is an activity for which wages or commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian Labour Market.

What is a work permit?

A written authorization to work in Canada issued by an officer to a person who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada. It is required whether or not the employer is in Canada. Usually, it is valid only for a specified job and length of time. A work permit may be issued based on labour market opinion (HRDC confirmation) or may be issued on the basis of other requirements.

What is an Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) confirmation?

An HRDC confirmation is the opinion provided by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) to the officer which enables them to determine whether the employment of the foreign worker is likely to have a positive or negative impact on the labour market in Canada. An HRDC confirmation may be required in order for a work permit to be issued.

The HRDC confirmation process is started by the prospective employer who contacts HRDC to get a job offer form. When the form is completed and submitted, HRDC considers several factors, including the availability of Canadians and the offered wages as well as the economic benefit the foreign worker would bring. HRDC then provides advice to the officer.

The HRDC confirmation is typically given for a specific period of time, and the work permit will be issued to coincide with this period. Renewal of a work permit beyond the specified period will therefore likely require a new opinion from HRDC.

Who requires a work permit?

Anyone who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident who wishes to work in Canada needs to be authorized to do so. Depending on the nature of the activity, in some cases the person is authorized to work by virtue of the Regulations themselves. But in most cases, he or she will need to obtain a work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to work legally in Canada. You may obtain further details on persons exempt from obtaining a work permit by visiting our Web site or by contacting a visa office. The requirements to obtain a work permit are outlined in the following pages of this guide.

When should I apply?

You can apply for your work permit as soon as you receive written evidence of your job offer or contract of employment or as soon as you receive an HRDC confirmation. In cases where a HRDC confirmation is not required, you may apply when you have written evidence of your job offer from your employer.

What requirements must I meet to obtain a work permit?

You must show the officer that you meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations. You must also:

- satisfy an officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your employment;

- show that you have enough money to maintain yourself and your family members in Canada;

- be law abiding and have no record of criminal activity (you may be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate);

- not be a risk to the security of Canada;

- be in good health (complete a medical examination, if required);

- produce any additional documents requested by the officer to establish your admissibility.

What documents do I need to apply for a work permit?

Complete the application form and provide the following documents listed below:

Important: Although the documents listed below are normally needed in support of your application, local requirements may also apply. You must satisfy an officer that you will leave Canada. Visit the local Web site of the visa office responsible for your area or contact their office to verify all required documents, before submitting your application.

Proof of identity

- a valid passport or travel document that guarantees re-entry to the country that issued it;

- two recent passport size photos for each family member (the name and date of birth of the person should be written on the back of each photo); and

Proof of employment in Canada

- Your job offer letter or contract from your prospective employer, and the file number provided by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) to locate the labour market opinion (confirmation). Your employer should be able to provide you with this file identifier,

- Evidence that you meet the requirements of the job, possibly including specific educational requirements or past work experience possibly outlined in a resume,

- Evidence of the Certificat d'acceptation du Quebec (CAQ) issued by the Ministere des Relations avec les citoyens et de l'Immigration (MRCI), if you work in Quebec or will be working in Quebec. If you do not need a labour market opinion (confirmation) you will usually not need a CAQ.

In addition, note that:

- if you are not a citizen of the country in which you are applying, you must provide proof of your present immigration status in the country of application;

- if the government that issued your passport or travel document requires a re-entry permit this must be obtained before you apply for a Canadian visa; and

- additional documents may be required

Will I need a medical exam?

In some cases you will require a medical examination. If a medical examination is required, you will be informed by an officer who will send you instructions on how to proceed. A medical examination may add over three months to the processing of your application.

The officer's decision is based on the type of job you will have and where you lived in the past year.

If you wish to work in health services, child care, primary or secondary education, you will need a medical examination and a satisfactory medical assessment before a work permit can be issued to you.

If you want to work in agricultural occupations, a medical examination will be required if you have resided in certain countries.

Are there any conditions on my work permit?

An officer may impose, vary or cancel conditions when issuing a work permit. These may include one or more of the following:

- the type of employment in which you may work;

- the employer for whom you may work;

- where you may work;

- how long you may continue to work.

May my spouse or common-law partner and dependent children accompany me to Canada?

Your spouse or common-law partner and children who wish to visit Canada must apply for permission to do so. As long as you all apply together it will not be necessary for each person to fill out separate application forms. List the names and other information about your family members in the appropriate space on the application. If you require more space, attach a separate piece of paper and indicate the number and letter that you are answering.

Family members are the immediate members of your family. Your husband, wife or common-law partner is your dependant. A common-law partner is a person of the opposite or same sex who is currently cohabiting and has cohabited in a conjugal relationship with you for a period of at least one year.

Dependent children may be your own children or those of your spouse or common-law partner. They must:

- be under the age of 22 and not a spouse or common-law partner; or,

- have depended substantially on the financial support of a parent and have been continuously enrolled and in attendance as full-time students in a post secondary institution accredited by the relevant government authority since before the age of 22 (or since becoming a spouse or a common-law partner, if they married or entered into a common-law relationship before the age of 22); or,

- have depended substantially on the financial support of a parents since before the age of 22 and unable to provide for themselves due to a medical condition.

Children included in the application must meet the definition of "dependent children" both at the time the application is made and, without taking into account whether they have attained 22 years of age, at the time the visa is issued to them.

Your spouse or common law partner and children must meet all the requirements for temporary residents to Canada. They must satisfy an officer that they are genuine temporary residents who will be in Canada for a temporary stay. They may be required to provide evidence that they are law abiding and have no criminal record. If your family member applies for a TRV, they must also meet all the conditions to obtain a visa.

Include them on your application by providing their names and other information in the appropriate space on the application form.

Important: You may be required to provide a marriage certificate and birth certificates for any accompanying family members. If you are in a common-law relationship and your common-law partner will accompany you to Canada, you may be required to complete the enclosed form, Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union (IMM 5409). Also provide evidence outlined on the form to support your relationship.

If your family members wish to follow you to Canada at a later date, they must make a separate application for admission.

May my spouse or common-law partner and dependent children work in Canada?

In order to work while in Canada, your spouse or common-law partner and your dependants must apply for their own work permit and must meet the same standards, including the labour market opinion (confirmation), that regularly apply to a work permit issuance. They may, however apply for their work permit from within Canada. This guide does not provide general information about obtaining a work permit for your spouse or common-law partner or your dependants. For more details including definitions, responsibilities, and conditions of eligibility refer to the guide "Applying to change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada (IMM 5217)". The guide may be obtained by visiting our Web site or once in Canada, you may contact a Call Centre listed under the Contact Information section of this guide.

May I leave, then re-enter Canada?

In order to return to Canada, you must be in possession of a valid passport or travel document. You also need to hold a valid work permit if you are returning to work in Canada.

If you are a citizen of a country that requires a temporary resident visa to travel to Canada, you will also need to be in possession of a valid entry visa to return, unless:

- you are returning to Canada following a visit only to the United States or St.-Pierre and Miquelon; and

- you return before the expiry of the period initially authorized for your entry or any extension to it, either as a visitor, student or worker.

Possession of these documents does not guarantee re-entry. All persons must establish that they meet all of the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations before being authorized to enter or re-enter Canada.

Note: Citizens of the U.S. do not require passports or travel documents to enter or return to Canada. Permanent residents of the U.S. do not require passports or travel documents if they are entering or returning to Canada from the U.S. or St. Pierre and Miquelon. However, both must provide documentary proof of citizenship or permanent residence, such as a national identity card or an alien registration card.

Where do I Apply?

Please submit your application to the Canadian visa office responsible for your area for processing. You should consult the local Web site or office regarding accepted methods of submitting applications. (i.e. general mail, in person, by courier etc.)

Note: If you are a citizen or permanent residents of the United States, Greenland, or St. Pierre and Miquelon you can apply for a work permit at a Port of Entry, but you must produce the confirmation of your offer of employment (i.e. detailed job offer) and have any other documentation required by the officer to make his or her decision when you arrive at the Port of Entry.

Eligibility to apply at a Port of Entry does not overcome the need for the labour market opinion (HRDC confirmation) and the officer at the Port of Entry may be unable to issue your work permit if your prospective employer has not made the necessary contact with Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC).

What Happens Next?

Your application will be reviewed to ensure it has been completed correctly and contains all of the required documents for processing. After reviewing your application, an officer will decide if an interview is necessary. If so, you will be informed of the time and place.

If your application is refused, you will be informed in writing.

If your application is approved, you will receive a letter confirming the approval. This letter is not your work permit. When you arrive in Canada you must show this letter to a Canadian officer at the Port of Entry. The officer at the Port of Entry will determine whether you may enter Canada and how long you may stay. You must leave Canada on or before the date set by the officer or have your status extended by an officer in Canada.

If you move or change your address, telephone or fax number before your application has been processed, you must advise us of this new information by contacting the visa office where you submitted your application

Temporary Resident Visa Exemptions

*Persons who do not require a visa to visit Canada include:

*Subject to change at any time

- citizens of Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Republic of Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel (National Passport holders only), Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Republic of Korea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, United States, and Western Samoa;

- persons lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence who are in possession of their alien registration card (Green card) or can provide other evidence of permanent residence;

- British citizens and British Overseas Citizens who are re-admissible to the United Kingdom;

- citizens of British dependent territories who derive their citizenship through birth, descent, registration or naturalization in one of the British dependent territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena or the Turks and Caicos Islands;

- persons holding a valid and subsisting Special Administrative Region passport issued by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China; and

- persons holding passports or travel documents issued by the Holy See.




Skilled Worker Class

Business Class


Study Permit

Visitor Visa

Work Permits

PR Cards

H&C Cases

Live-in Caregivers

Refugee Claimants








Migration to Canada
I An Introduction I Health I Housing I Welfare Schemes I Your Rights & Duties