Foreign nationals who wish to work in Canada usually require a work permit. Canada offers a number of different work permit options under various programs to global talent and employers. However, there are two major types of work permits programs in Canada:

Temporary Foreign Worker Program: A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is required for a foreign national to obtain a work permit. Such a type of work permit is a closed work permit and is employer-specific.

International Mobility Program: An LMIA is not required for a foreign national and allows you to work for any employer in Canada. However, it is issued under some circumstances. 

There are three options relating to the duration of employment for an LMIA:
  • Temporary duration to support a work permit application only.
  • Permanent duration to support a permanent residence application
  • A combination of permanent and temporary duration to support both a permanent residence application and a work permit application.

Permanent duration to support a permanent residence application. Work permits issued under a permanent duration LMIA will be issued for a maximum period of two years, provided the candidate meets the requirements set out in the LMIA. The work permit will not be extended regardless of whether or not a permanent residence application is underway

Workers who are eligible for the International Mobility Program (IMP) include:

  • Those entering Canada on an open work permit.
  • Those entering Canada as intra-company transferees.
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An LMIA exempt or an open work permit  is issued to the following individuals are eligible to be issued an open work permit:

  • Applicants with no other means of support. (Foreign Nationals with No Other Means of Support)
  • Certain kinds of permanent resident applicants living in Canada. (Permanent Residence Applicants in Canada)
  • Foreign nationals living in Canada for humanitarian reasons. (Humanitarian-Based Open Work Permits)
  • Canada World Youth Program participants
  • Participants in certain international student and young worker exchange programs
  • The family members of military personnel and foreign representatives who are exempt from the LMIA requirement
  • Professional athletes entering Canada who require other work to support themselves while playing for a Canadian team
  • Spouses of skilled worker residents

Foreign nationals currently in Canada whose work permit will soon expire and who have submitted an application for permanent residence under:

  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
  • The Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
  • A Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

Foreign nationals who have submitted an application for PR under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (SCLPC) will be eligible if:

  • They have submitted a Permanent Residence Application under the SCLPC class
  • The applicant’s spouse/partner is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • The applicant’s spouse/partner has submitted a sponsorship application on the applicant’s behalf
  • The SCLPC applicant resides at the same address as the sponsor/spouse/partner
  • The SCLPC applicant has valid temporary resident status as a visitor, student or worker