Canada offers various immigration programs and work permit options for individuals looking to become permanent residents, work temporarily, or study in the country. This article provides an overview of Canadian work permits, immigration programs, and related information to help prospective immigrants, employers, and foreign workers understand the process.

Canadian Work Permits for Foreign Workers

Foreign workers interested in working in Canada must typically obtain a work permit, unless they are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. A work permit allows individuals to work legally in Canada for a specified period. Let’s explore some of the key work permit options available for foreign workers.

LMIA-Required Work Permits

The most common type of work permit requires a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). An LMIA is a document that shows there is a need for a foreign worker to fill a job position because no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available for the job. Employers must obtain a positive LMIA before hiring a foreign worker for most job positions.

LMIA-Exempt Work Permits

However, there are alternative routes to working in Canada without an LMIA. The International Mobility Program (IMP) offers several streams that do not require an LMIA:

Significant Benefit Stream: Foreign workers who can contribute significantly to Canada’s culture, society, and economy may be eligible for a work permit without an LMIA.

Charitable Worker and Religious Worker Streams: Individuals working for charitable or religious organizations may be exempt from the LMIA requirement while carrying out their duties.

Reciprocal Employment: This stream allows individuals to work in Canada to maintain international relationships, even without an LMIA.

Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP)

International students who have completed eligible programs in Canada may be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP enables students to gain valuable work experience in Canada after graduation. Spouses of international students and skilled foreign workers may also be eligible for work permits under certain conditions.

Temporary Work Permits

Temporary work permits are issued for individuals who wish to work in Canada for a specific period. These permits are usually employer-specific and require a job offer letter from a Canadian employer. There are various streams and programs under which temporary work permits can be obtained, such as the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, the Intra-Company Transfer Program, and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Closed Work Permits and Open Work Permits

Closed work permits restrict employment to a specific Canadian employer. On the other hand, open work permits allow individuals to work for any Canadian employer, except those who are ineligible for hiring foreign workers. Open work permits are commonly issued to individuals who meet specific eligibility requirements, such as the spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or international student.

Canadian Work Permits and Immigration Programs

Apart from work permits, Canada offers various immigration programs to attract skilled workers and individuals with Canadian experience. Let’s take a closer look at some of these programs.

Express Entry

The Express Entry system is a popular immigration program that manages applications for three economic immigration streams: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class. Eligible candidates create an online profile and are ranked based on factors such as age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and adaptability. Successful candidates receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence.

International Experience Canada (IEC)

The International Experience Canada (IEC) program allows young individuals from partner countries to travel and work in Canada on a temporary basis. The program offers various work permit categories, including Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op. Recently, the IEC 2023 program sent out over 1,600 invitations for work permits to eligible candidates.

Intra-Company Transfer Program

The Intra-Company Transfer Program facilitates the transfer of employees within multinational companies to a Canadian branch, subsidiary, or parent company. This program allows skilled workers to gain international work experience while meeting the specific eligibility requirements.

Student Direct Stream (SDS)

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is an expedited study permit processing program available to international students from select countries, including valid work permits if required. Recently, the requirement for International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores for SDS study visas has been eased, expanding the options for language proficiency assessment.


Canada offers a range of work permits and immigration programs to facilitate the entry of foreign workers, international students, and skilled individuals. Whether it’s through LMIA-required work permits, LMIA-exempt streams, post-graduation work permits, or immigration programs like Express Entry and IEC, individuals can explore diverse opportunities to contribute to Canada’s labor market and society. It’s crucial to understand the specific eligibility requirements and processes associated with each program or work permit type to ensure a smooth and successful transition to life and work in Canada.

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