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Work Permit

Foreign nationals wishing to work in Canada on a temporary basis usually require a work permit. 

There are two main programs through which work permits are issued: the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP).

The TFWP offers work permits for candidates whose employers obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

A positive LMIA confirms there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job and that no Canadian worker is available to do the job.

IMP work permits do not require a positive LMIA. They do require the employer to submit an employment offer under their employer portal.


Canada issues two types of work permits: employer-specific work permits and open work permits.

Employer-Specific Work Permit

An employer-specific work permit includes conditions such as:

  • Name of a specific employer,

  • How long a candidate can work,

  • The location of a candidate’s work.

Candidates applying for an employer-specific work permit must have from their employer a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or an offer of employment before applying.

Open Work Permit

An open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada, except for an employer:

You can only get an open work permit in specific situations

You may be eligible for an open work permit if you

In each of these situations, you must meet additional criteria to be eligible.

International Mobility Program: Authorization to work without a work permit

Certain occupations are exempt from the work permit requirement.

To determine whether a temporary resident requires a work permit or a Labour Market Impact Assessment, officers must first determine whether the activity the person seeks to engage in constitutes "work" as defined by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. 

Authorization to work without a work permit


Registered Indians

Per paragraph 186(x) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, registered Indians, as defined under the Indian Act, are exempt from having to apply for a work permit.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The TFWP is intended to help Canadian employers recruit foreign workers in response to labour market shortages.

TFWP is made up of four streams: high-skilled workers, low-skilled workers, the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, and the Live-In Caregiver Program.

Foreign workers must have an approved job offer and a work permit before arriving in Canada under the TFWP.

Through the LMIA, IRCC works with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to ensure foreign workers do not take jobs for which Canadian citizens or permanent residents are available. 

Public policy: Open work permits for Hong Kong recent graduates

Who can apply

To be eligible, you must

  • hold a valid passport issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or the United Kingdom to a British National Overseas

    • Your work permit will be valid for up to 3 years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

      • For example, if your passport is valid for 6 months, then you will be issued an open work permit for 6 months.

      • To maximize the duration of the open work permit, make sure your passport is valid for at least 3 years from the date of approval.

      • Tell us how long you want your work permit to be valid.

  • meet the education requirements for post-secondary, graduate or post-graduate studies (see below for details)

Education requirements for post-secondary studies

You must have graduated no more than 5 years before you apply for this open work permit, with one of the following:

Education requirements for graduate and post-graduate studies Effective May 17, 2021

You must hold a graduate or post-graduate credential (for example, a post-graduate diploma) that you received no more than 5 years before you apply for this open work permit.

The credential must be for a program

  • that is a minimum of 1 year

  • that requires a post-secondary degree or diploma, which you completed no more than 5 years before you started the post-graduate program

  • at one of the following:

If you applied before May 17, 2021

You may still be eligible for this public policy if both of the following apply:

  • You hold an eligible graduate or post-graduate credential.

  • We haven’t made a decision on your application.

If you got your education abroad

You don’t need an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to apply if you got a degree (for example, associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral) outside Canada, but an officer may request one later.

If you got a post-secondary, graduate or post-graduate diploma outside Canada, you must provide an ECA.

The ECA must be from an organization or a professional body designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. They’ll give you a report that tells you what your education is equal to in Canada.

Processing times and costs vary by the organization or professional body.

Once you choose a designated organization or a professional body, they’ll tell you how to submit your documents to get your assessment.

Designated organizations

You must use one of these designated organizations:

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