You may not need a work permit to work in Canada temporarily. Find out if you need one. If your job category is listed below, you do not need a work permit. However, you may need to meet other requirements. Read the information carefully. If your job category is not listed below, you need a work permit. You should find out if you need a Labour Market Opinion.
Jobs that do not require a work permit
If your job category is listed below, you do not need a work permit. However, you many need to meet other requirements. Read the information carefully.
Athletes and coaches: Foreign teams, athletes and coaches can compete in Canada without a work permit.
Aviation accident or incident investigators: Accredited representatives or advisers coming to Canada to work on an aviation accident or incident investigation conducted under the authority of the Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act do not need a work permit.
Business visitors: Business visitors do not need a work permit. A business visitor is someone who comes to Canada to engage in international business activities without directly entering the Canadian labour market. Find out more information on entering Canada as a business visitor. (Important: “Business people” is a different category with different requirements.)
Civil aviation inspectors: Inspectors coming to Canada to inspect the flight operations or cabin safety of commercial airlines during international flights do not need a work permit.
Clergy: People coming to Canada to work as ordained ministers, lay persons or members of a religious order do not need a work permit to perform their religious duties or assist a religious group. These religious duties may include preaching doctrine, presiding at liturgical functions or providing spiritual counselling.
Convention organizers: Organizers and administrative staff of international meetings or conventions being held in Canada do not need a work permit. Note: People providing “hands- on” services at these events must have a work permit. For example: audiovisual services, show decorating, building, installing and dismantling.
Crew members: Foreign crew members, such as truck drivers, bus drivers, shipping and airline personnel, do not need work permits when:
- they are working on vehicles of foreign ownership and registry that are engaged primarily in the international transport of cargo and passengers.
- their work is related to the operation of vehicles or the provision of services to passengers.
Emergency service providers: People coming to Canada to help out in an emergency do not need a work permit if they are coming to this country to help preserve life or property. Examples of emergencies would be natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes, or industrial accidents threatening the environment.
Examiners and evaluators: Professors and academic experts coming to Canada to evaluate or supervise academic projects, research proposals or university theses do not need a work permit. This applies to Canadian research organizations as well as to academic institutions.
Expert witnesses or investigators: Experts coming to Canada to give evidence before a regulatory body, tribunalor court of law do not need a work permit.
Family members of foreign representatives: To work in Canada without a permit, a foreign representative’s spouse, son or daughter must:
- obtain an accreditation (counterfoil in their passport) from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). Should a person not be accredited, DFAIT will refer that person to immigration officials.
Family members who are not accredited may qualify for a student or a work permit under regular immigration requirements.
- have a letter of no-objection from DFAIT (normally only issued if there is reciprocal employment arrangement with that country). To know where to obtain the letter of no-objection, search for the contact information of diplomatic missions, consular posts and International organizations on the Foreign Representatives in Canada page of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website.
Foreign government officers: Canada has exchange agreements with some countries for officials to work in each other’s government departments. Government officials coming to work in Canada do not need a work permit, but they must bring a formal letter of agreement if they will be working in Canada here for longer than three months.
Foreign representatives: Diplomats and official representatives of other countries or the United Nations and their staff can work in Canada without a work permit.
Health care students: Foreign students in residency, extern or fellowship positions in Canadian clinical settings need a work permit. Foreign health care students can do their clinical clerkships or work in Canada short-term without a work permit if:
- the main purpose of the work is to acquire training,
- they have a written approval from the Canadian regulatory board responsible for their occupation (note that certain provinces do not require written approval). For further details, please refer to Section 5.17.
- their normal training practicum does not exceed four months.
Foreign health care students also need to:
- undergo a Canadian immigration medical examination before coming to Canada.
Judges, referees and similar officials: Officials at international amateur competitions can come to Canada to judge or officiate without a work permit. This includes judges or adjudicators of artistic or cultural events such as music and dance festivals, judges of animal shows and judges of agricultural competitions.
Military personnel: Members of an armed force from another country can work in Canada without a work permit if they have movement orders stating that they are entering Canada under the terms of the Visiting Forces Act.
News reporters, film and media crews: An employee of a foreign news company does not need a work permit to report on events in Canada. This applies to:
- news reporters and their crews.
- film or media crews who are not entering the Canadian labour market.
- journalists working for a print, broadcast or an internet news service provider (journals, newspapers, magazines, television shows, etc.,) if the company they work for is not Canadian.
- resident correspondents.
- managerial and clerical personnel provided that the event is short-term (6 months or less).
Performing artists: Foreign artists and their essential support staff, the people that are integral to the performance, can work in Canada without a permit only under these conditions:
- They are only performing in Canada for a limited period of time.
- They will not be performing in a bar or restaurant. If they will do so, performers and their staff each need a work permit.
- They are not entering into an employment relationship with the Canadian group that has contracted for their services.
- They are not performing in the production of a movie, television or radio broadcast.
Examples of performing artists who can come to Canada without a work permit:
- foreign-based band or theatre group and their essential crew not performing in a bar or restaurant
- street performers (buskers), disc jockeys
- foreign or traveling circus
- guest artists within a Canadian performance group for a time-limited engagement
- World Wrestling Entertainment wrestlers (and similar groups)
- persons performing at a private event, such as a wedding
- air show performers,
- rodeo contestants
- artists attending or working at a showcase
- film producers (business visitors)
- film and recording studio users (limited to small groups renting studios who are not entering the labour market and business visitors)
- persons doing guest spots on Canadian television and radio broadcasts (guest speakers)
Public speakers: Guest speakers, commercial speakers or seminar leaders can speak or deliver training in Canada without a work permit as long as the event is no longer than five days.
Students working on campus: Full-time foreign students can work without a work permit on the campus of the institution where they are studying. For more information, see Studying in Canada: Work permits for students — Working on campus. To study in Canada, foreign students may need a study permit.
What you should know
If you want to work in Canada, you must understand the following important information:
- Your employer may need to get a labour market opinion (LMO) from Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC). An LMO confirms that there is no Canadian or permanent resident available, and the employer can fill the job with a foreign worker.
- Some jobs do not require an LMO. Find out if you need one.
- You must meet the general requirements for entering the country, for staying in Canada and for getting a work permit. This means you may also need a temporary resident visa. Learn more about temporary resident visas.
- A work permit is not an immigration document. It does not allow you to live in Canada permanently. To live in Canada permanently, you must qualify under an immigration category, such as a skilled worker. Learn more about immigrating to Canada.
- Live–in caregivers who meet certain requirements can apply to stay in Canada permanently.
- Your spouse or common-law partner and your dependent children may apply to come to Canada with you.
Apply for a work permit
Find out if you are eligible to apply for a work permit. You normally have to apply for a work permit from outside Canada. Sometimes, you can apply as you enter Canada or from inside Canada, but many of the requirements are the same.
The requirements and processing times depend on the kind of work you will do when you come to Canada.
If your family members want to work in Canada
If you are authorized to work in Canada, your accompanying family members may also be able to work in this country by virtue of the permit you were issued. No other authorization is required. If they intend to work while in Canada, your accompanying family members should find out if they are eligible for an “open” work permit.
Open work permits allow them to work in any job with any employer. An open work permit also means that they may be hired without the employer having to obtain an LMO (the normal authorization required). Certain jobs may require medical checks or licensing from professional organizations. Accompanying family members’ work permits will be valid for no longer than the duration of your own work permit.
Typically, your spouse’s eligibility for an open work permit depends on the skill level of your job. If the job you are doing is listed as a National Occupational Classification (NOC) 0, A or B, your spouse or common-law partner could be eligible for an open work permit. You must also be authorized to work in Canada for a period of at least six months.
If you are working in an occupation that requires a lower level of formal training, your spouse may also be eligible for an open work permit through an active pilot project.
In addition, your dependent children may be eligible for an open work permit through an active pilot project.
Accompanying family members must always apply for their own work permits. They should apply for one at the same time as you, before entering Canada. Should the decision to work occur only after their arrival in Canada, they can apply once they are in this country.
If you are the holder of a Post-Graduation Work Permit, which is a type of open work permit, your spouse will need to attach a copy of your work permit to his or her application for an open work permit. Your spouse will also need to provide information about your employment by attaching supporting documents, including the following:
- A letter from your current employer confirming employment or a copy of your employment offer or contract; AND
- A copy of one of your pay slips.