Canadian work permits is a category of the temporary resident permits that are granted to foreign nationals that seek authorization to work in Canada. Work permits are widely available for foreign nationals who want to work in Canada on a temporary basis. The Canadian government recognizes the importance of temporary foreign workers to the country’s economy and has created various programs to help temporary foreign workers come to Canada and find gainful employment.
Some of the Canada work permit programs are employer specific while others grant open work permits to foreign nationals. The most significant difference between them is employer specific work permits (also known as closed work permits) allow foreign nationals to work for the only employer designated on the work permit.
That means the employer specific work permit holders are not authorized to work for an employer that has not been identified on their work permit. On the other hands, open work permits allow foreign nationals to work for any employers unless specifically prohibited by their work permits.
The most popular open work permit program is Post-Graduate Work Permits. Post-Graduate Work Permits are granted to the graduates of eligible Canadian college and university programs for up to three years.
The graduates of eligible Canadian college and university programs can obtain open work permits after graduation and legally work and obtain Canadian work experience as long as they meet the other requirements of the Post-Graduate Work Permits and Immigration and Refugees Protection Act (“IRPA”).
Another program available for open work permits in Canada is the International Experience Canada (“IEC”) program. This program is designed for young adults of certain countries who want to live and work in Canada for up to two years. The program has three sub-categories, each with specific eligibility requirements: Working Holiday, Young Professional, and International Co-op.
Employer specific work permits consist of two types: LMIA work permits; LMIA exempt work permits. LMIA applications are processed by the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (“TFWP”) of Service Canada. The TFWP allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers for jobs that Canadians cannot or fill. This program has strict requirements to ensure that foreign workers are treated fairly and that they do not take jobs away from Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
Generally speaking, LMIA exempt work permits come from international trade agreements such as GATTS, NAFTA, CUSMA, Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement, etc. Such Canadian work permits are available to certain professionals, trade workers, high executive positions or employees with specialized knowledge.