Canada work permits and visas

Canada work permits and visas
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Canada is one of the easiest countries in which to do business and hire a global remote team. Although there is no talent shortage, you may want to boost your team with exceptional foreign professionals. Each foreigner you hire must possess work permits, visas, and other documents.

There’s no easy way out. Attempting to hire foreigners without the necessary documents may lead to severe penalties. Hiring unauthorized workers may lead to a two-year prison sentence or a fine of about $50,000. You need all the requisite vital information to process a Canada work visa application compliantly.

This guide will teach you the difference between a Canada work permit and a work visa. Finally, you will discover the eligibility requirements, necessary documents, and the roles employers play in facilitating work permit issuance.

Types of Canada work visas

Working in Canada requires legal authorization, especially for foreigners. Legal aliens working in the country also enjoy similar benefits to local workers. Before non-natives outside the country can work in Canada, they must enter the country legally.

Migrating to Canada requires a visa; the type depends on the reason for entering the country. Those wanting to move to Canada for work will need a work visa or permit. A work visa performs the same function as a Canada work permit. Canadian immigration officers use the terms interchangeably.

Before applying for any permit, you should check if your employee needs one. There are two main types of work permits in Canada. This country has employer-specific and open employment permits. The one you help your employee process will depend on the nature of your professional relationship.

Employer-specific work permit

This Canada work permit is tailored for companies that identify particular talents to solve problems. The employer-specific permit ensures that your employee moves to Canada for the sole purpose of working for you. With this permit, the worker cannot work for any other employer in Canada.

The conditions of your employment agreement will come in handy when working with your employee. Crucial information required for this permit includes the following:

  • The employment duration
  • The company or employer’s location
  • Your name and the name of your company

Ensure you give your employee the documents to process their Canada work visa or permit. The documents include a copy of the signed job contract, labor market impact assessment and the employment offer letter.

Open work permit

The open work permit enables foreigners to enter Canada legally to work for any employer. This visa type doesn’t tie an individual down to a company. Legal aliens can work for any company except those blacklisted for failing to comply with local legislation.

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Requirements for Canadian work permits and visas

A Canada work permit is mandatory for foreigners wanting to work legally. A legal alien can legally reside in the country without a work permit. However, getting paid for rendering services to an employer would be illegal.

Whoever wants to apply for a W1 visa in Canada must meet certain requirements. There are general and specific Canada work visa requirements, depending on the applicant’s location.

General requirements

Whoever chooses to apply for a work permit in Canada must ensure that they meet the following criteria:

  • Prove that they will return to their country when their contract expires
  • Pose no threat to national security and will abide by the laws
  • Have sufficient funds to sustain their lifestyle in Canada
  • Cooperate with the immigration officers when filing documents
  • Be sure not to work for ineligible or non-compliant employers
  • Will not work for employers who regularly provide escort services
  • Must be in good physical condition

Besides the general criteria for individuals moving to Canada for work, other eligibility requirements exist. Learning the eligibility requirements for individuals applying within and outside of Canada is advisable.

There are also requirements for air travel from countries with a high rate of COVID-19. Countries like Macau and Hong Kong fall into this category. Lastly, you should also learn the eligibility requirements when entering Canada at a port of entry. You may visit the official Canada immigration website for up-to-date information.

How to apply for a Canada work visa

To apply for a Canada work permit, visit the official Canada immigration website. You may be asked some questions to ensure you are eligible for the permit before applying. During this process, you will fill out the form with your details. You will get a notification after applying.

It doesn’t end there. After applying for any of these visas, there are essential steps you must take. Each step depends on whether you are applying from Canada or abroad.

Applying from outside of Canada

The steps for applicants outside of Canada differ from those within its shores. Non-residents must book their fingerprints and biometrics data capturing date. It is advisable to book a date as soon as possible. This is due to the large number of applicants wanting the same spot.

Applying early can help you avoid delays while processing the W1 visa in Canada. Information is usually attached to the biometric instruction letter concerning the available period for the procedure. Applicants should check the deadline to schedule an early appointment.

Applying from within Canada

It’s possible to apply for a work permit while in Canada. Applications for work permits in Canada are for people in the following categories:

  • people working without a permit but need one to change jobs
  • employees wanting to renew their work permits
  • students who need a post-graduation work permit
  • protected persons and those seeking permanent residence
  • foreigners whose parents or spouses have a valid work or study permit.

The applicant will book an appointment for their biometrics and fingerprint data collection if applicable. Ensure that your employee selects an appointment date on the biometric instruction letter before the deadline.

While applying, Canadian immigration officials will verify the application documents. The documents will be returned without processing if incomplete. If the documents are complete, the officials will begin processing the work permit.

The officials will also run a background check on you and the employee. They check to determine if employers are compliant with the local legislation. If the employer passes the test, the processing continues. While verifying the employer’s compliance status, they will also check if the employee qualifies for the permit.

A medical exam might be necessary, depending on the employee's job. After the permit expires, you can facilitate the renewal. While awaiting renewal, the employee can work legally in the country.


Those eligible for work permit processing within Canada must meet the following criteria:

  • Reside in Canada while processing their work permit
  • Be a legal alien while seeking a work permit. If their visitor status expires, applicants must renew it before applying for a work permit.
  • Applied for an employer-specific work permit before March 1, 2025.
  • Held a Canada work permit valid for at least 12 months before applying

Employees must contact Canadian immigration officials to get authorization to work while awaiting their permit renewal. By filling out a form, they will request permission to continue working with the outdated permit. Applicants should note their application and tracking number to follow up on the procedure's progress.

The next steps

After getting the work permit, the new employee must ensure the following upon arriving in Canada:

  • Have their valid international passport, visa, and other vital travel documents
  • Provide a negative COVID-19 test (for those coming from Hong Kong, Macau, or China)
  • Present documents to show that they were employed for a role by a Canadian company
  • Possess a document containing the offer number the employer got when they tendered an offer of employment online
  • Show proof of the Canada work permit application.

When your employee enters Canada, the immigration officers will check their identity. They will determine if their fingerprints and biometrics match the ones in the documents. They will also have to convince the border officials of their eligibility to enter the country for work purposes.

Once they confirm the information is accurate, the officers will issue a work permit.

Application processing time

After completing the application process, you await the immigration service’s response. It may take up to six weeks to get a confirmation. In most cases, it takes months to process the application.

Generally, work permit processing time does not include the time it takes to complete your biometrics. Likewise, it excludes the time it takes the Canadian immigration service to receive your visa application from the processing center.

Planning to hire or work in Canada? Here’s how Skuad can help

You probably can’t wait to relish the advantages of having a remote team in Canada. There’s no better time than the present to start hiring in Canada.

Although promising, hiring and processing Canadian work permits is not always a walk in the park. It can be surprisingly long, tricky, and nearly frustrating without working with employers of record like Skuad. At Skuad, we keep you in the driver’s seat while we help you structure, manage, and compensate your global team.

You have the freedom to hire whomever you want. Choose your team, and we will take care of the rest. Skuad will help you facilitate the onboarding, payment, and management of your remote team in North America. Throughout this process, we will ensure you achieve 100% compliance with the local legislation. Book a demo today and discover how we will revolutionize your global expansion aspirations.

Frequently Asked Questions about Canada work permits and visas

How do I get a work permit in Canada?

Getting a Canada work permit takes a series of steps laid out by the immigration service. Learning the process and checking if you are eligible before applying is advisable. If eligible, apply online at the official immigration website. To apply online, you must possess these crucial documents:

  • A valid passport
  • CV or resume
  • Passport photograph
  • Academic credentials
  • Employment offer or contract documents
  • Proof of enough funds to stay in the country
  • Proof that the applicant will return to their country
  • Copy or medical examination results
  • Proof of status in Canada for the applicant and their family
  • Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (if applicable)

After applying, you will give the immigration officials your biometrics data (photo and fingerprint scans) for further assessment. Submitting your biometrics wouldn’t be necessary if you already live in Canada. Once the immigration service receives your data and application, they begin the processing. If you qualify, they will email you and let you know when you can start working legally.

Is it easy to get a work permit in Canada?

It is not always an easy process. These steps can be long, multi-layered, and have certain conditions and clauses. The application procedure is different for those within and outside Canada. Applicants living outside Canada must send biometrics data according to specific instructions, which can change. The eligibility criteria, work permit categories, and the typically long processing times can be a challenge.

How long does a Canadian work permit take?

Often, work permit processing can take months and varies by country. For instance, the processing time for a work permit for a Singaporean is different from an American. The processing time for a temporary residence application for a work permit in Singapore is 37 weeks.

It would take 15 weeks for an applicant living in the U.S. to get a work permit. Those applying from within Canada would get their work permit in 53 days (paper) or 156 days (online).

Although the processing time seems long, it could be longer. Canada currently prioritizes applications for essential jobs. If you are applying for a non-essential occupation, you may wait longer for a response.

How much money is required for a work permit in Canada?

The amount of money you need for a work permit depends on the permit type. The Canada work permit processing fee for employee-specific permits is CAD$155. You will pay CAD$255 for an open work permit.

Besides the permit type you are processing, the processing fee increases for group applicants. For instance, a sports team or artistic group will pay extra fees when processing their visas. You will also pay more if you move to Canada with your family on a work visa.

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