A work visa and permit help skilled foreign workers to join your team, it helps a company be more successful. However, understanding the process can seem difficult. This guide helps you with everything you need to know about getting a work visa and permit for your foreign worker in Canada in 2024.

What are Work Visas and Permits in Canada?

A work visa gives a foreign worker temporary entry and stays in Canada to work for a specific employer. A work permit, on the other hand, officially authorizes them for employment in Canada. Both documents are important for foreign nationals to legally work in this beautiful country.

Key Points to Remember:

  1. In most cases, employers need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to prove that hiring a foreign worker won't negatively affect Canadian citizens or permanent residents with the necessary skills.
  2. There are different LMIA categories and work visa types. Choosing the right ones depends on the specific job and worker qualifications.
  3. Processing times for LMIAs and work permits can vary, so plan accordingly.

Benefits of Hiring Foreign Workers with Work Visas and Permits

  1. Access a wider talent pool:
  2. Recruit highly skilled and qualified workers from around the world to fill crucial positions.

  3. Gain diverse perspectives and skills:
  4. Add to your company's innovation and problem-solving capabilities with a diverse team.

  5. Fill critical skills gaps:
  6. Address unfilled positions in specific industries or occupations.

Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining a Work Visa and Permit for Your Foreign Worker in Canada

Explore Permanent Residency: If you're interested, explore ways to apply for a permanent resident of Canada, such as the Provincial Nominee Program or the Canadian Experience Class offered through Express Entry.

Step 1: Choose the Appropriate LMIA Visa Category

The first step involves identifying the most suitable LMIA visa category for the specific job vacancy and your foreign worker's qualifications. Here's a breakdown of some common LMIA categories:

  1. LMIA Streamlined Processing:
  2. Ideal for high-wage jobs in specific sectors facing skill shortages. This category offers faster processing times.

  3. LMIA Regular Processing:
  4. This category applies to most employer-specific work permits where the foreign worker doesn't qualify for an exemption (like those under free trade agreements).

Step 2: Ensure Your Company Meets LMIA Eligibility Criteria

Before applying for an LMIA, your company must meet specific eligibility requirements set by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). These criteria generally include:

  1. Genuine Need for a Foreign Worker:
  2. Demonstrate efforts to recruit Canadian citizens or permanent residents with the necessary skills through job advertisements.

  3. Competitive Wage Offer:
  4. Ensure the offered wage meets or exceeds the prevailing wage for the position in the specific geographic location.

  5. Employer Obligations:
  6. Comply with all employer requirements under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

  7. TFWP Program Compliance:
  8. Maintain documentation proving your organization adheres to all TFWP regulations.

Step 3: Create a Job Bank Account and Post the Job Vacancy

  1. Job Bank Account Creation:
  2. Establish an account on the Government of Canada's Job Bank website.

  3. Job Posting:
  4. Post a clear and detailed job vacancy ad that accurately reflects the position's duties, qualifications required, salary details, employment duration, working conditions, and other relevant terms.

Here's a table summarizing the Job Bank posting requirements:

Job Bank Posting Requirements Details
Job Duties Clearly outline the responsibilities and tasks associated with the position.
Qualifications Specify the required education, experience, skills, and any certifications needed.
Salary Details Indicate the offered wage or salary range.
Employment Duration Specify the length of the employment contract (temporary, permanent, etc.).
Working Conditions Describe the work environment, including full-time/part-time status, benefits offered, and any other relevant details.
Additional Terms Mention any other pertinent information about the position.

Step 4: Actively Advertise and Recruit

  1. Advertising Channels:
  2. Promote the job vacancy on various platforms beyond the Job Bank. Explore online job boards, your company website, and local newspapers to reach a wider range of potential candidates.

  3. Recruitment Period:
  4. Actively advertise the position for at least four consecutive weeks.

  5. Candidate Interviews:
  6. During the advertising period, actively interview and consider eligible candidates. Maintain records of interviews, applications, and the recruitment process.

Step 5: Submit an LMIA Assessment Through the Online Portal

Once you've found a suitable candidate, it's time to obtain an LMIA from ESDC. This document demonstrates the need for a foreign worker and the absence of qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents for the specific job. 

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There are two main types of LMIA applications:

  1. Standard LMIA Applications:
  2. These are for employers hiring foreign workers for permanent positions. The processing time can range from 60 to 120 days.

  3. Streamlined LMIA Applications:
  4. These are for employers hiring foreign workers for temporary positions in high-wage occupations listed on the Government of Canada's website. Streamlined LMIAs typically boast faster processing times of around 10 business days.

Fees and Processing Times:

There's a fee associated with submitting an LMIA application for each job vacancy you want to fill. The exact fee depends on the type of LMIA application you submit. Be sure to check the ESDC website for the current fee schedule.

Step 6: Provide a Copy of the LMIA Letter to the Temporary Foreign Worker

Once you receive a positive LMIA decision, you must provide the foreign worker with a valid offer of employment and a digital copy of the LMIA letter. Armed with this letter, the worker can apply for an employer-specific work permit.

The foreign worker can apply for a work permit:

  1. From inside Canada: If they are already in Canada under valid immigration status.
  2. From outside Canada: This is the most common scenario.

Here's what the foreign worker needs to do to apply for a work permit:

  1. Create an IRCC Account:
  2. The worker will need to create an account on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.

  3. Complete the Online Application:
  4. The worker must fill out the online work permit application form and ensure all the information is accurate and complete.

  5. Upload Required Documents:
  6. In addition to the LMIA letter and job offer, several other documents are typically required for a work permit application. The exact documents needed can vary depending on the worker's situation. It's advisable to check the IRCC website for the latest list of required documents. Some common documents include:

    1. A valid travel document (passport)
    2. Proof of medical examination (if applicable)
    3. Police certificates from all countries where they have lived for six months or more over the past ten years
    4. Proof of sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay in Canada

  7. Pay the Application Fee:
  8. There is a fee associated with submitting a work permit application. The current fee can be found on the IRCC website.

  9. Submit the Application:
  10. Once all documents are uploaded and the fee is paid, the worker can submit their work permit application electronically.

Processing Times:

The processing time for work permit applications can vary depending on the worker's citizenship and the complexity of the application. The average processing time is generally between 2-4 months, but it can be longer in some cases.

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Step 7: Complete Biometrics and Passport Stamping (if applicable)

If the work permit application is approved and the worker is applying from outside Canada, they will need to complete biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) at a designated visa application center (VAC). Once biometrics are complete, the worker will need to send their passport to the VAC or visit the VAC in person to submit their passport for stamping with a work permit visa.

Step 8: Welcome Your New Employee to Canada!

Once the worker receives their passport with the work permit visa stamp, they can plan their travel to Canada. The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) will issue the final copy of the work permit upon arrival in Canada. The work permit will be valid for the same duration as the LMIA.

Important Reminders for Employers

  1. Keep accurate records related to the employment of foreign workers, including copies of the LMIA, job offer, work permit, and any communication with immigration authorities. This is crucial for compliance purposes and potential future audits.
  2. Employers are responsible for ensuring their foreign workers adhere to the conditions of their work permit, such as working for the specific employer listed on the permit and not exceeding the authorized duration of their stay.

By following this step-by-step guide, you can successfully navigate the process of obtaining a work visa and permit for your foreign worker in Canada. This will allow you to tap into a wider pool of skilled talent and strengthen your competitive edge in the global marketplace.