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How to apply for a work visa for Canada?

Posted on June 18, 2020
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How to apply for a work visa for Canada

If you wish to work in Canada, you will need a work visa. The work visa is known as the work permit in Canada. You will have to apply for a work permit if you are not a permanent resident but have a job from a Canadian employer.

 Different types of work permits

There are two types of work permits – open work permit and an employer-specific work permit. An open work permit basically allows you to work for any employer in Canada. This visa is not job-specific, so applicants do not require the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or an offer letter from an employer who has paid the compliance fee.

With an open work permit, you can work for any employer except for those companies that do not comply with labor requirements or are involved in services like escort services, erotic massage, or exotic dancing.

The employer-specific work permit as the name suggests is a permit that allows you to work for a specific employer. 

Eligibility requirements for a work permit

As an applicant you should:

  • Prove to the officer that when your work permit expires, you will leave the country
  • Show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members and return to your home country once the work permit expires
  • Have no criminal record and have police clearance certificates
  • Not be a security risk to Canada
  • Have good health and undergo a medical examination of required
  • Not be planning to work for an employer with an “ineligible” status on the list of employers who have failed to meet the conditions
  • Offer the officer any other documents that they request to prove that you can enter the country

Required documents:

  1. Passport with validity for more than six months after your planned date of entry into Canada
  2. Proof of your educational qualifications
  3. Marriage certificate if applicable
  4. Birth certificates of children if applicable
  5. Medical examination certificate-you need to complete a medical exam to be eligible to work in childcare, health services, primary or secondary school teaching or in the agriculture field

Applicants may use the open work permit to bring their spouse or partner and minor children provided they include their documents in the application so that they can be assessed as a family.

Stages of the application process:

  • In the first stage of the application process, the employer applies for a Labor market impact assessment (LMIA)
  • In the second stage, the employer gives a temporary job offer
  • In the third stage, the foreign worker will apply for a work permit
  • In the fourth stage, the work permit is issued
  • Applying for the work permit within or outside Canada

Anyone from outside Canada can apply for a work permit before they enter the country. This is required if they need a visa to enter Canada and must undergo a medical examination before they enter the country.

You can apply for a work permit from within Canada

  • If you are currently working or studying in Canada or if your spouse or parents have a study or work permit.
  • If you have completed your graduation from a Canadian university
  • If you have a temporary resident permit which is valid for six months or longer
  • If you have applied for a PR visa or have been included in an application

LMIA and work permits

There are two types of LMIAs

  1. Temporary job offers
  2. Permanent job offers

The LMIAs for permanent job offers is a two-year permit with an extension for two years.

LMIAs for temporary job offers are valid for a maximum of two years and cannot be extended.

For Temporary job offer the maximum will be 2 years and cannot be extended

The LMIA is part of the various measures to protect the interests of the local Canadian labor market and is required to ensure that employing a foreign worker will not have a negative effect on the labor market.

A foreign worker who is applying for a work permit must have copy of the LMIA as part of his application for a work permit. However certain types of work permits are exempt from the LMIA.  These include:

  • Open work permits
  • Closed LMIA-exempt work permits

While open work permits do not require an LMIA from the employer for approval, closed permits have this requirement.

Most of the work permits are closed work permits and they require a positive LMIA. Closed work permits are employer-specific and applies to a specific position and specific employer mentioned in the LMIA.

The closed LMIA-exempt work permits allow foreign workers to work for a specific employer in a specific position but do not need a LMIA. The nature of the job usually decides if it is LMIA exempt or not.

Conditions for LMIA exemption

Significant benefit: If your employer can prove that your employment will bring important economic, cultural or social benefit to the country then the work permit will be LMIA exempt. These can include artists, technical workers, engineers or professionals with specialized skills or knowledge.

Reciprocal employment: Foreign workers who have an opportunity to work in specific industries in Canada and where Canadians have similar opportunities in other countries. Examples include professional athletes, coaches or professors or students participating in exchange programs.

Entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals: Individuals from other countries who want to be self-employed or start their own business which would bring some sort of benefit to Canadian citizens are granted this permit.

Intra company transferees: International companies can send foreign employees to Canada on a temporary basis without requiring an LMIA.

French speaking skilled workers: Foreign workers who can speak French and have a job offer for a province or territory outside Quebec will not require an LMIA.

Apart from this, overseas participants of international trade agreements or international youth exchange programs are eligible for LMIA exempt work permits.

Options for tech workers

Canada has always had a high demand for tech workers. In general, tech workers have the skills and expertise that make it simple to qualify for federal and regional economic immigration programs. Specific immigration programs such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) target tech workers. The other immigration programs include:

  • Federal programs
  • Global Talent Stream
  • CUSMA Professionals
  • Intra-Company Transfer
  • PNPs

Federal programs

Express Entry programs give importance to tech workers especially certain Express Entry linked provincial streams. The recent Express Entry annual report lists tech workers as one of the three most popular occupations that received an ITA.

Global Talent Stream

Under the GTS work permits are processed within two weeks for temporary high-skilled workers.

There are two categories under the GTS.

Category A: Category A is for high-growth businesses that can show a need for highly-skilled international talent. Employers in this group must be referred to by the Global Talent Stream by a designated referral partner, which is typically a governmental or quasi-governmental agency focused on incubating or expanding businesses in a specific region.

These companies must give the reasons for the need to recruit unique specialized talent from abroad.

Category B: Employers in Category B are those seeking to recruit such highly qualified foreign workers for occupations on the Global Talent Occupations List that have been determined to be in-demand and for which domestic labor supply is inadequate. This can change from time to time, but it is currently made up of workers that fall into 12 National Occupation Classification (NOC) Codes, all of which are technological occupations.

In both cases, the employer must pay the employee a wage that is equal to the national average for the job. Employers in Category A must either directly or indirectly create employment for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Employers in Category B must commit to growing their investments in professional development and training for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Once an individual is in Canada, they can either extend their temporary status or apply for permanent residency. Many permanent immigration programs require Canadian work experience. Arriving in Canada as a tech worker is an excellent way to prepare for permanent residency.

CUSMA Professionals

Under the Canada-United-States-Mexico Agreement, citizens of the United States or Mexico with job offers in some professions may be eligible for a work permit (CUSMA). This is a special program for Canadian employers who recruit foreign workers and no Labour Market Impact Assessment is needed (LMIA).

There are 63 occupations that come under the CUSMA Professional work permit. Among them are technology occupations such as computer engineers, graphic designers, computer systems analysts, and technical publications writers.

Intra-Company Transfer

Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) is for employees who work for a company with a qualifying relationship with a Canadian firm, such as a subsidiary, affiliate, parent, or branch. Employers in Canada do not need an LMIA to hire employees through this scheme.

The foreign worker must have worked for the company for a minimum of one year. He must have either worked in a managerial role or show that they have advanced and proprietary knowledge of the business or its products. This may involve programmers and developers who created a company’s software products, as well as computer engineers who developed specific computer programs for the company.

Provincial nominee programs

The BC PNP Tech Pilot is a streamlined framework for handling applications submitted across existing channels that also meets the pilot’s unique specifications. Two of the five BC immigration streams eligible for the Tech Pilot are aligned with Express Entry while the other three are not.

The BC Tech Pilot recognizes 29 technology occupations that meet the criteria. The program sends out invites to qualified applicants once a week.

An applicant must apply for one of the five aligned programs and have a work offer in one of the 29 listed fields (for at least one year, with at least 120 days remaining at the time of application). Priority processing over other immigration applications, weekly draws, and a dedicated concierge program to assist employers are among the advantages of this pilot.

The Ontario PNP also conducts tech draws from time to time. Applicants must qualify for the Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities stream. Candidates must be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Canadian Experience Class. Applicants should have work experience in one of the following six tech occupations: computer programmers and interactive media developers; computer engineers; web designers and developers; database analysts and data administrators; and computer and information systems managers.

The province of Quebec has announced a new immigration route for jobs in the fields of artificial intelligence, information technology, and visual effects. The total number of applicants for this pilot is set at 550 per year.

 A work permit to permanent resident visa

Applicants who have applied for a PR visa and are in a job that ends before approval of the application will obtain a Bridging Open Work Permit. They will not need to be required to leave the country in the period between the expiry of their previous permit and receiving the PR status.

 A work permit visa will help you work and stay in Canada on a temporary basis. However, you can always apply for a permanent residency in the country.

If you are on a temporary work permit in Canada, there are various ways to obtain permanent residency in Canada.

Federal Skilled Worker Program

If you work on a temporary work permit with a Canadian employer and the employer has made an offer to you for permanent jobs, you might be able to apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Program for your permanent residency. Such an offer is called an arranged job. The temporary worker would have to meet the necessary criteria under the Foreign Skilled Worker Program which includes getting an educational credential assessment.

Points are awarded based on factors such as education, age, adaptability, language skills and job offer for the applicant. The process can take up to 12-18 months.

Canadian Experience Class

Temporary workers in skilled positions can apply under the Canadian Experience Class program using their work experience in Canada. This is a common choice for those temporary workers who are not reaching the points that the federal skilled worker program needs.

Applicants under the CEC must have at least 2 years of work experience in Canada or have a post-secondary degree in Canada or have 1 year of work experience. Applicants who qualify under the CEC must meet at least one of these requirements before applying for their Canadian permanent residency.

Provincial Nominee Program

In general, applicants may apply for permanent residency within a year to a year and a half under the Provincial Nominee Program. Through this program, employers nominate foreign workers for permanent residency but each program may vary across provinces. But these candidates need to be highly qualified.

Quebec Experience Class

Temporary staff can apply via the Quebec Experience Class for their permanent residency. The Quebec Experience Class (QEC) is similar to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), but additional criteria under the QEC are required.

Applicants under the QEC must have served in a professional position in Quebec for a minimum of 1 year and must speak French at an intermediate level.

PNP and CEC candidates have better fortune in the labor market of Canada because they have probably had prior work experience as temporary workers. This gives them an advantage as they are aware of expectations from Canadian employers and are prepared to fulfil them.

Prior work experience is a highly favorable factor in gaining a PR visa, it is an indication that a foreign worker will easily fit in with the needs of the Canadian labor market. More than 93 percent of PNP candidates and 95 percent of CEC candidates have prior work experience. This acts in their favor while applying for a PR visa.

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