Noviembre, 2015.- The question I am asked most in my immigration practice is; how can I qualify for a work permit? They are hard to get, that is the first answer. The basic policy behind work permits in Canadian immigration law is that a foreign national who comes to Canada to work, should not take a job from a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. Only jobs which these two groups of people don’t want to do, or can’t fill because the number of positions exceeds the number of potential workers who are available for the job, will be available and accessible for foreign nationals. Finding work no Canadian is qualified for sounds a lot harder than it is, as there are a number of positions which traditionally are filled by people coming from outside of Canada, and there simply are not enough people to do the work in the country. The type of work that is more often than not undertaken by foreign nationals includes work such as being a live in care giver to children or the elderly; or farm workers, persons who arrive every summer to do the work on farms that more local workers don’t care for. There are large numbers of personal support workers in Canada who can care for children or the elderly, but not many of them who want to give up their homes to live in someone else’s home. With the right background and experience, obtaining a work permit for a live in care giver is not that difficult.

In addition, nationals of the United States and Mexico with the right experience, can also qualify and be granted work permits right at the border! The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) permits persons with a valid job offer from a Canadian business the right to obtain work permits. Not all jobs qualify for NAFTA work permits, however.  Professional jobs in fields such as accounting, engineering, hotel management, dentistry, medicine and some other 60 fields are recognized. A person with a qualifying employment offer in one of these professions can either apply through the Canadian visa office servicing their home country or attend in person at any Canadian border office and apply for a work permit.  Unlike many other immigration processes, NAFTA work permits can be issued on the same day as the application is made.

If NAFTA does not apply, an intra-company work permit may be another option. The intra-company category was created to permit international companies to temporarily transfer qualified employees to Canada for the purpose of improving management effectiveness, expanding Canadian exports, and enhancing the competitiveness of Canadian entities in overseas markets. The prospective transferee must be employed by a multi-national company and be seeking entry to work in a parent,subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of that enterprise; are being transferred to a position in a Executive, Senior Managerial, or Specialized Knowledge capacity; and  have been employed continuously by the company that plans to transfer him or her, outside Canada in a similar full-time position for at least one year in the three-year period immediately preceding the date of initial application.

In addition, if none of the above is applicable, a work permit may be available for a person who is seeking employment in Canada in a position for which no Canadian or permanent resident can be found. Obtaining this type of work permit is a two-step process. In the first step, the prospective employer must demonstrate that they advertised for the position and could not find anyone suitable, other than the foreign national applicant. To prove this, an employer must advertise the position in three different publications or on line services with national scope for at least 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, the employer may then apply for a document called a Labour Market Impact Analysis (LMIA), through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). An ESDC analyst at Service Canada will want to see that the company has advertised as required and that those who applied from within Canada genuinely did not match the qualifications of the position. In addition, the employer must also demonstrate how they intend to transition into the position being filled by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident in the future, through, for example training programs within the company. Obtaining an approved LMIA is not easy, but once obtained, a foreign national may then be granted a work permit.

Foreign nationals awaiting spousal sponsorship applications are now immediately eligible for work permits. In the past, this eligibility only commenced once the application had been approved at the first stage. However, effective December 22, 2014, Canada Immigration announced a pilot program to operate for 1 year and designed to issue open work permits to certain spouses and common law partner in Canada class applicants before the approval in principle decision is made. These work permits are taking anywhere from 4 to 6 months to be issued.

Work permits are issued by Canada Immigration to fill vacancies in the Canadian economy and to help that economy grow and prosper. Not everyone is eligible for a work permit, but there is enough flexibility in the program to consider trying to obtain one.

Ronald Poulton (Barrister & Solicitor)




Work Permits! Work Permits! Work Permits!

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