Work in Canada

Understanding the Basics of Canadian Work Permits

The work permit program is carefully crafted to ensure that a foreign national's work in Canada will benefit the economy and the Canadian labour market.

Canada uses both a bottom-up business-initiated approach through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and a top-down government-initiated approach through the International Mobility Program (IMP) to achieve these objectives:

TFWP Work Permits: Under this program a Canadian employer is given the ability to hire a foreign worker for almost any occupation - but only if the Canadian employer can first prove that there is a shortage in the labour market which is preventing them from filling the position locally. Examples of TFWP work permits include High-Wage LMIA work permits, Caregiver work permits and Agricultural work permits.

IMP Work Permits: Under this program the government has created special work permit categories that they believe will benefit Canadians and the economy as a whole. Eligibility for IMP work permits is often based on occupation, immigration status, nationality or an international trade treaty. Examples of IMP work permits include Post-Graduation work permits, NAFTA Professional work permits, Intra-Company Transferee work permits or Investor work permits.

Securing a Work Permit Approval

From the perspective of a business or an institution the biggest challenge when navigating the work permit landscape is determining the correct work permit category to bring foreign talent to Canada.

Once this issue is resolved the next biggest challenge for employers is the preparation and submission of documents which establish:

  • Business Genuineness: The business is actively providing goods or services to the public or will be in the near future.

  • Employment Offer Genuineness: The business is capable of fulfilling the terms of the job offer – e.g., they have enough revenue to cover the worker’s salary – as well as the business’ genuine need for the worker.

On the applicant side of things the biggest challenge is often finding a business or institutional party which is willing to sponsor the work permit application.

Once this issue is resolved the next biggest challenge for an applicant is getting the work permit approved – about 15% of work permit applications are refused each year.

Common reasons for work permit refusals include the following:

  • Incomplete Applications: If a work permit application is missing mandatory documents, forms or signatures then it will be refused for incompleteness. A Visa Officer will rarely request missing materials or an interview during processing; they simply don’t have the time or resources to do so.

  • Failure to Establish Ability to Perform the Work: Certain work permit categories require an applicant to prove that they have the required work experience, education or other skills to perform the work in Canada.

  • Failure to Establish that You Will Leave Canada: The regulations require a work permit applicant to prove they will leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay. Officers consider a wide variety of risk factors in this evaluation including your overall profile and your individual circumstances.

Countries that Submit the Most Work Permits Refusal Rate
India 42%
China 16%
United States 3%
Philippines 21%
Brazil 19%
France 5%
Province or Territory of Destination Refusal Rate
Ontario 7%
Northwest Territories 38%
Quebec 4%
British Columbia 13%
Alberta 20%
New Brunswick 9%
Newfoundland & Labrador 11%
Saskatchewan 19%
Manitoba 17%
Prince Edward Island 10%
Nova Scotia 7%
Nunavut 17%
Yukon 8%

Solutions from Jakabek Immigration Law


The goal of a work permit consultation is to determine if a pathway to a work permit is available. We start by assessing your individual profile against the eligibility requirements of various work permit categories. If multiple pathways are available then we will determine the best one, if no pathway is available then we will explore the steps you can take to become eligible.

A Custom Plan that Works:

Our process starts with a 2-hour information collection interview - the collected information will then be used to develop a strategy tailored to your circumstances along with a custom checklist of documents and forms for your application. Once the documents and forms are collected a lawyer will review the materials for mistakes and will work with you to make any necessary corrections.

Supporting Arguments from a Lawyer:

A lawyer will then draft a custom representative’s letter that uses laws, regulations and government policies to argue in favour of approval; the letter will also proactively address weak points and highlight the strong points of your work permit application. Additional supporting documents may also be drafted by a lawyer depending on the work permit category.