Working temporarily in Canada

Every year, over 150,000 foreign workers enter Canada to work temporarily in jobs that help Canadian employers address skill shortages, or to work as live-in caregivers, The Work Permits program issues work permits to eligible foreign workers who wish to work temporarily in Canada, provides information on the related application process, and issues visitor records to business visitors.

Delivered by: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

Jobs that do not require a work permit

Note: If you fall into one of the categories below, you do not need a work permit.

However, if you are from a country that requires a visa to visit Canada, you must apply for a Temporary Resident Visa.

You may not need a work permit if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Athletes and coaches
  • Aviation accident or incident investigators
  • Business visitors
  • Civil aviation inspectors                                                    
  • Clergy
  • Convention organizers
  • Crew members
  • Emergency service providers
  • Examiners and evaluators
  • Expert witnesses or investigators
  • Family members of foreign representatives
  • Foreign government officers
  • Foreign representatives
  • Health-care students
  • Judges, referees and similar officials
  • Military personnel
  • News reporters, film and media crews
  • Performing artists
  • Public speakers
  • Students working on campus

Eligibility to apply from outside Canada

To apply for a work permit from outside Canada, you must submit the following documents:


  • a job offer from a Canadian employer
  • a completed application, that shows that you meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, and
  • written confirmation from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) that the employer can hire a foreign worker to fill the job. This confirmation is called a positive labour market opinion.
  • In most cases, it is up to your employer to get that written confirmation.
  • Information on the labour market opinion is found under Information for Canadian employers on the right-hand side of this page.

Eligibility Information

Applicants must meet the following requirements

  • have a valid passport or other travel document issued by their country of residence
  • be in good health (a medical exam may be required)
  • provide proof that they have sufficient funds to support their stay in Canada
  • demonstrate that their stay in Canada is temporary
  • not have a criminal record, nor be considered a security risk
  • other criteria may apply

Jobs that require a work permit but no labour market opinion

People in the following categories need a work permit but do not need a labour market opinion from Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC).

  • Workers covered under international agreements
    Professionals, traders, investors and business people coming to Canada to work under certain international agreements
  • Entrepreneurs and intra-company transferees
    Some types of entrepreneurs, workers transferring within a company, and other types of workers who will provide significant benefit to Canadians or permanent residents by working in Canada
  • Participants in exchange programs
    People whose employment in Canada will provide similar employment to Canadians abroad, such as participants in youth exchange programs, teacher exchange programs or other reciprocal programs
  • Co-op students
    Foreign students who are studying in Canada and who need to do co-op work placements as part of their program of study
  • Spouses
    Spouses and common-law partners of certain foreign workers and of certain foreign students who are currently studying or working under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program
    • Spouses of certain foreign students may obtain a work permit without having to obtain a labour market opinion from HRSDC. This exemption applies to spouses who are not themselves enrolled in full-time studies.
    • Eligibility criteria: To be allowed to work in this category, you must prove that you are the spouse of a student who holds a valid student permit and who is studying full time at a post-secondary institution—a university, a community college, a CEGEP, a technical or school of commercial studies—that is financed by the private or public sector and authorized by provincial law to award university degrees.
  • Academics and students
    Certain academics and students
  • Religious workers
    People doing charitable or religious work
  • Others
    Certain people who need to support themselves while they are in Canada for other reasons such as the refugee determination process.

What you should know

If you want to work in Canada, you must understand the following important information:

  • Your employer helps determine if you are eligible. Your employer may need to get a labour market opinion from Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC). A labour market opinion confirms that the employer can fill the job with a foreign worker. You will find more information about which jobs do not require a labour market opinion under each section on the Eligibility to apply page. You can also find out more about HRSDC labour market opinions in the Frequently asked questions .
  • To work in Canada, you must meet the general requirements for entering the country and for staying here, in addition to those for getting a work permit. This means you may need a temporary resident visa. For information on visas, go to the Visit section on the left–hand side of this page.
  • A work permit is not an immigration document. It does not allow you to live in Canada permanently. To live here permanently, you must qualify under an immigration category, such as skilled worker. Live–in caregivers can stay in Canada permanently if they meet certain requirements. For more information, go to Immigrate in the Come to Canada section on the left–hand side of this page, or go to Live-In Caregiver Program in the Related Links section at the bottom of this page.
  • If you want your spouse or common–law partner and your dependent children to come with you to Canada, they must apply to do so.


If your family members want to work in Canada

If you are authorized to work in Canada, your accompanying family members may also be able to work here by virtue of the permit you have obtained yourself. No other authorization is required. If they intend to work while in Canada, they should find out if they are eligible for an “open” work permit. Open work permits allow them to work in any job with any employer. An open work permit also means that they may be hired without the employer having to obtain a labour market opinion (the normal authorization required). Certain jobs may require medical checks or licensing from professional organizations. Their work permits will be valid for the duration of your own work permit.

Your spouse’s (and in some cases your children’s) eligibility for open work permits depends on the skill level of your job. You must also be authorized to work in Canada for at least six months. Note that open work permits for dependent children are available on a trial basis in participating provinces only. Accompanying family members must always apply for their own work permit. They should apply for one at the same time as you, before entering Canada. If they only decide to work after they arrive, they can apply once they are here.

Related Information


  • The program also issues work permits to the spouses and common-law partners of work permit and study permit holders in Canada, which enable them to work during their spouse's or partner's term of employment or studies.
  • Foreign workers in certain categories may be allowed to work temporarily in Canada without a work permit.
  • Individuals who are already legally in Canada as temporary residents (i.e. visitors, students or workers) and who wish to extend their stay in Canada, or change the conditions of their stay, must contact CIC for information on specific application requirements.