Work in Canada

Despite what many people think, being a European or American citizen or receiving a job offer from a Canadian company does not automatically grant you a work permit. However, some exceptions may apply.

1. Work Permit

To apply for a regular work permit in Canada you must have a job offer from a Canadian employer (exceptions apply for graduates of Canadian colleges and others).

Depending on the specifics of your case, you can apply for a work permit 1) from outside Canada, 2) from inside Canada or 3) upon entering Canada. In all three cases you will need:
  • a job offer from a Canadian employer;
  • written confirmation from Human Resources & Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) that your employer can hire a foreign worker to fill the job (a positive LMIA - Labour Market Impact Assessment).
  • other, per your specific circumstances.
Note: there are jobs that don’t require an LMIA but this is the exception.

2. Spousal Work Permit

As Canada sees the need to ensure that families are together, this visa has been created to allow spouses or partners of people working or studying in Canada to have their spouse or partner with them in Canada and the ability to work.

This is open work permit generally granted for up to 2 years to the spouse where the holder of the permit can work for any employer or in any profession (unless it is regulated) without having to go through the process of getting approvals for a particular job.

This is an excellent opportunity for the person who is accompanying their spouse or partner in Canada to gain valuable Canadian work experience while helping with the household finances and not being separated from their family.


1Who is allowed to work in Canada?
Students admitted to a college, university and/or vocational training program are allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session and up to 40 hours per week during scheduled breaks. This does not include students enrolled in ESL or FSL programs. Additionally, permanent residents and Canadian citizens are allowed to work in Canada without restrictions.

Foreign nationals who hold a valid work permit are also allowed to work in Canada.
2Who is not allowed to work in Canada?
Europeans and Americans are not allowed to work in Canada based on their nationalities alone. They need to have a work permit to legally work in this country. Also, since January 2015 students who are enrolled in language courses (ESL and FSL) are not allowed to legally work in Canada.

Prospective employees who have a job offer from a Canadian company must still have a positive LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment), otherwise it is not possible to receive a work permit.

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