I frequently get asked by job seekers all over the world, as to how they go about getting a work permit for Canada, and how easy is it to get a work permit. I approached Ryan Rosenberg, who is an excellent immigration lawyer who helped us in our move to Canada from South Africa.

His comments are as follows :

Generally speaking, work permits are very easy and/or very complicated to obtain. Huh? Here’s why. Work permits fall into two general categories, those requiring Labour Market Opinions (“LMO”) and those that are exempt from that process. An LMO is a bureaucratic decision that hiring a foreign national will either cause a neutral or positive effect on the Canadian labour market. Obtaining an LMO can be complicated in some cases and almost always requires the employer to advertise the subject position and to offer a competitive wage and generally accepted working conditions. Once an LMO Is issued to an employer their candidate can then apply for a work permit.

It is almost always preferable to avoid the LMO process and to rely on an exemption from the bureaucratic decision. There are literally dozens and dozens of LMO exemptions under current law and policy and the trick is to find the best fit for a given circumstance. For example, exemptions are found in various trade agreements (like the NAFTA, for example), for intra-company transfers (executives, senior managers and those with specialized knowledge), for provincial nominees, for spouses of skilled workers, for recent graduates, and on and on. If an LMO exemption is available, a candidate can apply for a work permit straight away.

The second major distinction on the easy/complicated continuum is whether or not the candidate requires a visa. Generally speaking, candidates from countries who require a visa to travel to Canada must submit their work permit applications prior to arriving in Canada at either a Canadian consulate or embassy outside of Canada. That application process can be onerous and take from a few days to several months to process. If a candidate does not require a visa, with some exceptions, that candidate can file a work permit application at the border, upon entry into Canada.

So, to answer the question, it really depends on the person asking it. A candidate who is both visa exempt and LMO exempt can obtain a work permit quite readily, but a visa and LMO requiring applicant could take several months. In looking at the diagram below note that the bigger the circle, the more difficult it is to obtain a work permit.

Ryan N. Rosenberg, is a Vancouver based immigration lawyer and managing partner of Larlee Rosenberg, Barristers & solicitors in Vancouver. You can reach Ryan by phone at 604-681-9887 or visit his website at www.larlee.com.

5 Responses to “How difficult is it to get a Canadian Work Permit?”

  1. j.rama murthy

    dear susa

    try me a job of mining engineer in african countries

    how to send C.V. to you

    thank you


    • Susan Kihn

      Hi Rama, I would suggest you register and post your resume onto CareerMine, we have around 40 000 mining jobs worldwide on the site.That way your resume will be visible to the recruiters on our site. Good luck!!

  2. Denver Govender

    Hi there my name is Denver im a dent technician I’ve been hail chaser for 8 years now and would like to know how i would go about applying for a visa or what type of visa i could apply for? as i would really love to work in Canada maybe later this year! heard you have some big storms there. look forward to your reply.


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