The COVID pandemic brought about many changes related to global travel, and the decreased ability to cross international borders impacted significantly Canadian immigration processes. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada introduced many changes to its policies during that time period, in an effort to address some of the issues created by the inability to cross borders.
Can Visitors Work In Canada?
One of the COVID related changes introduced for Canadian immigration was the ability for visitors inside Canada to apply for a work permit. This temporary policy has recently been extended until February 2025. Of all the new public policies introduced during the pandemic, the ability to change from a visitor to a worker is the one that has caused the most confusion among the general public. In this article, we want to address the common misconceptions and explain what this policy accomplishes, and why.
What Does Work Permit from Inside Canada Mean?
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations set out who can apply for a work permit from inside Canada – generally speaking, it is those who already have a work permit or a study permit for Canada. Under usual circumstances, those with visitor status in Canada needed to apply for a work permit from outside of the country – which could either mean a US visa post or the visa post that serves their home country. It is important to be clear about what it means to apply from inside of Canada or from outside of Canada. The terms do not only refer to the location of the individual. Applying from inside Canada means that the individual is present inside Canada and is applying to CPC Edmonton for a change in their status. Applying from outside Canada means that the application will be processed at a visa office outside of Canada. This type of application can be submitted whether the person is present inside or outside of Canada.
Apply Work Permit Inside Canada
As we have already established, a new policy was introduced during the pandemic that enables visitors inside Canada to apply for a work permit from inside the country. To understand the effect of this change in policy, it’s important to understand the process behind both types of work permit applications – inside and outside.
The process to apply for a work permit inside Canada is to submit an Application to Change Terms and Conditions (IMM 5710). This type of application will be processed in Edmonton and if approved, a paper work permit will be mailed to the address indicated on the application form. As part of this application process, the applicant needs to show that they currently have valid temporary resident status in Canada. If you have family members accompanying you inside Canada, ensure that you also submit an application to extend their stay while you work temporarily in Canada.
The process to apply for a work permit from outside of Canada is to submit the IMM 1295 Application for Work Permit Made Outside of Canada. The application will be processed in one of the following locations: the visa office responsible for the applicant’s current country of residence, the visa office responsible for the applicant’s country of origin, or a US visa office if the applicant has valid temporary resident status inside Canada. If the application is approved, the applicant will receive a work permit approval letter from IRCC and they will need to travel to one of Canada’s borders (land or airport) in order to receive the paper work permit.
The change allowing visitors inside of Canada to apply for a work permit was made because the borders were closed to this sort of traffic during the pandemic. Canada preferred to simply mail the approved work permit to applicants in the country rather than have them travelling to land borders when such travel was discouraged.
This is the biggest change of the policy that allows visitors to apply for work permits. The work permit is mailed to the applicant inside of Canada instead of being printed at the port of entry. The policy does not enable visitors to simply work in Canada, as is commonly assumed.
Eligibility Criteria to Change Visitor to Work Permit Canada
Anyone wishing to change from visitor status to a valid work permit needs a valid job offer from a Canadian employer. This is always the most difficult part of obtaining an employer specific work permit in Canada and nothing about this changes with the new policy.
In most cases, the Canadian employer will need to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in order to hire a foreign national, and that includes those foreign nationals who want to change from a visitor to a temporary foreign worker. To obtain an LMIA, the employer first needs to advertise the position locally for 4 weeks, and then submit an application to Service Canada asking for approval to hire a temporary foreign worker. The overall LMIA process takes approximately 3 months and the visitor will not be able to apply for a work permit until the LMIA has been approved. It’s important to pay attention to the expiry of your temporary status in Canada during this time, and submit an extension of your visitor status if needed to maintain valid status until you can apply for the work permit.
If you hope to have the work permit approved, you will need to show that you are qualified for the job being offered to you. A Labour Market Impact Assessment application includes specific details like the minimum education requirements, language abilities and how much prior work experience is required for the job. Your work permit application will have to include supporting documents that prove you meet the criteria specified in the LMIA.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Work Permit from Inside Canada?
The processing time for inland work permits has remained pretty consistent at 5 months for the past couple of years (2021-2023). As a visitor, you will not be permitted to work in Canada until your work permit is actually issued – meaning you need to be able to support yourself in Canada for approximately 8 months past the date you receive a jog offer from a Canadian employer. This is the time it takes to obtain a positive LMIA and work permit approval. There is no policy that allows visitors to obtain interim work authorization, unless you recently had a work permit and changed to visitor status when the work permit expired.
It may actually be faster to leave Canada and return to your country of origin to have the work permit processed. The processing times at Canadian visa posts vary from one location to another, and it is possible to check processing times online.
Although many overseas visas posts are much faster than 5 months when it comes to work permit processing, it would be a good idea to check with your Canadian employer to ask when they need you to start work, and also to consider whether or not they are responsible to pay for your airfare (low skilled positions). If they need to pay your airfare and you return overseas, they may not be happy with you.
The Way Immigration is very familiar with the work permit process – both inside Canada and overseas. We also regularly process Labour Market Impact Assessments for Canadian employers. If you have a job offer from a Canadian employer, please contact our office today to get started on the processes needed so that you can start working in Canada ASAP!