Canada is one of the United States' most important economic partners. Home to one of the best public education systems in the world, Canada is a booming talent hub across all industries, including tech, financial services, healthcare, and agriculture. Despite being a relatively small country by population, Canada's GDP is approaching $2 trillion. Companies looking to expand globally can hire top Canadian talent by partnering with an EOR service like Via.
Foreigners looking to work and live in Canada will need to have both a Canada Work Visa and a Canada Work Permit.
Here’s a look at what employees and employers need to know about the application process for immigrants, expats, and others looking to continue their careers in Canada.
A Canada Work Visa allows you to travel to and legally enter Canada. To work or study in Canada, you will also need a Canadian work permit.
When applying for a Canada Work Visa, you will need to meet the following requirements:
Have a valid passport
Be in good health
Demonstrate intention to leave Canada upon visa expiration, usually through a plane ticket
Prove ability to financially provide for yourself during your stay
Present a medical exam and/or a letter of invitation from a resident of Canada
A Canada work permit enables you to work or study in Canada but doesn’t necessarily allow you to enter the country. Canada work permits may include restrictions or conditions regarding where you can work or study.
Almost everyone seeking employment in Canada who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident will need a Canada Work Permit.
First, you must receive a job offer from an employer; then, you can apply for a Canada Work Permit with the IRCC, or the government department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
To apply for a work permit in Canada, you will need to provide the the following documents:
A valid passport and two recent passport-sized photos
Qualifying certification of education
Proof of professional qualifications, work experience, and financial stability
A medical examination report (if requested)
Citizens of certain countries, like India, will need to provide additional documentation when applying for work visas and permits in Canada.
There are two main types of work permits in Canada: open and employer-specific.
Open work permit
Employer-specific work permit
Allows you to work for any employer in Canada without a job offer. Usually available for temporary foreign workers and their spouses.
Tied to a specific employment position. The role and your employer must match your job offer to the information on your work permit application. If you change roles or companies, you have to reapply for a new permit.
Depending on the circumstance, you may qualify for a Canada Work Permit Exemption. Examples include:
Foreign representatives, their spouses, and/or family members
Athletes, referees, and other sports professionals
News reporters/media crews
Beginning in January 2023, new rules have gone into effect related to granting work permits for spouses in Canada.
Due to labor shortages, spouses, common-law partners, and working age dependents of all skill levels are eligible to apply for a work permit. Before, only spouses of highly-skilled foreign workers were eligible to apply.
This measure is expected to grant work eligibility to over 200,000 foreign workers who previously didn’t qualify to live and work with their spouses in Canada.
Canada has 2 new work permits pending approval in 2023: a digital nomad visa and a work permit for H-1B visa holders in the US.
Canada is currently creating a digital nomad visa that will allow foreigners to work and live in Canada while being remotely employed by a foreign company. This visa will be valid for 6 months.
The new Canadian digital nomad visa will be targeted towards tech workers, but almost anyone who meets the requirements will be able to apply. The salary threshold for this digital nomad visa will be at least $8,000 CAD.
The Canadian government plans to launch this digital nomad visa scheme in late 2023.
Beginning on July 16th, 2023, H-1B visa holders for specialty occupations in the US will be able to apply for a streamlined open work permit that allows them to stay in Canada for 3 years.
Approved applicants will be able to apply and work for almost any employer in Canada. They are eligible to bring along their spouse and family members.
The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship of Canada (IRCC) believes that by creating this visa, there will be more mobility in the tech realm between the countries in North America.
Applications for this open work permit will close after the IRCC receives 10,000 applications.
After 10,000 applications, the Canadian Government plans to launch a new Innovation Stream program by the end of 2023. These changes will give H-1B visa holders an exemption from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process to help employers and talented workers priority for work permits in tech industries.
For this innovation stream, the IRCC is considering these options for future work permits:
Employer-specific work permits for up to 5 years for workers of companies identified by the Canadian government as contributing to an industrial innovation goal
Open work permits up to 5 years for highly skilled workers in certain in-demand industries
Most Canadian work permits are valid for 1-2 years, and non-Canadians citizens are allowed to work in Canada on a visa for a total of 48 months.
If you’re looking to work in Canada for longer than 4 years, consider applying for permanent resident status.
When it comes time to extend or change the conditions of your Canada Work Permit, you must complete an additional application. If you apply for an extension or change before your permit expires, you can remain in Canada and continue working while your application is in process.
If your work permit expires before reapplying, you must stop working in Canada.
Before taking a job offer in Canada, it would be wise to make sure that your employer is compliant. Your employer must comply with Canada’s rules and regulations regarding hiring TFWs.
Even as an employee, it’s still good to be familiar with employer requirements to make sure that you are being compensated fairly for your work.
As a foreigner, you’ve got some solid resources for finding a job in Canada. You can use a hiring and recruiting service, search job posting sites like Indeed.com for Canada, and explore Canada’s Job Bank.
Another item to keep in mind is language training. Is English your first language? If you’re working in Quebec, are you semi-fluent in French? Test your proficiency by taking an online self-assessment language test.
For Canadian employers to permanently hire a foreign worker, the employee must apply for permanent residence in Canada; otherwise, they are limited to working for only four years.
To hire a TFW, you must make a job offer and apply for a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
Consult local lawyers and tax professionals to ensure you are compliant with all rules and regulations associated with your province.
If your business does not currently have an entity in Canada, you have a few options. First, you can explore setting up a Canadian subsidiary. Another option is partnering with an employer-of-record (EOR) service like Via to circumvent any potential issues or delays with hiring temporary foreign contractors.
Hiring an intern or contractor depends on the employee’s status. Are they a permanent resident of Canada or a non-Canadian resident?
If you’re a Canadian company looking to hire an intern who is a resident of a foreign country for a limited period of time, like 3 months, you can partner with a service like Via to pay the employee as a contractor. This will allow you to pay contractors in their local currency.
All employers must remain compliant with Canada’s rules and regulations when hiring foreign workers. If you don’t comply, your business will face hefty penalties, and even a possible ban from doing business in the country.
If your business cannot establish an entity or subsidiary in Canada due to limited resources, you may require the help of an EOR service like Via. An EOR manages all administrative processes, including the application process for work visas and permits.
Companies of all sizes want to hire employees in Canada, but don’t know how to navigate the country’s local labor laws. Via makes hiring Canadian talent and building your global team seamless. With our easy-to-use platform, Via helps you manage local HR processes for direct employment such as benefits, payroll, background checks, and more. Our team of local labor lawyers and on-the-ground experts ensure that your company remains compliant while expanding abroad. As your employer-of-record/entity in Canada, Via assumes full responsibility for employment liability, so that you can focus on what matters: recruiting and managing your team.
With Via’s transparent pricing, you can pay full-time employees or contractors in Canada with no hidden set-up fees, no foreign exchange or transaction fees, and no minimums–start with 1 employee and scale up at your own pace.