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Work Permits


If you are neither a citizen nor permanent resident of Canada, your ability to secure a job and be employed in Canada largely depends on whether you have obtained the necessary work permit. A work permit authorizes you to work in Canada. Usually, the first step towards obtaining a work permit is receiving a genuine offer of employment from a Canadian employer which in normal circumstances must first be approved by the Canadian government. In that regard, a Labour Market Opinion or “LMO” must normally be obtained by the employer from the government to prove that the hiring of a foreign worker will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labour force. This offer must be in writing and must receive this approval and then must be submitted along with your application for a work permit along with all other necessary documentation. There are exceptions to this rule such as those people who qualify under NAFTA, emergency repair personnel or those being transferred to work for Canadian companies (“intra-company transferees”) but typically, an employer will first need to obtain the “LMO” to support your work permit application. If you need assistance in securing a work permit or have questions about your ability to legally work in Canada, the experienced immigration lawyers at Butkowsky Immigration Law can help you through every step of the process so you can pursue your Canadian career opportunities.

What is a Work Permit?

A work permit is a document issued by the department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), which allows a foreign citizen to work in Canada at a specific job during a certain length of time. A work permit is typically specific and issued for a specific employer. Although in some instances, an “Open” work permit may be issued. Canadian law defines “work” as an activity which results in financial gain for the individual or competes directly with the activities of Canadian citizens. Although a few exceptions apply, the vast majority of jobs will require foreign nationals to get a work permit.

What is the Process for Getting a Work Permit?

Work permit applications can normally be applied for at a Canadian visa office and in some instances, at a Canadian port of entry. However, before submitting a work permit application, unless you are exempt, you must have a genuine offer of employment or “LMO” from a Canadian employer. In certain situations, you may qualify for an “open work permit,” which does not require an employment offer. However, this only pertains to unique circumstances such as destitute students in Canada, asylum seekers, spouses of current work permit holders or students applying post-graduation.

The application process for a work permit may take up to several weeks or longer to complete, so it is important to get started as soon as possible. The time frame largely depends on your specific circumstances, such as your home country restrictions, whether a medical examination is required, and the amount of work permit applications pending at the visa office where you submitted your application.

Work permits last a specific period of time depending on the length of your project and the category of permit you applied for. If your position changes or you are offered a job with a different employer in Canada, you will need to apply for a new work permit and your employer will likely need to obtain a new “LMO”. However, holders of open work permits are able to change jobs without reapplying for a new work permit but again, these types of permits are rare.

If your career goals include employment in Canada, contact Butkowsky Immigration Law in Toronto. With over 20 years of experience, immigration lawyer Larry Butkowsky can advise you on the necessary documentation and assist you with every step of the process.


Larry Butkowsky and his legal team are ready and available to assist you and your family in achieving your immigration goals. The firm focuses exclusively on immigration and refugee law, and represents clients who wish to become permanent residents or citizens, as well as those seeking temporary entry or short-term residence in Canada for work or educational purposes. Larry also helps those seeking refugee protection. Larry can assist clients with every step of the immigration process, from determining which immigration avenue is right for you to completing applications and paperwork to helping you prepare for interviews. Larry also advocates for his clients in immigration litigation, including appeals, judicial reviews, hearings, and deportation proceedings. With more than two decades of experience, Larry Butkowsky has earned the respect of the Toronto legal community and the gratitude of many satisfied clients. He is committed to protecting his clients’ rights and making sure that the immigration and transition to Canadian life is a smooth one. His firm is located at 41 Madison Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5R 2S2, or he may be reached by calling (416) 979-2127.

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