Can I work in Canada after I make a refugee claim?

If you're not a or Canadian citizen, you need a work permit to be able to work legally in Canada.

If you've made a refugee claim in Canada and are found eligible to make a refugee claim, you can apply for an open work permit and a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada.

Open work permit

An open work permit means that you don't need a job offer to apply for the work permit and you can work for any employer. But you can't work for an employer in a business where you could be at risk of sexual exploitation. And you must follow the conditions of your work permit.

You can apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for an open work permit:

  • at the same time you complete your refugee claim forms, or
  • after you make your refugee claim

You must have an Immigration Medical Exam (IME) before your application can be approved. If you have a medical condition, you may be asked to do more medical testing before you can get a work permit.

If you're approved for an open work permit, you can apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) through Service Canada.

Who else can apply?

You can also apply for an open work permit if:

  • you're eligible for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA)
  • your refugee claim is rejected or your PRRA is refused and:
    • you're appealing the decision, or
    • your can't be enforced because you can't get a travel document or Canada is not removing people to your country at this time
  • your refugee claim is accepted and you've applied for permanent residence  
  • your is approved at the first stage


You don't have to pay to apply for an open work permit if:

  • you're a refugee claimant waiting for your hearing or for a decision after your hearing, or
  • you've had your refugee hearing and have been accepted as a .

All others have to pay to apply. You can check the current fee list and the list of fee exemptions.

Get help

Some settlement agencies can help you apply for an open work permit and a SIN. Find your local settlement agency for more information and help.

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