1. Find out if you need a work permit

In most cases, you need a work permit to work in Canada if you're not a or Canadian citizen. There are some exceptions. For example, most students, athletes, and performing artists may not need a permit. The Government of Canada has an online tool to help you find out if you need a work permit.

Usually, you must apply for a work permit before you come to Canada. But some people can apply from inside Canada, such as students, sponsored spouses, or people who need to extend an existing work permit.

Kinds of work permits

There are two kinds of work permits:

  • open work permits that allow you to work for any employer
  • closed work permits, or employer-specific work permits, that allow you to work for one employer

Only some people are allowed to have open work permits. Some examples are refugee claimants, people with visas, and people who have applied for permanent residence.

If you have made a refugee claim and you want to know about working in Canada, see Can I work in Canada after I make a refugee claim?

If you don't qualify for an open work permit, you can apply for an employer-specific permit. Before you apply, you must find an employer willing to hire you. The employer must complete several steps before you can apply. For example, they might have to prove that they can't get Canadian workers to do the work before they can get a work permit for you.

Temporary residents

If you're in Canada on a , getting a work permit or renewing your work permit does not automatically renew your status. You must apply for an extension separately.

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