Visitors to Canada on a tourist visa can now apply for a work permit from within Canada without having to leave the country first. To convert a visitor visa to a work permit, you need to follow these key steps:
- Search for and secure a valid job offer from an LMIA-approved Canadian employer.
- Apply for an LMIA from your employer to show there are no Canadians available for the role.
- Once approved, apply for a work permit online and submit all required documents.
- Wait for your work permit to be issued so you can legally work in Canada.
The whole process takes time so start your job search as soon as possible. Work closely with your employer and immigration consultant to ensure you meet all requirements.
Canada is actively looking for skilled foreign workers to help address labor shortages. To make it easier, Canada now allows visitors on tourist visas to apply for work permits from within the country until February 2025.
This provides an excellent opportunity to convert your Canadian visitor visa into a work permit without having to leave Canada. However, the process requires careful planning and preparation.
Step 1: Search for a Qualifying Job Offer
The first step is securing a qualifying job offer from an employer who can sponsor your work permit. Not all jobs allow this pathway so focus on:
- LMIA-approved employers: These businesses have received a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) demonstrating no Canadian workers are available for the role. Most positions must be LMIA-approved to hire foreign nationals.
- High-demand occupations: Jobs like healthcare, engineering, IT, and trades are more likely to have work permits available.
- Employers familiar with the process: Look for larger companies with immigration lawyers or consultants to handle the paperwork.
- Proof of funds: Employers want to see you can support yourself in Canada until you receive your first paycheck.
- Networking: Leverage your professional network and attend industry events to make local connections.
Spend time researching employers, polishing your resume, practicing interviews, and networking. With the right preparations, you can land the perfect job in Canada!
💡 Pro Tip: Working with an immigration consultant or recruiter can help connect you to employers looking to hire foreign talent.
Step 2: Secure a Positive LMIA
Once you have a job offer, your employer must apply for a LMIA to prove no Canadian worker is available for the role.
- The LMIA application requires details on the job, your qualifications, recruitment efforts, and market wage rates.
- Processing times range from 10 business days to over 6 months depending on the occupation. Premium processing can expedite the application.
- If approved, your employer will receive a positive LMIA confirming the job offer meets program requirements.
To boost LMIA approval chances:
- Provide detailed evidence of your qualifications and fit for the role.
- Make sure the wage offered aligns with Canadian market rates.
- Work cooperatively with your employer or their immigration counsel.
A positive LMIA is crucial for the next step of applying for your work permit from within Canada.
Step 3: Submit Your Work Permit Application
With a LMIA-backed job offer, you are now eligible to apply for your work permit from within Canada.
To submit your application:
- Gather all required documents including your passport, proof of funds, job offer letter, LMIA, and processing fees.
- Complete the online work permit application form on the IRCC website.
- Pay the CAD $155 work permit fee and $85 biometrics fee. Add $200 for priority processing.
- Mail your application to the designated IRCC office for processing. Include your LMIA number and temporary resident number.
You can consult an immigration lawyer or consultant to assist with your application. Their expertise can help maximize approval chances.
💡 Editor’s Note: Make sure to apply for the right work permit program and properly complete all forms to avoid processing delays or refusal.
Step 4: Wait for Your Work Permit Approval
Once you submit your complete application, all you can do is wait for IRCC to process your work permit.
- Standard processing takes around 2-3 months but can vary significantly based on the visa office.
- You will receive either an approval or a refusal letter in the mail. Approvals are issued electronically as eTAs.
- If approved, review your work permit carefully to ensure all details like your employer, location, validity period are correct.
- You cannot legally work in Canada until you receive the work permit!
You can apply for Work Permit Online as well, on the Canada CIC website.
While waiting, refrain from making major purchases or arrangements. Get ready to begin your new life in Canada if approved!
💡 Pro Tip: Avoid errors and speed up processing by using an authorized representative like an immigration lawyer to submit your application.
Work Permit Application Tips
Here are some additional tips for a smooth work permit application process:
- Submit a complete application: Provide all required documents and forms accurately and thoroughly completed to avoid refusals or RFPs.
- Renew before expiry: Apply for renewal at least 3 months before your work permit expires so you can keep working past the expiry date.
- Bring dependents: Add your spouse and dependent children when applying if they will join you in Canada.
- Extend your stay: Apply for extensions or permanent residence from within Canada so you don’t have to leave.
- Travel freely: Your work permit allows you to freely enter and exit Canada. Bring your work permit each trip.
- Change jobs: You can change employers if you get a new LMIA-backed job offer. Notify IRCC of any changes.
Following these best practices will set you up for work permit success!
Alternative Options to Get a Canadian Work Permit
For those unable to secure an LMIA-backed job offer, consider these alternative work permit pathways:
- International Experience Canada: Offers work permits through working holiday, young professional and co-op programs for eligible applicants.
- Study permit: Allows students enrolled full-time at eligible Canadian schools to work part-time on/off-campus.
- Spousal sponsorship: Spouses of Canadian citizens/PRs can apply for an open work permit while their application is in process.
- NAFTA/USMCA professionals: Fast-track work permits for US and Mexican citizens in qualifying professions like engineering, science, law.
- Significant benefit: Work permits for high-skilled workers who provide significant social, economic, or cultural benefit to Canada.
Some categories allow online applications to further ease the process. Talk to an advisor to determine your eligibility.
Converting a Canada visitor visa into a work permit offers an exciting opportunity to live and work in an amazing country. While the process takes time and effort, the rewards are well worth it.
Use this guide to help maneuver each step successfully. With determination and patience, your Canadian dream can become a reality.
The key is starting early – secure that LMIA-backed job offer as soon as possible. Employers want to see you are serious and committed to joining their team.
So get researching employers, update your resume, practice your interview skills and get networking! You could soon be embarking on an incredible adventure North of the Border.
Good luck converting your visitor visa into your Canadian work permit!