I have a visitor Status in Canada can I apply for a work permit in Canada?


A lot of people contact us and ask us if they can apply for a work permit with their visitor visa or their visitor record.

The answer is not as straight forward seeing that there are various factor’s that must be considered such as the country of citizenship and whether or not they have a family member in Canada with status in Canada either temporary (work, study, work permit exempt, temporary resident permit, Permanent resident).

The general rule is that a foreign national must apply for a work permit before entering Canada (R. 197 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations). However, some foreign nationals may apply for a work permit when entering Canada (at the border) if the foreign national is exempt from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa (R. 198 (1)  of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations).  For a list of foreign nationals who are exempt from a temporary resident visa see R 190 of Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, they include:

  • citizens of Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland;
  • British citizens,
  • British overseas citizens who is re-admissible to the United Kingdom, or
  • Citizens of a British overseas territory who derives that citizenship through birth, descent, naturalization or registration in one of the British Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island, Saint Helena or Turks and Caicos Islands; and
  • Nationals of the United States or a person who has been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.

Foreign Nationals may not apply after entering Canada despite being exempt from the requirement of holding a temporary resident Visa (R.198 (2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations) if they:

  • do not have a valid job offer (LMIA); or
  • if they are not from the United States or residents of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon; or
  • are a foreign national who require a medical certificate and do not have said certificate; or
  • are participants in an international youth exchange program, unless they are a national or permanent resident of the United States or their application for a work permit was approved before their entry into Canada

A Foreign national may apply for a work permit in Canada pursuant to R. 199  of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations if they:

(a) hold a work permit;

(b) are working in Canada under the authority of section 186 (are work permit exempt) and are not a business visitor within the meaning of section 187;

(c) hold a study permit;

(d) hold a temporary resident permit issued under subsection 24(1) of the Act that is valid for at least six months;

(e) are a family member of a person who holds a work permit, study permit, is exempt from a work permit or hold a TRP;

(f) are in a situation described in section 206 or 207, the foreign national:

  • has made a claim for refugee protection that has been referred to the Refugee Protection Division but has not been determined; or
  • is subject to an unenforceable removal order; or
  • is a member of the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class
  • is a protected person within the meaning of subsection 95(2) of the Act;
  • has applied to become a permanent resident and the Minister has granted them an exemption under subsection 25(1), 25.1(1) or 25.2(1) of the Act; or;
  • is a family member of a person described in any of paragraphs (a) to (d).

(g) applied for a work permit before entering Canada and the application was approved in writing but they have not been issued the permit;

(h) are applying as a trader or investor, intra-company transferee or professional, as described in Section B, C or D of Annex 1603 of the Agreement, within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, and their country of citizenship — being a country party to that Agreement — grants to Canadian citizens who submit a similar application within that country treatment equivalent to that accorded by Canada to citizens of that country who submit an application within Canada, including treatment in respect of an authorization for multiple entries based on a single application; or

(i) hold a written statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade stating that it has no objection to the foreign national working at a foreign mission in Canada.

As you can see although there are some exemptions that allows a person to apply for a work permit in Canada in general most people have to apply from outside of Canada. The fact that a person has a visitor visa or a visitor record does not necessarily mean that they can apply for a work permit after entering Canada,

If you are contemplating coming to Canada and are unsure as to whether you have to apply for a work permit from outside of Canada or if you can apply for a work permit with your current visitor status in Canada contact the Chaudhary Law Office.

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