How to Apply for a Canadian Work Permit from the US in 5 Steps

Are you considering working in Canada but currently reside in the United States? Navigating the process of obtaining a Canadian work permit from the US might seem daunting, but with the right information and guidance, it can be a smooth and successful endeavor. This article outlines the essential steps to help you secure a Canadian work permit while in the US.

How to Apply for a Canadian Work Permit from the US in 5 Steps

As an American or US citizen, working in Canada can offer wonderful opportunity to broaden and deepen your experience without moving too far from home. The job market in Canada is currently thriving. Canada's economy is growing, and due to its aging population and the concentration of its workforce in its largest cities, it is in dire need of foreign labor to fill the gaps in the labor market. As a result, firms in Canada are able to offer Americans amazing jobs there.

To live and work in Canada, though, you'll need a visa or work permit. A work permit is a legal document permitting a foreign national to engage in employment while inside of Canada. Each year, Canada issues about half a million work permits to temporary foreign workers around the world. It is so essential to understand how to obtain one and whether you even qualify for one if you want to live and work in Canada. We've put together a simple 5-step guide on how to apply for a Canada work visa from the United States.

How to Apply for a Canada Work Permit

Below are the five steps to follow to apply for a Canada work permit from the US.

1. Choose Your Canada Work Permit

While there are severe requirements that must be met, you must be sure you are eligible for a Canadian work permit before you start your application process. There are two types of work permits in Canada. Each of these permits has particular guidelines and limitations. The types of work permits include:

Open work permit

open work permit is a  non-job-specific work visa for Canada. It enables people to work for any Canadian employer of their choice. Since it is not tied to a particular job or firm, candidates do not require a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or proof of an employment offer. The following are some of the various programs you can use to obtain an open work permit in Canada:

  • Post-Graduation Work Permit Program: Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) applications are offered to graduates of qualified Canadian institutions. Through this program, international students who have finished their studies in Canada are able to work there for a specified duration.
  • Destitute Student: You might qualify for an open work permit if you're a student who can no longer afford to pay for your education. This allows you to able to sustain yourself financially by working in Canada.
  • Abuse or Risk of Abuse: You may be eligible for an open work permit if you have an employer-specific work permit and are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing abuse related to your employment in Canada. You can use this to leave your current job and work for any Canadian employer.
  • Temporary Resident Permit Holder: You can be eligible for an open work permit if you're a temporary resident of Canada. As long as your temporary residence permit is active, this enables you to work in Canada.
  • Spouse, Common-Law Partner, Conjugal Partner, or Accompanying Dependent Child: If you are sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, or accompanying dependent child under the Family Sponsorship Program, you may be eligible for an open work permit in Canada. While  your application for sponsorship is being processed, you will be able to work in Canada. It's important to remember that each program may have different eligibility requirements, and additional requirements must be satisfied.

Employer-specific Work Permit

You will probably need a closed or employer-specific work permit if none of the aforementioned conditions apply. This permit only allows employment with the specific employer that has made you an offer of employment. If you quit or are fired from your job, your work permit will become invalid. Through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), you can obtain a work visa that is customized to your business.

The TFWP is an important component of the immigration system in Canada and is essential to fostering economic development and competitiveness in the country. Foreign nationals are permitted to work in Canada for a certain employer for a set amount of time. The permit is highly sought-after by people all over the world because it offers a special chance to obtain professional experience in a vibrant and diverse economy. Additionally, it enables Canadian employers to fill labor gaps by bringing in foreign workers.

A Temporary Foreign Worker Permit allows a bearer to work in Canada. The LMIA holder can only work for the employer who issued it. Canadian employers may need the LMIA from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) before recruiting a foreign worker. The permit does not authorize labor for any employer in the nation.


Additionally, obtaining a Canada work permit requires two steps. ESDC must issue an LMIA to the Canadian employer before hiring international workers. Second, the foreign worker can apply for a work permit after the employer has the LMIA. Hire foreign labor without harming Canadians and permanent residents via this approach.

The Temporary international Worker Permit allows international workers to further their careers and boost the Canadian economy. The permit also addresses labor market shortages and ensures corporate efficiency. To stay lawful, businesses and foreign workers must follow permission terms.

Read Also: Easy Steps to Get Work in Canada: Complete Guide for Foreigners

Canada Work Permit Requirements

The requirements for each work permit are very specific. If you don't meet these criteria, you won't be eligible for a work visa. There are three main requirements: one that applies to you as the applicant, one that applies to your potential employer, and one that applies to the job offer. As a candidate, you need to:

  • Prove you intend to leave Canada after your work permit expires.
  • Prove you can provide for yourself and any dependent family members.
  • Have no criminal record and pass a police background check
  • Obey the law and commit no crime while in Canada.
  • Prove you're in good health via a medical exam.

You must be working for a recognized Canadian employer if you're searching for an employer-specific work permit. Your Canadian employer must get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to be permitted. An LMIA demonstrates to Canadian authorities that the business has looked locally for candidates to fill this position but has been unsuccessful. The employment offer must meet a number of essential requirements and be properly written t0 be valid.

2. Prepare Your Documents

A Canada work permit application from any country requires specific documents. They are as follows:

  • Proof of Identity
    • Passport or identity documents
    • Two clear identity document photos
  • Proof of employment in Canada
  • If you have an LMIA, you'll need:
    • A copy of an LMIA should be given to you by your employer.
    • Copy of your employment contract
  • Proof you're eligible for the job via documents like:
    • A valid Canadian provincial or territorial trade certificate
    • Educational credentials
    • Proof of past work experience
    • If you're working in Quebec, you won't need an LMIA but a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ). You can find the pathway to this on the Canadian government website.
  • Proof of relationship to any dependents coming with you via documents like marriage or birth certificates
  • Other documents as specified by the Canadian authorities.

Keep in mind that your documents are to be in English or French to help the Canadian authorities handle them more easily.

Check Also: What are the Best Provinces in Canada for Job Opportunities?

3. Fill Out Your Forms

After your materials are ready, you must complete the following application forms:

  • Application form For Work Permit Made Outside of Canada (IMM 1295)
  • Document Checklist (IMM 5488)
  • Family Information (IMM 5645 or IMM 5707)
  • Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union (IMM 5409), if applicable
  • Use of a Representative (IMM 5476), if applicable
  • If applicable, permit to release personal information to a designated individual (IMM 5475).

4. Pay the Fees

Processing fees are required for all visa and permit programs offered by Canada. According to the Canadian government website, the fees you must pay for your Canada work visa are broken down below:

Application  CAD
Work Permit per person 155
Work permit per group of 3 or more performing artists 465
Open Work Permit Holder 100

5. Submit Your Application

Once you have acquired or received all of your supporting documentation, completed all the required paperwork, and paid any applicable costs, ti's time to submit your application. You can do so through a Visa Application Center (VAC) or the website of the Canadian government.

What Happens After You Apply

You must wait for the Canada work permit processing time after submitting your application. For US citizens applying outside of Canada, the processing time for work permits is roughly 12 weeks. The Canadian government will do a Completion Check on your application during that period to make sure:

  • You have completed and submitted all of the required documents.
  • You have paid all of the processing fees.
  • You've sent in any subsequently requested documentation.

If your application is incomplete, you will be contacted and asked for more information and documents, or the process may need to be restarted. In either case, this will significantly lengthen the time it takes to process work permits. This is why getting a professional, like an RCIC, to review your paperwork before you submit your application can be advantageous.

Read More: How to Immigrate to Canada from the US


Securing a Canadian work permit from the US involves several important steps, from determining your eligibility to patiently awaiting a decision. By following these steps and ensuring that your application is complete and accurate, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome. It's recommended to check the official Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for the most up-to-date information and requirements.

Embarking on a journey to work in Canada is an exciting opportunity for personal and professional growth. With careful preparation and adherence to the application process, you can pave the way for a smooth transition to the Canadian workforce.

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