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Can Visitors Apply For Work Permit Within Canada?

If you are currently in Canada on a visitor visa and have decided that you would like to stay and work, it is important that you understand your immigration position before you go any further. This is because by applying for a job, you may, inadvertently be in breach of the terms of your visitor visa, and this may jeopardise your ability to secure a work permit in the future.

It is always recommended that you follow the correct process, you engage the services of an immigration lawyer who can advise you of your options. Doing so can save you money and time, allowing you to proceed with your plans without any unnecessary delay. In this article, we will summarise your immigration position as a Canadian visitor and how you can secure a work permit. As you will see, due to COVID-19, the rules regarding allowing visitors to apply for a work permit have changed.

Can I Apply For A Work Permit As A Visitor Already In Canada?

The short answer to this question is, yes, but, ordinarily, no. One of the conditions of receiving a visitor visa is that you must have ties, such as a job, home, financial assets or family that will take you back to your home country, and that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit. These rules are put in place to ensure that those using visitor visas are genuine visitors and not using this as a means to enter the country for another purpose.

The immigration rules state that you can only apply for a work permit while already located in Canada if any of the following apply:

  • you have a valid study or work permit
  • your spouse, common-law partner or parent has a valid study or work permit
  • you’re eligible for a post-graduation work permit, and your study permit is still valid
  • you or your spouse, common-law partner or parent has a temporary resident permit that is valid for six months or more
  • you’re waiting on a decision on an application for permanent residence for the spouse or common-law partner in Canada
  • you made or will make a claim for refugee protection
  • you’ve been recognised as a convention refugee or protected person by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
  • you’re allowed to work in Canada without a work permit, but you need a work permit to work in a different job (this does not apply to business visitors)
  • you’re a trader, investor, intra-company transferee or professional under the Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)

As a visitor visa holder, if none of these apply, then you would normally need to apply from outside of Canada, but these rules have been changed due to COVID-19.

What Are The New Rules For Visitors Applying For A Work Permit In Canada Due To COVID-19?

The Canadian government website currently advises, “Normally, visitors can’t apply for work permits from inside Canada. Due to COVID-19, visitors can now apply online for a work permit by following the steps below”. It must be stressed that this only applies at the time of writing and that prospective applicants should check whether this rule currently applies. As the situation pertaining to COVID-19 is constantly changing, and government’s are regularly reviewing their position, the ability for visitors to apply for a work permit within Canada may be revoked at any time,

Am I Eligible To Apply For A Work Permit?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provide a highly detailed guide to applying for a work permit, which should be read to ensure you meet all of the eligibility criteria. In order to apply for a work permit, you must have a job offer from an eligible employer in Canada. When you apply, IRCC will check the following:

  • whether the offer of employment is genuine,
  • the past history of the employer's compliance with the commitments outlined in offers of employment to foreign workers hired in the past six years in respect to wages, working conditions and the occupation,
  • compliance with Federal-Provincial or Territorial Laws, and
  • if the employer has been banned from hiring a foreign national as per the IRPR.

The employer may also need to conduct a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to verify that your employment is likely to have a positive or neutral impact on the labour market in Canada. You will also need to:

  • satisfy an officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your employment,
  • show that you have enough money during your stay in Canada to take care of yourself and your family members and to return home,
  • be law-abiding and have no record of criminal activity (you may be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate),
  • not be a danger to the security of Canada,
  • be in good health and complete a medical examination, if required,
  • provide any additional documents requested by the officer to establish your admissibility.

Applying For Work Permit Within Canada

Once you have a confirmed job offer, you will be able to apply for a work permit. The application is completed online. As part of the application process, you will need to upload copies of supporting documents including a copy of the LMIA or your Offer of Employment number and evidence that you meet the requirements of the job (e.g. your qualifications).

After you have submitted your application, you will need to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and photo) at a biometric collection service in Canada. You will then need to wait for your application to be processed. If granted, your permit will outline the type of work you can undertake, who you can work for, the location, and the hours you can work.

Final Words

COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for visitors in Canada to apply for a work permit without needing to return home. It is imperative to act quickly, however, as this policy will not remain in place indefinitely.

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