Foreign nationals may be permitted to apply for a work permit from inside or outside Canada and they may be able to apply with or without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), but all applicants must meet the following baseline criteria.


  • prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your work permit expires;
  • show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada and to return home;
  • obey the law and have no record of criminal activity (you may be required to produce a police clearance certificate);
  • not be a danger to Canada’s security;
  • be in good health and have a medical exam, if needed;
  • not plan to work for an employer listed with the status “ineligible” on the list of employers who failed to comply with the conditions;
  • not plan to work for an employer who, on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages; and
  • give the officer any other documents they ask for to prove you can enter the country.

Applications from outside Canada (Employer-specific work permits)

Foreign nationals not already in Canada and who are not otherwise exempt, must have a qualified Canadian employer who wants to offer them a full-time position in their profession, or trade, paying market wages, and who can acquire an approval of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This requires extensive advertising to all Canadians and an extensive review process by Service Canada. Once the LMIA is approved, the applicant can apply for a work permit from their place of residence.

Anyone can apply before they enter Canada. However, there may be visa office requirements that you need to meet depending on what country or territory you’re applying from.

If you are in a technology field, you may also be eligible for the Global Skills Strategy’s two-week application processing

Applications from inside Canada (Open work permits)

You can only apply for a work permit from inside Canada if:

  • you have a valid study or work permit;
  • your spouse, common-law partner or parents have a valid study or work permit;
  • you’re eligible for a post-graduation work permit and your study permit is still valid;
  • you have a temporary resident permit that is valid for six months or more;
  • you’re waiting on a decision on an application for permanent residence from inside Canada;
  • you made a claim for refugee protection;
  • you’ve been recognized 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); or
  • you’re a trader, investor, intra-company transferee or professional under the Canada – United States – Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).

Stevens and Associates have helped thousands of skilled workers successfully apply for work permits to Canada from around the world. If you are interested in coming to Canada as a skilled worker, please complete our basic information form and send it to us for a free assessment.