Foreign workers: Eligibility and admissibility – Conditions including validity period

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

General conditions are imposed on all temporary residents (including workers) by operation of section 183 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. Individual conditions may be imposed by an officer under section R185 as follows:

  • a period of stay, or validity period of the work permit must be imposed;
  • other conditions noted in paragraph R185(b) should be imposed depending on whether the work permit should be open or a medical examination has been completed .

What should the validity period be?

In general, the longer the duration of temporary stay, the greater the onus will be on the individual to provide evidence of temporary purpose at the time an application for a work permit or extension is made.

Circumstances to be considered include the following:

  • passport validity under subsection R52(1): officers cannot issue a work permit or grant status as a temporary worker beyond the validity of the passport. Exceptions to this are noted in subsection R52(2). An additional exception applies for work permits issued to those who may not have status as a temporary resident [R202];

    Note: All other criteria noted below are subject to passport validity, unless the applicant (like U.S. nationals) is exempted.

  • Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) (subject to passport validity, officers should issue the work permit for the complete duration of the LMIA taking into account CAQ validity where applicable);
  • expected duration of employment in the job offer;
  • maximum time allowed by any particular program or agreement in which the client is participating. (Some programs or agreements may limit the length of initial issuance, extensions or total length of employment in Canada. See below.)

Providing requirements are met, officers should issue work permits for a longer rather than shorter duration. Where there is no reason to limit duration, officers should issue a work permit for the complete expected duration of the employment. It is in the Department’s and the client‘s interest to lengthen the periods between times when clients require service (i.e. allowing a person to work, without having to submit renewal applications unnecessarily frequently, saves both the client's time and money, and the department's resources).

Note: If a temporary residence visa is necessary, it should be of the same duration as the work permit (or passport, if it will expire first) and it should allow for multiple entries, provided there are no restrictions noted in chapter IC 2.

Note: For initial work permit applications, if an electronic travel authorization (eTA) is necessary, it will be issued automatically with the work permit. It will be valid for five years from the date of issuance or until the client’s passport expires – whichever comes first, regardless of whether this date is beyond the expiry date for the work permit. There will be no separate fee for the eTA application. For work permit extension applications, the eTA will not be automatically renewed. If foreign nationals applying for a work permit extension wish to exit and re-enter Canada, they must ensure that their eTA is still valid by consulting the check status tool. If their eTA has expired or if they have a new passport, they must apply for and obtain an eTA separately.

Categories of work with validity periods that may not be exceeded

  • Professionals
    NAFTA [R204(a), exemption code T23]: Work permits may be issued for three years, with renewals by three-year increments.

    Other FTAs similar to the NAFTA: [R204(a), exemption code T23]: Work permits may be issued for one year, with renewals by one-year increments.

    GATS [R204(a), exemption code T33]: 90-day limit per 12-month period.

    Note: No limit on the number of extensions providing the individual continues to comply with the requirements (see section 3.7 of the North American Free Trade Agreement)
  • Intra-company transferees
    NAFTA (and other FTAs similar to the NAFTA) [R204(a), exemption code T24], General Provisions under IRPA and GATS R205(a), (exemption code C12]: Work permits may be issued for the following periods:
    • Executives and managers: max. initial three years, unless opening an office (one year); two-year renewals allowable; total period of stay may not exceed seven years; Footnote *
    • Specialized knowledge transferees: maximum initial three years, unless opening an office (one year); two-year renewals allowable; total period of stay may not exceed five years. Footnote *
  • International Experience Canada Programs
    Paragraph R205(b), exemption code C21: most programs are six months or one year.
  • Study permit holders
    Work permits issued under subparagraphs R205(c)(i.1) and (i.2), exemption codes C32 and C33, where the work is essential to the study program, should not exceed the validity date of the study permit.
  • Spousal employment provisions
    Work permits issued under subparagraph R205(c)(ii), exemption code C41 or C42, [or under paragraph R205(b), C20 in the case of spouses of military personnel or diplomats] should not exceed the duration of the principal applicant’s stay in Canada.
  • Post-graduate employment
    Subparagraph R205(c)(ii), exemption code C43: can be used only once; total employment up to a maximum of three years. (See Study permits: Post-Graduation Work Permit Program.)
  • Live-in Caregiver Program
    The maximum validity of the work permit (and the maximum to which it can be extended under this program) is four years.
  • Refugee claimants, etc.
    For work permits issued under section R206, exemption code S61 or S62, initial validity is 24 months, and renewals may be issued for one-year periods.
  • Destitute students
    Section R208, exemption code H81: a work permit should be issued only to allow the study permit holder to complete their term.
  • Temporary resident permit holders
    To be issued a work permit under section R208, exemption code H82, the temporary resident permit must be valid for a minimum of six months. The validity date of the work permit should not exceed the validity of the temporary resident permit.
  • Special category countries
    In most cases, foreign workers from these countries may be issued work permits beyond a one-year validity. See Appendix A of chapter IC 2.
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