Temporary Foreign Workers Program and International Mobility Program: Steps to determine work and assessment of work permit application

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.

The following procedures take officers through the decision-making process, from determining if the activity is work to the documentation required.

Step 1: Is the activity considered work?

“Work” [R2] an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.

For more detailed instruction review: What is work?

  • If the activity is work, proceed to Step 2.
  • If the activity is not work, assess the foreign worker as a temporary resident.

For further instructions on assessing temporary residents see:

Step 2: Is a work permit required?

Review if the foreign national’s occupation or activity falls within the requirements of those authorized to work without a work permit under section R186 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).

  • If a work permit is required, proceed to step 3.
  • If no work permit is required, entry may be granted as a foreign national authorized to work without a work permit, or an extension of status as a temporary resident authorized to work without a work permit. A Visitor Record may be issued [R186].

Note: For long-term temporary residents who may require a social insurance number, the Visitor Record must state in the visible remarks that the person is “authorized to work in Canada,” or make reference to section R186.

Step 3: Is the employer genuine and eligible to employ foreign nationals?

  1. Is the application for an open work permit? If yes, proceed to Step 4.
  2. Is the employer in possession of a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from ESDC? If no, proceed to question 3.
    1. Check the list of Employers who have been non-compliant to ensure employer remains eligible.

      Note: At the Port of Entry, this should be done even if the foreign national is in possession of a Letter of Introduction (LOI) in order to ensure that no change has been made during the period from LOI issuance to arrival in Canada.

  3. Has the employer submitted the LMIA-exempt offer of employment and paid the employer compliance fee (or provided proof of fee exemption) directly to IRCC?
    1. Review the offer to ensure it meets the genuineness requirements of R200(5) (e.g. business is active, can pay wages, meets all provincial and federal laws related to employment)
    2. Check the list of Employers who have been non-compliant to ensure employer remains eligible to hire a foreign worker.
      • If the employer is eligible and genuine, proceed to Step 4.
      • If the employer is not eligible or the offer of employment is assessed as non-genuine, the work permit shall be refused.
    3. Does the employer meet the requirements of R200(1)(c)(ii.1)(B) in that in the last six years they have provided each foreign national employed by them with employment in the same occupation and wages and working conditions that were substantially the same as indicated in the offer of employment used as the basis of the previously issued work permits?

    If the processing officer has concerns that the employer has not met the requirements of providing substantially the same wages and occupation to previous foreign nationals, the processing officer may refer the information to Case Management Branch, Investigations and Exceptional Cases Division for a review of the employer.

Step 4: Is the foreign national eligible to be issued a work permit?

Step 5: Are there any factors prohibiting work permit issuance? [R200(3)]

  • Are there reasonable grounds to believe the foreign national cannot perform the work sought including meeting the language requirements (does not apply where open work permits may be issued)? [R200(3)(a)]
  • Does the worker need a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) and not have one? [R200(3)(b)]
  • Would the worker become a strike-breaker by issuance of work permit? [R200(3)(c)]
  • Does the worker intend to work as a live-in caregiver but not meet the requirements in section R112? [R200(3)(d)]
  • Has the worker engaged in unauthorized work or study? [R200(3)(e)]
  • For LMIA exempt work permit applications, does the offer of employment not comply with all federal-provincial agreements? [R200(3)(f)]
  • For employer-specific LMIA-exempt work permit applications, has the employer not provided the Offer of Employment number and/or not paid the employer compliance fee? [R200(3)(f.1)]
  • Has the foreign worker been employed in Canada for a cumulative period of four years and is the new occupation not exempt? [R200(3)(g)]
  • Does the employer regularly provide striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massage? [R200(3)(g.1)]
  • Has the employer received a negative determination under R203(5), been made ineligible under R209.95(1)(b) or are they in default of any assessed monetary penalty? [R200(3)(h)(i-iii)]
  • Is the applicant inadmissible to Canada? [A34–42]

If the answer is

  • YES to any of these questions, refuse the work permit application.
  • NO to all of these questions and all other requirements are met, approve and issue a letter of introduction, if overseas or issue the work permit,(inland and at the port of entry [POE].

Before issuing a work permit, the officer should consider the following:

It should be noted that visa-exempt foreign nationals for whom the officer has approved an initial work permit will be automatically issued an eTA. No additional action is required on the officer’s part to manually issue the eTA. For a work permit extension application, the eTA will not be automatically renewed. It will be the applicant’s responsibility to use the check status tool to monitor the validity of their eTA, and to apply for a new one if necessary.


  • Correctly coded multiple-entry visas should be issued (as long as there is no restriction noted in chapter IC 2), valid for the same period as the work permit or passport, whichever expires first.
  • It is not necessary to issue a new temporary resident visa (TRV) if there is a pre-existing visa in the passport that covers the duration of the work permit.
  • In order for a visa-exempt foreign national to apply for a work permit at an air port of entry, they will need to have applied for and obtained an eTA prior to boarding their flight to Canada.
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