Steps to determine work and assessment of work permit applications

Note: Some Entry/Exit information can be accessed in GCMS by conducting a query through the application screen. Since February 26, 2019, all land entry and exit records (on all travellers, including Canadian and US citizens) and all air entry records are available. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) started to onboard air carriers between June 2020 and June 2021 to obtain air exit information. As of June 2021, all air exit information is available through a query in GCMS. Entry/exit information can be used to assess residence and to check for overstays. Data collected is point forward and not available for records that predate February 26, 2019.

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC 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 the following:

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 186 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].

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

  1. Is the application for an open work permit?
    • YES: proceed to Step 4.
    • NO: continue.
  2. Is the employer required to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from ESDC?
    • NO: proceed to question 3.
    • YES: has a positive LMIA been obtained?
      • NO: the work permit application must be refused as per section R203. (Note: See Limited Validity Period for Labour Market Impact Assessments for exceptions in inland processing.)
      • YES: check the list of Employers who have been non-compliant to ensure employer remains eligible, then proceed to Step 4.
        • 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 a complete LMIA-exempt offer of employment (ref: A#) and paid the employer compliance fee (or provided proof of fee exemption) directly to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)?
    • NO: is the employer exempt from the compliance regime?
    • YES: refer to Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment exemptions for guidance on how to
      1. Review the offer in the system 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.
        1. If the employer is eligible and genuine, proceed to Step 4.
        2. 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?
      4. 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)]

For more details on the assessment of prohibitions under R200(3), consult Work permit issuance prohibitions

  • 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 or failed to comply with a condition of a previous permit or authorization unless they meet one of the exemptions under R200(3)(e)(i) to (iv) or the provision does not apply as per R200(3.1) (vulnerable workers)? [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 and/or not paid the employer compliance fee? [R200(3)(f.1)]
  • Does the employer’s business provide the following services: striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massage? [R200(3)(g.1)] (Note: the worker does not have to be engaged in these activities to be prohibited work permit issuance—for example, an accountant working for a strip club.)
  • 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 to iii)]
  • Is the applicant inadmissible to Canada? [A34–42]

The officer should do the following:

  • If the answer is “Yes” to any of these questions, refuse the work permit application.
  • If the answer is “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 POE).

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

Learn more:

TRVs for temporary workers

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 TRV if there is a pre-existing visa in the passport that covers the duration of the work permit.

TRVs permit entry to Canada,; and, foreign nationals can still enter Canada to work if their visa happens to be coded V-1 (some visa offices issue a separate W-1 or S-P counterfoil and others do not if the V-1 has a long enough duration). The key to enable the worker status is the issuance of the work permit at the POE.

For work permit-exempt jobs, ideally coding would be B-1 or WX-1; however, if the visa is coded V-1, this would have no legal impact on the foreign national’s ability (or inability) to work without a permit.


If an eTA is issued in error to a visa-required foreign national, it should be cancelled.

In order for a visa-exempt foreign national to apply for a work permit at an air POE, they will need to have applied for and obtained an eTA prior to boarding their flight to Canada.

Foreign nationals from eTA expansion countries listed in subsection R7.01(1) can obtain a work permit prior to air travel but are not eligible to apply for a work permit at a POE, as they are not TRV-exempt as per subsection R198(1) and paragraph R190(1)(a).

As of April 26, 2022, lawful permanent residents of the United States (U.S.) do not need an eTA to fly to or transit through a Canadian airport. In all methods of travel, they must present their passport and proof of their valid lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. (such as a valid green card or a valid I-551 [ADIT] stamp in their passport).

eTAs for temporary workers

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 initial and work permit renewal applications issued from within Canada, the eTA will be issued for 5 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 of the work permit. If the eTA has expired since it was initially auto-issued or if the foreign national has a new passport, they must apply for and obtain an eTA separately if they seek to travel to Canada in the air mode.

If an eTA is issued with a work permit renewal for an eTA expansion client, and if the client holds a valid TRV, the officer must not cancel the existing TRV, as the client can continue to use it to travel to Canada by plane, car, bus, train or boat until it expires. However, the auto-issued eTA should be cancelled in this case as the traveller is visa-required.

Note: An eTA should not be issued with a work permit renewal in the following cases:

  • the foreign national has an unenforced removal order
  • the foreign national has been issued a work permit that “does not confer temporary resident status”
  • the foreign national has overstayed their authorized period of stay
  • the foreign national is a temporary resident permit holder
  • the foreign national is inadmissible to Canada

In all of the above cases, officers must cancel all valid eTAs (including those auto-issued with the work permit and those issued through the eTA expansion program).

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