Steps to determine work and assessment of work permit applications

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.

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].

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 the answer is yes, proceed to Step 4.
    • If the answer is no, continue.
  2. Is the employer required to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from ESDC?
    • If the answer is no, proceed to question 3.
    • If the answer is yes, has a positive LMIA been obtained?
      • If the answer is 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.)
      • If the answer is 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 the LMIA-exempt offer of employment and paid the employer compliance fee (or provided proof of fee exemption) directly to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)?
  4. If the answer is no, is the employer exempt from the compliance regime?
    • Note regarding exempt employers: Foreign governments, international organizations recognized under the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, foreign missions (embassies or consular generals) in Canada (where the foreign national is not accredited by Global Affairs Canada) as well as international bridge or tunnel authorities with foreign employees working on Canadian soil can be exempt from the compliance regime and the requirement to submit an offer of employment to IRCC and pay the compliance fee. See the new program delivery instructions titled Exemption from the employer compliance regime for the International Mobility Program.
    • If the answer is yes, proceed to Step 4.
    • If the answer is no and there is no offer of employment pending in the system, the work permit application must be refused under paragraph R200(3)(f.1). See Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment exemptions, under section titled No offer of employment information or employer compliance fee submitted.
  5. If the answer is yes, refer to Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment exemptions for guidance.
    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?
  6. 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 has 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 number and/or not paid the employer compliance fee? [R200(3)(f.1)]
  • 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 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:

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.

If an eTA is issued in error, 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 are not eligible to apply for a work permit at a POE, as they are not TRV-exempt as per section R190.

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 or if the foreign national has a new passport, they must apply for and obtain an eTA separately.

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.

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 issued through the expansion of eTA).

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