Canadian interests – Charitable work [R205(d)] (exemption code C51) – International Mobility Program

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Foreign nationals who seek authorization to work under the authority of paragraph 205(d) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) are required to obtain an employer-specific work permit, but may not need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) (exemption code C51).

Paragraph R205(d) applies to foreign nationals whose work in Canada will be of a charitable nature, regardless of whether a wage is received.

Work of religious nature is also covered under paragraph R205(d), but the relevant guidance can be found in separate instructions on religious work.

On this page

Charitable versus volunteer work

There is a difference between a charitable worker and a volunteer worker. This difference is based on the definition of “work” and entry into the Canadian labour market:

  • Charitable workers require a work permit but are exempt from the requirement to obtain an LMIA under paragraph R205(d). Charitable workers require a work permit because the activity they undertake meets the definition of work: they are participating in a competitive activity or are being paid wages (for example, group home workers, professional carpenters for Habitat for Humanity).
  • Volunteer workers, on the other hand, are engaging in activities that are incidental to their main purpose for entering Canada and that do not meet the definition of work. Examples of activities that typically are not considered to be work include
    • being a Big Brother or Big Sister to a child
    • being on the telephone line at a rape crisis centre
    • canvassing for donations

    Note: The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and IRPR do not define “volunteer” or “unpaid worker.” The distinction between these two terms is that the volunteer does not perform work as defined by IRPR, whereas the unpaid worker does.

    Remuneration is not the only factor to be considered in determining if the activity performed constitutes work. An activity could very well not be remunerated but still constitute work if it competes with the activities of Canadians or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.

A volunteer is understood as a person not performing “work” as defined in IRPR. A volunteer will performs tasks for which a person would not normally be remunerated in our society.

An unpaid worker will perform work as it is understood in IRPR, that is, perform an activity that is in direct competition with the activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market, but will not receive wages or commissions for this work.

Assessing if work is charitable

To determine whether an applicant is eligible under paragraph R205(d), officers must assess if the work (not the organization) is of charitable nature.

Simply being employed by a Canadian charitable organization is not sufficient to meet the requirements for the LMIA exemption under paragraph R205(d). For example, the work of an administrator or an office manager in a charitable organization is generally not considered to be of a charitable nature, and the foreign national would not meet paragraph R205(d) requirements.

While being a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)-registered charity is not a requirement, if an organization is registered, it may be an indication that the type of work performed on behalf of that organization is indeed charitable in nature.

Organizations registered as a charity with the CRA should have a registration number.

For organizations not registered as a charity with the CRA, officers will need to determine if the organization falls within the CRA definition of a charitable organization.

Charitable purposes is defined by the CRA as working toward

  • relief of poverty
  • advancement of education
  • advancement of religion
  • certain other purposes that benefit the community


  • cooking at homeless shelters
  • providing prenatal instructions to low-income families who cannot afford it
  • providing 24/7 residential care in a group home setting to people who have developmental disabilities (for example, L’Arche)

For non-profit organizations and other organizations that are not registered with the CRA, officers may request additional information from the prospective employer to determine if the prospective work of the foreign national is of a charitable nature. This could include

  • the organization’s mandate
  • governing documents such as the certificate or article of incorporation
  • annual reports
  • letters of support
  • demonstration of the means of providing the charitable benefit
  • evidence of eligible beneficiary group
  • qualification under provincial or territorial charitable legislation

When determining if the work duties help relieve poverty, advance education or meet specific community needs, officers may be informed by CRA guidelines.

Officers should review the LMIA-exempt offer of employment (“Employment Details – LMIA Exempt” tab in the Global Case Management System [GCMS]) and documentation submitted to determine if the duties are of a charitable nature.

Note: A work permit application must be refused under paragraph R200(3)(f.1) if the employer has not done the following:

  • paid the employer compliance fee, as per section R303.1 (unless the employer has been exempted from paying the fee under subsection R303.1(5))
  • submitted the offer of employment information, as per section R209.11

See Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions (International Mobility Program).

Processing fee

A person who works in Canada for a Canadian charitable organization without remuneration is not required to pay the work permit processing fees.

The officer processing the application must assess if a work permit fee exemption applies. In this assessment, it is the charitable nature of the organization that is important, as well as whether the foreign national is remunerated.

To be fee exempt under paragraph R299(2)(f), the foreign national cannot receive remuneration other than a stipend for living expenses (see the note below), which should be, if monetary, below the minimum wage under the applicable federal, provincial or territorial law. Otherwise, the foreign national should receive only non-monetary benefits (for example, accommodation and health care).

Note: Foreign nationals who are provided with free room and board and receive a stipend may still qualify for a work permit processing fee exemption provided that the room and board are

  • integral to the foreign national’s ability to perform the work according to the terms set out in their employment arrangement (meaning on-site residency is a requirement of the job) and
  • non-monetized (for example, it has no market value, does not constitute a taxable benefit, cannot be converted into an economic payout)

This assessment of remuneration should be used to determine fee exemptions for both initial work permit applications and any subsequent work permit applications.

The work permit fee exemption code is E02.

Employer compliance fee

Under subsection R303.1(5), employers will be exempted from the payment of the employer compliance fee in cases where foreign nationals do not pay a work permit processing fee.

In order to be eligible for the employer compliance fee exemption at the time the LMIA-exempt offer of employment is submitted, employers must show that they are a charitable organization and that there is no remuneration for the work of the foreign national they intend to hire. Copying information from the instructions does not constitute evidence of their eligibility for a fee exemption.

Note: Fee-exempt employers are still subject to the compliance regime.

The employer compliance fee exemption code is EC1.

Duration of work permit

If the work permit application is approved, the work permit should be issued for the period specified in the offer of employment. Officers cannot issue a work permit or grant status as a temporary worker beyond the validity of the passport. For further guidance, please consult the instructions on Conditions and validity period on work permits (temporary workers).

Port of entry application process

Individuals who are otherwise eligible to make an application at a port of entry (POE) may apply for a work permit when seeking entry to Canada. All regular processes and required documentation outlined above also apply to applications made at POEs.

Work permit issuance in the Global Case Management System (GCMS)

Under the “Application” screen, officers should confirm the following:

Case Type: 52.

Important: When the applicant selects the work permit type “Exemption from Labour Market Impact Assessment” on the application, the “Case Type” field in GCMS is set automatically to “52.” This case type should not be changed to anything else for employer-specific, LMIA-exempt work permit applications that require an offer of employment. No other case type will allow the correct linking in GCMS. Changing the case type to anything other than “52” will negatively impact the integrity of financial and program data in GCMS and may result in blocking the department’s ability to inspect employers.

Location: the city and province of destination entered by the applicant should match the address of employment in the LMIA-exempt offer of employment. This information is under the “Employment Details – LMIA Exempt” tab.

Exemption Code: C51 – this code is auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment.

NOC: The National Occupation Classification (NOC) code is auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment.

Intended Occupation: job title.

Employer: business operating name. This information will be auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment.

Note: If the employer is authorized to use an IMM 5802 form instead of completing the offer of employment through the Employer Portal, please review Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions (International Mobility Program).

Spouses and children of charitable workers

For instructions related to spouses and children, refer to

Page details

Date modified: