Jobs That Do Not Require a Work Permit in Canada
- Business Visitor
- Foreign Representatives and Their Family Members
- Military Personnel
- Foreign Government Officers
- On-Campus Work
- Performing Artists
- Athletes and Team Members
- News Reporters and Media Crews
- Public Speakers
- Convention Organizers
- Judges, Referees and Similar Officials
- Examiners and Evaluators
- Expert Witnesses or Investigators
- Health Care Students
- Civil Aviation Inspectors
- Aviation Accident or Incident Inspectors
- Emergency Service Providers
- Implied Status
- Off-Campus Work
- Farm Work
When trying to enter Canada as business visitor, a foreign worker should have relevant documents such as:
- A letter of support from the foreign company that employs the worker
- A letter of invitation from the Canadian business that is hosting the business visitor
- A statement proving that the foreign worker’s employer carries on business outside of Canada
Many business visitors to Canada are those who work in After-Sales or Lease Services.
These services include:
- Repairing, servicing, setting up and testing commercial equipment or industrial equipment (including software). Note: “Setting up” does not include general, hands-on installation that is done by those working in construction or building trades.
- Supervising the workers who perform the services above. One business visitor supervisor will usually supervise five to ten workers.
- Repairing or servicing specialized equipment that was bought or leased outside of Canada. A business visitor may only come to Canada to do this work if the service is being performed as part of:
- An original or extended sales contract or;
- A lease/rental contract or;
- A warranty or;
- A service contract.
- Coming to Canada to install, configure or give training on upgraded software that operates on equipment that has already been sold or leased. A business visitor may only come to Canada to do this work if the service is being performed as part of:
- An original or extended sales contract or;
- A lease/rental contract or;
- A warranty or;
- A service contract.
- Entering Canada to provide training services to users and maintenance staff concerning the use of specialized equipment that was bought outside of Canada
- Entering Canada to provide training to employees of a branch or subsidiary company of the business visitor’s employer. The business visitor’s employer must be located outside of Canada.
Other individuals who may work as business visitors in Canada without a work permit include:
- Individuals entering Canada to attend a Board of Director’s meeting
- Workers employed on a full-time basis by people who themselves are short-term, temporary residents of Canada. This group includes: domestic workers, nannies and caregivers. If the employer extends their stay in Canada beyond 6 months, however, the business visitor will have to seek a work permit and LMIA in order to remain in Canada.
- Individuals working for a foreign company who have been sent to Canada in order to inspect the quality of a product that the foreign company purchased from a Canadian company. In this case, the person will be considered a business visitor as long as he/she remains an employee of the foreign company.
- Be accredited as a foreign representative by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).
- Be entering Canada to carry out official duties as a:
- Diplomatic agent or;
- Consular officer or;
- Representative or official of a country other than Canada or;
- Representative or official of the United Nations or;
- Representative or official of a United Nations agency or;
- Representative or official of an international organization of which Canada is a member.
Family members of the foreign representatives above will normally be able to work in Canada without a work permit as long as they are issued a “no-objection letter” by the DFATD. For more information on this matter, click here.
Non-accredited employees of international organizations such as the UN who are entering Canada to work at meetings or attend a special assembly also do not need work permits.
In certain cases, domestic workers for high-level members of a diplomatic mission, consular post or international organization will be permitted to work in Canada without a work permit. In order to do so, however, the domestic workers must be approved by the DFATD.
All military personnel who have been given orders to come to Canada do not need a work permit as long as they are serving a country that is designated under the Visiting Forces Act. For a list of these countries, click here.
Note: this work permit exemption applies to military personnel and not “military attachés”, who are employed by diplomatic missions.
If the officer works in an executive branch of government, he/she must have a contract from the Public Service Commission that outlines the terms of the inter-government work agreement. This requirement does not apply to any officer who works at a level lower than the executive level. If any foreign government officer would like to stay in Canada for more than three months, he/she must possess a formal letter of agreement signed by:
- The foreign officer AND;
- The deputy head of the department that employs the officer in the officer’s country of origin AND;
- Another authority within the organization that employs the foreign officer.
If the work agreement that sends the foreign officer to Canada also involves Canada sending an officer to work for the foreign officer’s government (reciprocal agreement), the family members of the foreign officer coming to Canada will be exempt from the work permit requirement. If the agreement is not reciprocal, family members of the foreign officer will have to obtain work permits in order to work in Canada.
Under this section, American law enforcement officers who work near bodies of water that are shared between Canada and the USA are exempt from the work permit requirement.
In-flight security officers are also exempt under this rule.
The exemption also applies to students who are working as teaching assistants or research assistants.
“On-campus work" is defined as work at a location within the boundaries of a post-secondary school campus. Students are only allowed to work on the campus of the school at which they are registered in full-time studies. If a school has more than one campus, the student can work at locations on those campuses as long as the campuses are within the same city. If an institution has campuses in different cities, the student can only work on the campus where he/she is registered as a full-time student.
Students may also work off campus and still be exempt from the work permit requirement if the place at which they work has a formal connection with the school at which they are enrolled.
In order to work in Canada, all students need a Social Insurance Number. To apply for a Social Insurance Number for the purposes of on-campus employment, a student must have a study permit and an employment contract.
- Foreign-based musical and theatrical performers or groups and their essential crew
- Street performers (buskers)
- Traveling circus performers
- Guest artists who are performing with a Canadian performance group for a time-limited engagement. Note: In order to be exempt from the work permit requirement, it must be obvious that the guest performer will cease his/her work with the Canadian group after a certain period of time
- Wrestlers from the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. and similar groups
- Persons performing for a limited time at a private event such as a wedding
- Air show performers
- Artists working at or attending a showcase or workshop. Under this group, only entry for five days or less will normally be allowed. Duties under this category may include:
- Judging competitors.
- Demonstrating certain skills.
- Holding a class related to the showcase or workshop.
- Visual artists creating or displaying their own work at a showcase or workshop. Under this category, only entry for five days or less will normally be allowed.
- Rodeo contestants (e.g., bronco-riders, steer-ropers, barrel racers)
- Film producers
- Small groups that intend to use a film or recording studio
- Guest speakers that will make live appearances or appearances on Canadian TV or radio
Note: The following performing artists must obtain a work permit and LMIA before entering Canada:
- Actors, singers and crew in Canadian theatrical productions, shows, or circuses
- Persons involved in making films, television, Internet and radio broadcasts
- Performers in Canadian-based productions or shows
- Rodeo performers or side show workers (e.g., rodeo clowns, announcers, horsemanship specialists, trick riders, ‘half-time acts’ and other specialty act entertainers).
- Performers who will be in an employment relationship with a Canadian organization or business.
Note: An “employment relationship” is only created when a performer signs a contract AND agrees to perform for an employer on a regular basis such as five nights a week for a period of four weeks. If a performer is hired to perform only once or twice, the performer is still exempt from the work permit requirement even if a contract is signed.
Athletes and Team Members:
Foreign-born professional or amateur athletes may participate individually or as a team in Canadian sporting events without having to get a work permit. Coaches, trainers and other important team members are also exempt from the work permit requirement.
Spouses of professional athletes working in Canada must have a work permit but are exempt from the LMIA requirement.
This category includes: guest speakers for specific events, commercial speakers and seminar leaders. The speaking engagements for all of the above must not last for more than 5 days. The following public speakers, however, must get a work permit and LMIA before entering Canada:
- Commercial speakers who are hired by a Canadian business to provide training services.
- Guest athletics instructors coming to teach weekend seminars.
Individuals, committees and support staff who are organizing a convention or conference do not need a work permit to work in Canada. Events covered by this exemption include:
- Association meetings
- Corporate meetings
- Trade shows or exhibitions
- Consumer shows or exhibitions
Note: This exemption does not apply to “hands-on” workers such as those who provide audio-visual services, installation and dismantling services, show decorating services, or exhibit building services.
Further, a convention organizer will have to obtain a work permit if he/she is organizing an event for an organization that:
- Is actively doing business in Canada
- Is centered in Canada
- Has a subsidiary branch in Canada
A person will be exempt from the work permit requirement if his/her work consists mainly of: preaching doctrine, presiding at religious events or providing spiritual guidance.
Peoples who do not perform the work above but are engaged in religiously based community service activities must have a work permit but do not need to get a LMIA.
Persons seeking entry to Canada under this category must be able to provide evidence concerning:
- The genuineness of their offer of religious employment
- The genuineness of the religious group that is offering the job
- The ability of the clergyman to perform clerical duties for a congregation of the relevant religious group
Note: In some cases, visa officers may require further evidence in order to assess the genuineness of the religious job being offered.
Judges, Referees and Similar Officials
Judges, referees and similar officials may work in Canada without a work permit if they are involved in:
- An international amateur sports contest
- The contest should be organized by an international amateur sporting association and hosted by a Canadian organization.
- An international cultural or artistic event or contest
- An animal or agricultural contest
Note: Referees for professional sporting leagues are normally required to obtain a work permit and a LMIA. However, referees in certain professional sports leagues such as the NHL, MLB and NBA are exempt from this requirement due to specific reciprocal agreements between Canada and the USA.
Examiners and Evaluators
Under this category, successful academics that guide students and review their work will be allowed to enter Canada without a work permit in order to review their students’ theses and papers. This group also includes professors and researchers who are entering Canada in order to evaluate academic university programs or research proposals.
Expert Witnesses or Investigators
A worker does not need to obtain a work permit to enter Canada if he/she:
- Is entering Canada to conduct surveys or analyses that will be used as evidence before a regulatory body, tribunal or court of law
- Is entering Canada to serve as an expert witness before a regulatory body, tribunal or court of law
- Occupational and physical therapy
- Medical Technology
In order to be exempt from the work permit requirement, all students mentioned above must have written permission from the provincial body that regulates the health field at hand. Medical students bound for the following provinces do not need written permission from a regulatory body:
- British Columbia
Note: Foreign medical students seeking entry to Quebec to work in a short clinical internship must have a permission letter from Le Collège des Médecins du Québec. Medical students seeking entry to Quebec to engage in medical observation or a research internship do not need a permission letter. For medical students seeking entry to all other Canadian provinces and territories, a permission letter is recommended.
These jobs will often be unpaid and should last for no longer than four months.
Civil Aviation Inspectors
Flight operations inspectors and cabin safety inspectors who enter Canada temporarily while inspecting the safety procedures on commercial international flights are exempt from the work permit requirement. Workers under this group must be employed by a recognized aeronautics safety authority and must have valid documentation establishing that they are aviation inspectors.
Aviation Accident or Incident Inspectors
Accredited representatives or advisors that aid in the investigation of aviation accidents or incidents under the authority of the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act are exempt from the work permit requirement.
Individuals who operate blimps that assist in media coverage of major sporting events are also exempt from the work permit requirement.
Normally, media crews (including writers, print, video, film and broadcast journalists, as well as technicians such as camera operators) who are producing travelogues, documentaries or tourism promotional material must have work permits in order to enter Canada.
In some cases, though, these media crews will be exempt from the work permit requirement under business visitor rules. North American media crews will be exempt from the work permit requirement if they meet the business visitor criteria above and are taking part in a promotional tour at the invitation of Canada’s federal government or at the invitation of a Canadian provincial, territorial, municipal or regional government. Non-North American crews will be exempt from the work permit requirement if they meet the business visitor criteria above and their final product is intended to be distributed and viewed in non-North American markets.
Any crewmember that works on any means of transport that is used for international transportation does not need a work permit to work in Canada. In order for the exemption to apply, the transport vehicle must be foreign-owned and not registered in Canada. Furthermore, the duties of the crewmember must be related to the operation or maintenance of the transport vehicle or the provision of services to passengers. There are certain specific regulations regarding crewmembers in maritime, air, highway and rail transport, which can be seen below.
A. Maritime Travel
With regards to maritime travel, a work permit is required for all foreign crew members on a vessel when:
- The vessel takes in passengers at a Canadian port and then lets off some of said passengers at another Canadian port.
- The vessel takes in passengers at a Canadian port and then ends the cruise and lets off all passengers at another Canadian port. This rule applies regardless of whether the vessel stopped at a foreign port of call during the voyage.
A work permit is not required for foreign crew members on a maritime vessel when:
- The vessel’s voyage begins and ends at the same Canadian port and includes one or more stops at a foreign port of call.
- The vessel’s voyage begins at a Canadian port and ends at a foreign port of call.
B. Air Travel
Normally, any foreign crewmembers arriving on a flight into Canada from an international point of origin or departing Canada on an internationally bound flight will not need a work permit.
On the other hand, foreign crewmembers will need a work permit to work on flights flying between two points in Canada.
A Canadian border officer, however, has the discretion to consider waiving this the work permit requirement when:
- The foreign crewmember receives a ministerial exception to the work permit requirement due to a time sensitive or unexpected situation that requires the foreign crewmember to work on a Canadian domestic flight.
- The crewmember is subject to an agreement between Canada and a foreign airline in which Canada allows the foreign airline to carry cargo and passengers between points in Canada. These types of agreements are referred to as co-terminal services or triangular services.
- The foreign crewmember works for a charter that is transporting a sports team or entertainment event on an international tour.
- The foreign crewmember works for a private plane that is exceptionally being used to offer publicly available air services.
C. Highway Travel
Foreign crew members working aboard trucks operating in Canada may deliver or pick-up goods and passengers across the U.S.-Canadian border without a work permit as long as they do not pick up and deliver from one location to another within Canada.
A foreign crewmember will need a work permit, however, when he/she is involved in the loading or unloading of cargo. This applies to all foreign crewmembers regardless of the voyage’s origin and destination UNLESS:
- The crewmember has expertise in the handling of special goods such as chemicals, furniture, or livestock and is primarily responsible for loading and unloading the vehicle OR
- The crewmember is handling cargo in a non-warehouse situation such as offloading furniture at a private home.
Foreign truck drivers who are employed by Canadian trucking companies to pick up goods in Canada for delivery to the U.S., and who are operating Canadian owned and registered vehicles are notexempt from the work permit requirement. Independent foreign truckers working under contract for Canadian trucking companies are also not exempt from the work permit requirement
D. Rail Travel
If a rail service carries passengers or cargo between two points within Canada, all crewmembers must have work permits. If the rail service carries passengers or cargo between Canada and the USA, all crewmembers are not required to have work permits.
Emergency Service Providers
Persons who come to Canada for the purpose of rendering services in times of emergency are exempt from the work permit requirement. These persons may be:
- Medical teams
- Provincially licensed insurance adjusters
The emergencies may be medical, industrial, environmental or the result of a natural disaster.
Foreign insurance adjusters must be able to prove that they meet all relevant provincial regulatory requirements in order to be admitted to Canada without a work permit.
Workers may continue working in Canada under the conditions of an expired work permit as long as they have applied for a new permit before the initial work permit expired and still live in Canada. If the new application for a work permit is rejected, the worker will have to leave Canada.
- The student holds a valid study permit.
- The student is a full time student enrolled at a designated learning institution. Note: A foreign part-time student will still be allowed to work off-campus if they are in their final semester and the course load required to complete the program of study during the final semester is part-time.
- The program in which the student is enrolled is a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program, or a vocational training program at the secondary level offered in Quebec.
- The program of study is at least six months or more in duration and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate.
- The student continues to fulfil the terms and conditions of their study permit.
- The student works no more than 20 hours a week during a regular academic semester.
Foreign students are ineligible for this exception if they:
- Are a visiting or exchange student.
- Are registered in a general interest program.
- Are registered in an English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL) program.
Students who are registered as full-time students during summer semesters (May to August) may only work up to 20 hours per week during that period.
Some intensive programs may not have scheduled breaks. Students participating in these programs may thus only work a maximum of 20 hours per week during the entire program of study.
There are no legal restrictions preventing students from working on-campus in addition to working the maximum 20 hours per week off-campus.
If the staff at a designated learning institution goes on strike during a semester, foreign students of that learning institution who have been working off campus must continue working a maximum of 20 hours a week and may not work full-time.
Foreign students can continue to work off-campus after graduation as long as they continue to hold their study permit and have applied for a post-graduation work permit within 90 days following the completion of their program of study. If their post-graduation work permit is rejected, foreign students must cease working immediately.
A person may work on a farm without a work permit as long as:
- The farm work is on a volunteer basis
- The person’s primary reason for coming to Canada was something other than the farm work (such as tourism or visiting family/friends)00
- The farm is non-commercial. Non-commercial farms are generally defined as: farms where the owner provides much of the capital and labour for the farm and where the farm produce is used to provide for the basic needs of the owner’s family, with little extra to sell for profit.