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How Can I Come to Canada as a Temporary Foreign Worker?

6 minute read

By Lesley Harrison

Working in Canada can be a fun way to spend a summer. Whether you’re taking a gap year or a career break or you’re looking to test the waters before moving there, time spent working in Canada gives you a chance to meet new people and see one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Navigating the immigration requirements can be confusing, especially when it comes to getting permits for short-term work.

Read on to learn about the different types of work permits that are available and how to get sponsorship for one, as well as how to extend a permit if you decide to stay in Canada for a longer period of time.

Roberto Machado Noa / Getty

Why Spend Some Time Working in Canada?

Canada is a country known for its stunning scenery, friendly people and low cost of living. If you’re looking to get some work experience in a different country, Canada has a lot to offer. Many companies welcome foreign workers for short-term contracts, ranging from working at summer camps to farming, truck driving, and even temporary placements in technical/engineering professions. These jobs give workers a chance to gain transferable skills while also benefiting from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore a foreign country.

What Kind of Temporary Jobs Are Available In Canada?

There are temporary jobs available for foreign workers in a variety of fields. Many jobs are seasonal and would suit students or people taking a gap year who want some time to explore as well as work. Job opportunities include:

Some of these jobs are open to anyone, and do not require a lot of experience or specialist training to apply. Truck drivers and some care professionals will need to have Canadian certifications, but many recruiters will arrange these as a part of the hiring process for otherwise-qualified applicants.

How Long Can I Spend in Canada on a Temporary Worker Permit?

A temporary work permit is usually valid for no more than 6 months1. It is possible to apply to the consulate to have the permit extended, however. In some cases, a permit can be extended more than once, although a foreign worker cannot stay in the country for more than 4 years on a temporary worker visa. If you think you may want to extend your stay or apply for permanent residency, talk to your employer and ask them to sponsor an application for this.

How Do I Get a Temporary Work Permit for Canada?

If you want to work in Canada as a foreign employee, your employer will have to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment2 before hiring you. Once they have been given permission to employ a foreign worker for the position, they can sponsor your application for a temporary worker permit. The employer or agency you find employment through should handle most of the process for you. There are special provisions for students and for the spouses of foreign workers.

Where Can I Find Temporary Jobs for Foreign Workers?

You can find a variety of sites offering jobs in Canada for foreigners with visa sponsorship in 2022 as well as through educational institutions and recruitment agencies. The Canadian government also offers a dedicated jobs website for foreign workers3. If you’re interested in working as a summer camp counselor, there are programs such as Camp Canada4 that offer the opportunity to work with young people and see some of the most scenic parts of the country. The camp handles all of the paperwork for you.

What if I Want To Stay in Canada Longer?

If you decide you’d like to stay in Canada longer than your visa allows you to, you’ll need to talk to the consulate and request an extension. If your permit is still valid, you can apply for an extension while you’re still in the country5. If your permit is about to expire, you will have to leave the country and apply for a new permit to be allowed to return and pursue work in the country. Do not violate the rules of your visa by overstaying, because this may make it harder to get it renewed.

How Long Does It Take To Process Visa Applications?

The length of time it takes to process a visa application depends on the type of visa and the country you reside in. At the time this guide was written, there were severe delays in the processing of visas due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, processing a temporary worker visa for a resident of the United Kingdom who was applying from outside Canada would take 225 days. You can check current processing times on the official government website6. Be sure to leave plenty of time for your application to be processed to avoid disappointment.

What Rights Do Foreign Workers Have?

Foreign workers have a lot of rights and protections7 in Canada. Employers are expected to comply with certain standards and regulations relating to health and safety, employment contracts and accommodations for lower-paid workers. If you are a foreign worker who feels you are being abused or that an employer has been negligent in some way, you can call the Service Canada Confidential Tip Line on (866) 602-9448 to report your concerns and request advice about the situation.

What Might Stop Someone From Getting a Canadian Work Permit?

An application for a work permit may be refused on several grounds:

A visa application can be returned if there is missing or incomplete information. In this case, the applicant can reapply without issue. If the application is refused, they may be permitted to appeal the decision or submit a new application.

Can My Spouse Come to Canada With Me?

Spouse visas are available for temporary foreign workers in Canada. However, if your spouse wishes to work in Canada too, they will need to apply for their own work permit. The rules surrounding spouse visas and work permits depend on the type of visa the main worker has. For example, spouses of highly skilled foreign workers can usually obtain a work permit without having yet had a job application accepted. It’s a good idea to seek advice from an immigration lawyer before applying for a spouse visa to ensure the process goes smoothly.

How Do I Get an Open Work Permit?

Open work permits are available to applicants who meet specific criteria, such as:

There are some other circumstances in which a person may be eligible for an open work permit. Tools are available online to assist in finding out if you are likely to meet the criteria to apply for an open work permit. Alternatively, visit your nearest embassy to ask for advice directly.

Changing or Extending a Work Permit

If you wish to change your job or stay in your job for longer than your permit allows, it’s important to request permission8 for this. Applications to extend a work permit should be made at least 30 days before the permit expires. There will be an application fee to pay for any request to vary the terms of a work permit, however — the fee starts at $155. If you fill out an application to extend a work permit and your permit expires before you receive a decision, you may be able to keep working under “maintained status” until your request is processed. Seek advice from an immigration lawyer if you’re not sure if you’re allowed to continue working or change jobs.

Lesley Harrison