Work in Canada

Last updated: June 6, 2019

Work in Canada

Pursuant to Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, foreign nationals may not work in Canada unless authorized to do so. This authorization happens by a work permit or the Regulations. According to the Regulations, work is defined as an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that is in direct competition with the activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market. If your activity in Canada fits this description, you will need a work permit.

Work Permit Exemption

In certain circumstances, the Regulations allow foreign nationals to work without a work permit. There are currently twenty five circumstances that are set out in the Regulations. Some of these are for:

  • business visitors*
  • foreign representatives*
  • members of the armed forces of a country other than Canada*
  • in-flight security officers*
  • full-time students*
  • performing artists*
  • participants in sports activities*
  • employees of a foreign news company*
  • guest speakers*
  • members of the executive committees of a convention or meeting*
  • persons providing spiritual counselling to a congregation*
  • judges, referees or similar officials in sports events*
  • examiners or evaluators of research proposals*
  • experts conducting surveys for federal or provincial regulatory bodies or courts of law*
  • students in a health field*
  • civil aviation inspectors*
  • aviation accident investigators*
  • members of a crew in international transportation*
  • providers of emergency services*

*Please note that the list is not exhaustive. There are further requirements for those listed as well. This list is only meant as a reference.