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Canada Immigration Information Work Permit


Individuals who will travel to Canada, other than on a Tourist or Business Visa, must obtain a Work Permit before entering Canada. Eligibility varies according to the citizenship of the applicant.
A foreign national employee may NOT convert his or her immigration status from a Visitor status to Work status while remaining in Canada. The employee can be present in Canada while the work permit application is being processed; however, the employee will not have authorisation to work. Once the work permit application is approved, the employee MUST depart and re-enter Canada to activate the work permit.

Types of Work Visas

The major types of Canadian work permit categories are as follows:

1. (NAFTA) North American Free Trade Agreement – (US and Mexican citizens only)

Applications under the following categories may be submitted to a Canadian Consulate or at the port of entry upon arrival.
Intra-company Transferees:

• Must have been employed by a US or Mexican entity for one year in the previous three prior to request for entry in Executive, Managerial, or Specialised Knowledge position.
• Must be entering Canada to work for an affiliated entity in the same capacity. Initial visa valid for 3 years with an extension granted up to 7 years for Executives/Managers and up to 5 years for Specialised Knowledge.

• Must be employed in a designated profession: ie, accountant, computer systems analyst, engineer, etc.
• Must possess appropriate degree and/or credentials.

Initial visa is valid for 1 year with annual extensions up to 3 years.

2. General Immigration Provisions – (Applies to all other nationals)

An application in this category should be submitted at a Canadian Consulate. Visa-exempt nationals may also be permitted to present their application at the port of entry upon arrival. Processing time will depend on the Consulate and can range from 5 business days to several months, depending on whether a medical exam is required or if the applicant is inadmissible due to his/her to criminal background.

Intra-company transferees (R205(a) CEC C12):
Applies to Senior Managers/Executives and Specialised Knowledge workers. Employees must have worked for at least one year of the previous three years in a similar position for the company.

Significant Benefit to Canada (R205(a) CEC C10):
Applicants in this category will most likely require HRDC (Human Resources Development Canada) Confirmation. To use this exemption, the benefits to Canada must be obvious. The exemption is intended to address those situations where the social, cultural or economic benefits to Canada of issuing a work permit are so clear and compelling that the importance of HRSDC Confirmation can be overcome.

Reciprocal employment (R205(b) CEC C20):
Reciprocal agreements between or within multinational companies allow workers to be employed in Canada. The onus is on the institutions and/or applicants to demonstrate that reciprocity exists. The central proviso is that similar access to positions must be available to Canadians as well.

Facilitated Entry for IT Workers:
This program applies to any national who falls into one of the seven IT job descriptions that have been identified as being in short supply in Canada. An applicant must be in possession of a degree, have 2-3 years related experience, and have experience or training in a designated list of IT technologies.

Foreign nationals not fitting the above criteria must obtain an HRSDC Confirmation from a Canadian Employment Center which require the Canadian employer to evidence that there are no Canadian citizens or permanent residents who can do the job. Following Confirmation approval, an application for a work permit is filed with a Canadian Consulate with jurisdiction over the applicant's place of residence, or at the port of entry in the case of visa-exempt nationals.

Documents Required for Work Permit

Work permit applications are generally filed at the Canadian Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over the applicant's usual place of residence. NAFTA applications can also be presented at the Port of Entry. At the discretion of the Port of Entry officer, it may be possible for visa exempt nationals to present their applications at the Port of Entry. Visa exempt nationals in possession of an HRSDC Confirmation can present their applications at the Port of Entry.

Required documents are:

• completed application form;
• original passport (for visa nationals) or copy of the identification page of passport (for visa-exempt nationals);
• company support letter or HRSDC Confirmation approval letter;
• two passport style photographs of the applicant and each accompanying family member;
• up-to-date resume;
• copy of academic credentials;
• the required application fee.

Depending on the Embassy or Consulate where the application is filed, additional documentation such as family composition form, police clearance certificate and medical examination report may be required.
Applications presented at the Port of Entry do not require items 1 and 4.

Processing Time

Processing time can vary from Consulate to Consulate and will depend on the workload of that particular office. Straightforward applications generally take 1-2 weeks to be processed. Applications requiring a medical examination may take up to 4-6 weeks to be processed.

Applications presented at the Port of Entry are processed while the applicant waits.

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