Working abroad is a great opportunity for people looking to gain international work experience while also enjoying the freshness and individuality of a different country. This is especially so when that country is Canada!
Work permits are required for foreign workers who wish to enter Canada to work on a temporary basis. Canadian immigration facilitates this to meet economic demands and to and ease skill shortages in Canada. The particular type of work shortages will depend and vary in any given time. The list is always updated on the IRCC website.
If you are currently residing in a country outside of Canada and wish to apply for a work permit, there are several mandatory documents that you must have ready for submission.
Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP)
If you are currently working in Canada on a work permit, which is soon to expire and you have submitted an application for permanent residence through the Express Entry system, you may be eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP). As the name suggests, a BOWP is issued to bridge the gap between the expiry of the work permit and the final decision on a permanent residence application.
When to apply for a BOWP?
After an electronic application for permanent residence (e-APR) is submitted, an Acknowledgement of Receipt letter is generated in the applicant’s online portal. This letter provides a file number and confirms that the application has been received. Applicants who are eligible for a BOWP may apply immediately after receipt of this letter.
Eligibility for a BOWP
In order to be eligible for a BOWP, the e-APR must first pass a completeness check. This means that an Immigration Officer has done an initial assessment of the application and has verified that all necessary information and documentation has been received. If the completeness check is successful, the application for a BOWP will then be processed. If the e-APR is found to be incomplete, the application for permanent residence will be rejected and the application for a BOWP will be refused. Therefore, if you are relying on a BOWP to continue working in Canada, it is very important that your permanent residence application is completed accurately with the assistance of an immigration lawyer. If your application is rejected and your work permit has expired, you will be unable to submit another BOWP application with the new e-APR.
In addition to passing the completeness check, to be eligible for a BOWP an applicant must:
- be currently in Canada;
- have valid status on a work permit that is due to expire within the next few months;
- be the main applicant on the permanent residence application submitted; and
- have submitted an application for an open work permit.
Labour Market Impact Assessment Based Work Permit
A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada and is required in order to apply for most Canadian work permits. Prior to submitting the application for an LMIA, the employer must advertise and Job Bank must be one of the sources.
The foreign workers must show that they meet all the requirements of the position (i.e. education, experience, skills) as listed in the LMIA application.
The positive LMIA is provided by ESDC/Service Canada to the employer, who will give it to the foreign worker to submit with his/her application for a work permit. If granted, the work permit is typically issued for one year. There are shorter processing times of 10 days available for eligible highest-demand, highest paid and shortest duration occupations, i.e. skilled trades within top 10% of pay bracket and for positions that are less than 120 days.
The Application for an LMIA has the same requirements as the LMIAs for Express Entry and Permanent Residence, hence receives the same scrutiny from ESDC. As such, it is important that you retain the services of an immigration lawyer to ensure the best chances possible for your case.
Understanding Labour Market Impact Assessments
Employers looking to hire foreign nationals need to get what’s called a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before the foreign national can apply for a work permit to begin work in Canada. An LMIA is a document from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that gives the employer permission to hire a temporary worker.
In most cases, employers are required to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before they can hire foreign workers. In order to obtain a positive LMIA, a Canadian employer must prove that there is no Canadian or permanent resident worker available to complete the job in question and a foreign worker is therefore required.
LMIA applications should show the following:
- efforts made to recruit available Canadian citizens/permanent residents;
- wages offered for the position are consistent with the prevailing wage rate paid to Canadians/permanent residents in the same occupation in the region;
- working conditions for the occupation meets the current provincial labour market standards;
- any potential benefits that hiring a foreign worker might bring to the Canadian labour market, such as the creation of new jobs or the transfer of skills and knowledge; and
- transition plans will be required for high-wage positions whereby employers must demonstrate increased efforts to hire Canadians in the long-term.
The above-noted is for the employer to demonstrate. Where successful, the positive LMIA is provided to the foreign worker to submit with his/her application for a work permit, which is typically issued for one year if granted.