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Canada provides more than 100 distinct routes for individuals from abroad to temporarily work in the country. These pathways are categorized under:


The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is intended to be used when you’re facing short-term skills and labour shortages, and only when no Canadians and permanent residents are available. To hire a Temporary Foreign Worker Program, you need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).


A LMIA is a document that serves as proof that:

  • there is a need for a temporary foreign worker

  • no Canadian citizen or a permanent resident is available to do the job

Though foreign workers require a work permit to work in Canada, there are a few exemptions. The categories that are exempted are:


Business Visitors

Enables individuals involved in business or trade activities in Canada to enter the country without participating in the Canadian labor market.

Business Visitors can further be categorized as:

  • After sales service

  • Board of Directors Meeting

  • Employees of Short-Term Temporary Residents

  • Employees of Foreign Companies Contracting Canadian Companies

Foreign Representatives and their Family Members

Foreign representatives, accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), as well as their personal staff and family members, may work in Canada without a work permit. Diplomatic representatives to United Nations offices in Canada are also covered by this exception.

Military Personnel

Military and civilian personnel in Canada under the auspices of the Visiting Forces Act may work and study without permits. The families of these individuals are also covered by these exemptions. Civilians and family members are still required to obtain these documents, if necessary. 

Foreign Government Officers

Canada has agreements with other nations facilitating the exchange of government employees. These agreements allow foreign workers to come to Canada and work for a federal or provincial government department or agency. Family members of these officers typically receive open work permits or are exempted from permit requirements while in Canada.

American Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Officers

Certain cross-border law enforcement vessels are operated by combined Canadian and American crews. These personnel work on both sides of the US/Canada border. While in Canadian territory, American crew members can perform their job responsibilities without requiring additional work authorization.

In-Flight Security Officers

Foreign In-Flight Security Officers (IFSOs) are appointed by foreign governments to enforce safety measures on foreign aircraft. As they are appointed by a foreign government, they can operate in Canada without needing a work permit, given that their responsibilities are limited to ensuring security onboard foreign aircraft.
IFSOs from countries mandating a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) for entry into Canada must obtain this visa to carry out their duties in Canadian airspace.


On-Campus Employment

A student is eligible to work on-campus at their institution of study provided they hold a valid study permit; and they are pursuing the course of study at a designated institution. 

Performing Artists

While many foreign performing artists may work in Canada without a work permit, some types of performers/performances require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and Work Permit.

Athletes and Team Members

Athletes, whether professional or amateur, have the opportunity to come to Canada to take part in sports activities or events either on their own or as part of a team. Similarly, foreign coaches, trainers, and other essential team personnel may also travel to Canada to participate in such events.

News Reporters, Media Crews

News reporters and their crews who travel to Canada to cover events within the country are allowed to do so without requiring a work permit.

Public Speakers

Guest speakers at events, commercial speakers- unless they are hired by a Canadian entity, and seminar leaders can present in Canada with the work permit for a period no longer than five days. 

Convention Organizers

Individuals who come to Canada to organize events like corporate meetings, trade shows, exhibitions, conventions or conferences, as well as the administrative support staff of the organizing committee fall in this category.


Preachers, individuals who oversee religious services, or provide spiritual counseling as a profession may work in Canada without a work permit.

Judges, Referees, and Similar Officials

Judges, referees, etc, who visit Canada to participate in international amateur sports, artistic, agricultural or cultural events and competitions are exempted from work visa.

Examiners and Evaluators

Professors and evaluators who are visiting Canada to examine, evaluate a project or thesis by their students do not require work permit.

Expert Witnesses and Investigators

Professionals required to enter Canada to conduct surveys or analyses, serving as evidence or to testify as expert witnesses in front of a regulatory body or court, are permitted to do so without needing a work permit.

Health Care Students

Students enrolled in programs such as medicine, nursing, medical technology, and occupational and physical therapy may engage in unpaid practicums lasting up to four months that do not require work permit. However, health care students from abroad who will receive payment for their work or intend to stay in Canada for more than four months must obtain a work permit.

Civil Aviation Inspectors

Flight operations and cabin safety inspectors at commercial international flights do not require a work permit. 

Aviation or Accident Investigators

Accredited representatives and advisors who are assisting in the investigation of an aviation accident or incident do not require a work permit.


Crew members do not need a work permit.

Emergency Service Providers

Workers who provide services in times of emergency do not require a work permit. 

Maintained Status

Individuals whose work permit has expired can work on a maintained status, provided that they applied for a new work permit before the original expired.

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