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Obtaining a Canadian Work Permit – What are Your Options?

June 17, 2011

The process associated with obtaining a Canadian work permit can be confusing for businesses and individuals alike. While most clients are familiar with the concept of having to obtain a work permit in order to work in Canada on a temporary basis, very few are aware of how to go about accomplishing this task.

A common strategy is to simply enter a query into a search engine and navigate through endless amounts of information on how to obtain a work permit. This method may indeed prove useful to clients who wish to gain a general understanding of the work permit process. However, it is by no means a strategy that we would recommend when actually applying for a work permit.

The most common method of applying for a work permit is by first filing a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) application. In fact, some clients, unless informed otherwise, assume that they must go through the LMO process regardless of their personal circumstances – or that of their respective employers - and have resigned themselves to this. Of course, this is incorrect.

For those in practice, an LMO should been seen as a last rather than a first resort. A client’s work experience, job title, tenure with their company, job description in Canada, et cetera, are all relevant factors to consider when advising a client regarding the immigration category that best suits the individual applicant. For instance, clients that have worked in a managerial role with the same employer for a minimum period of one-year may qualify for a work permit as an intra-company transferee (ICT). ICT applicants are exempt from the normal requirements of first obtaining an LMO before being eligible to apply for a work permit. This category has certainly proved useful for many clients that have business operations in Canada or are planning to enter the Canadian market.

There are many LMO-exempt immigration categories that can provide clients with an easier and more cost-effective solution when faced with having to obtain work permits for themselves or employees of the company. These exemptions should be first examined when assessing a client’s eligibility for a work permit. Only once a client has exhausted all of the available exemptions should the subject of applying for an LMO be raised.

Tags: Canadian Business Immigration


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