Those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents will need to have a valid work permit to work in Canada. There are many types of work permits available and you will need to assess which option is best given the candidate’s citizenship, education and experience.
For the education sector, the most common work permit options are:
- North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
- Spousal Employment Program
- Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP)
- Labour Market Opinion (LMO)
Under NAFTA, over 60 professional occupations are eligible for work permits. The following are eligibility requirements:
- the employee must be a citizen of the US or Mexico ,
- the position must match one of the more than 60 jobs eligible under NAFTA and
- the employee must meet the minimum education or experience requirements for the position as defined by the National Occupation Classification
Under the Spousal Employment Program, one spouse can apply for a work permit as long as the other spouse holds a work permit that is valid for at least six months.
A spouse refers to a legally married or common law partner (living together for at least 12 months) of the same sex or opposite sex.
For a spouse to apply for a work permit, the employee must:
- hold a work permit that is valid for at least six months, and
- be working in a job classified as skill level O (management), A (requiring university-level education) or B (requiring college-level education or apprenticeship training) by the National Classification Code.
Under the Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP), employers can offer a 12-month work permit to employees who are from certain countries and within certain age ranges. SWAP applies to select positions only and to an age range of 18 to 35 (although some countries have different age criteria).
The Labour Market Opinion process applies to all positions, but is best suited to those positions that are considered Occupations Under Pressure.
Applying for a work permit under the Labour Market Opinion process involves two steps:
- Making a Foreign Worker Application (application for a Labour Market Opinion) to Service Canada. This step can be completed prior to identifying a suitable candidate. A pre-approval request allows the later stages of recruitment to run in conjunction with the application process.
- Applying for the work permit through Citizenship and Immigration Canada.