How to Obtain a Temporary Working Visa in Canada

by Alejandro Russell

According to, around 200,000 foreign professionals obtain temporary work permits in Canada ever year. A temporary working visa is issued for a specific job and expires after a limited time frame. All foreigners applying for this document must have entered the county legally. Only those with a written temporary job offer or contract from an employer in Canada can apply for the visa. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) issues a temporary working visa after the applicant follows all the necessary steps.

Application for Labor Market Opinion by Employer

A Canadian employer offering work to foreign professionals needs to obtain a Labor Market Opinion, or LMO, from HRSDC. This is to confirm that there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident available for the position. A positive LMO gives the employer the go-ahead to hire the foreign worker. However, there are some exceptions to this rule that let a foreign worker get a permit without the LMO. These include international students in need of co-op placements; religious or charitable workers; people working under international agreements such as NAFTA; spouses of those with authorization to work in Canada; those on exchange programs; and foreign employees whose work significantly benefits Canada either culturally, economically or socially.

Extending Job Offer

After HRSDC issues a positive LMO, the Canadian employer is at liberty to officially issue the foreign worker with a temporary job offer. This is done by sending the foreign worker a job offer letter and a copy of the accepted LMO.

Applying for the Work Permit

A foreign professional can apply for a Canadian temporary work permit from HRSDC using the positive LMO and the detailed temporary job offer letter sent by the employer. Foreign professionals working for employers based in Quebec province need to get a Certificat d'acceptation du Québec. This additional document enables them to work in the province on a temporary basis.

Getting a Work Permit

A Canadian border officer issues the foreign worker with a temporary work permit upon the worker's arrival in the country. Some foreign workers from certain countries may also need to get a Temporary Resident Visa to enter the country. A temporary work permit expires after a limited period of time. Those who want to stay longer must go through the immigration process, which improves the chances of a foreign worker qualifying for permanent residency through the Provincial Nominee Programs and Canadian Experience Class.