Essential Employment Paperwork in Canada



Almost annually, thousands of foreign assignees go to Canada to work in various jobs particularly in sectors where there are temporary skill shortages. Though the process of getting employed in this country is straightforward, expats must first secure all the relevant paperwork for legal purposes.

First and foremost, expats must check if they are from a visa-exempt country because as per the latest Canadian travel requirement, foreign nationals coming from the United States and visa-exempt nations only need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation. The eTa is an electronic authorisation linked to the passport and is usually valid for five years. Expatriates who are from non-visa exempt countries need to apply first for a work permit then a visa.

Work Permit

The next step after an expat receives a job offer from a Canadian company is to get a work permit. One of the most important requirements when obtaining a work permit is the Labour Market Opinion (LMO). It is the duty of the expatriate’s employer to request for an LMO by satisfying the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) that they have advertised the job post across the country for 90 days and hiring foreign nationals is the best thing to do for the Canadian labour market.

Keep in mind though that Canadian work permits have specific purposes and are classified into two:

  • Open Work Permit – allows its holder to work anywhere in Canada
  • Employer-Specific Work Permit – This type of permit prohibits its holder to stray from the conditions stated in his/her visa. It is particular to the location, duration of the employment and employer the expat is allowed to work for.

Temporary Residence vs Permanent Residence

Once the expats receive the written confirmation of the LMO and work permit, they can proceed to the Canadian Embassy/Consulate in their home country to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Permanent Residency. Both types of permits allow the holder to seek employment in Canada, but the main difference between the two is that the TRV is usually valid for four years and is granted to expats who will work in the country to fill a temporary skills shortage. The permanent residence, on the other hand, is for foreign nationals who wish to stay in Canada on a long-term basis and entitles its holder to take advantage of several social system benefits such as health care. Some of the required documents needed when applying for either of the two visas are:

  • Passport
  • Work Permit/LMO
  • Medical Exam proving that the applicant is healthy
  • Police Clearance certificates

Canadian Social Insurance Number

Expats who will work in Canada should also obtain a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card by presenting their passport and valid work permit at the office of the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).