How US residents can work in Canada

Posted June 30, 2022 1:00 PM EDT

Most US residents need a work permit to work in Canada.

Work permits in Canada fall into two categories. The first category includes a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

The federal government of Canada uses the LMIA to determine how the hiring of foreign workers may affect the wages and employment of workers in Canada. Some job openings require an LMIA and therefore employers in Canada must petition the federal government and obtain a positive or neutral LMIA before bringing in the foreign worker.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with Cohen Immigration Law Firm

The second category does not require an LMIA. In this category, LMIAs are not required due to Canada’s economic and social interests. US citizens, for example, may be eligible for an LMIA-exempt work permit under the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA). U.S. citizens have greater flexibility to work in Canada under CUSMA if they have employment available through their current employer or a new employer, or if they are going to engage in substantial investments or doing business in Canada.

The type of work permit you need depends on the type of work you will be doing. If you have just transferred within the same company to a branch in Canada, you may be able to do so as part of an intra-company transfer.

Some professions and tech companies will allow you to move to Canada in about four weeks through the Global Talent Stream. The hiring process under this accelerated program involves meeting certain requirements, such as completing an LMIA and committing to certain salary requirements, among others.

It is important to note that coming to Canada as a foreign worker is an advantage if you wish to immigrate. Many of Canada’s Economic Class immigration streams offer more points or are designed for foreign nationals who have Canadian work experience. For example, you can earn more points under Express Entry for work experience completed in Canada.

Work without a work permit in Canada

In many cases, business visitors to Canada do not need a Canadian work permit.

A business visitor is a foreign national who comes to Canada to participate in international business activities, but who will not enter the Canadian labor market.

Subject to the nature of the work, some business visitors may enter the country to conduct business or trade without the need for a work permit.

Business visitors to Canada must demonstrate the following:

  • they plan to stay less than six months,
  • they do not plan to enter the Canadian labor market,
  • the principal place of business and the source of income and profits are outside of Canada,
  • they have documents to support their claim and
  • they meet Canada’s basic entry requirements because they have a valid travel document, such as a passport; have enough money for their stay and to return home, plan to leave Canada at the end of their stay; and do not pose a criminal, security or health risk to Canadians.

There are a number of reasons a person may come to Canada as a business visitor, including:

  • Attend business meetings, conferences, congresses, fairs, etc.
  • Purchasing Canadian goods or services on behalf of a foreign entity;
  • Take orders for goods or services;
  • Provide after-sales service, excluding manual labor in the construction trades;
  • Be trained by a Canadian parent company to work outside of Canada; and
  • Training of employees of a Canadian subsidiary of a foreign company.

Business visitors to Canada may need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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