Open Work Permit (International Mobility Program)

An open work permit allows the foreign worker to work for any employer during the duration of their work permit. A closed work permit ties the foreign worker to a specific employer and job position.

Under the International Mobility Program, an open work permit enables a person to work for any employer for a specified period of time. An open restricted permit may restrict the occupation or location but not the employer. An open work permit can be issued to a foreign national only under one of the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions.

Open work permit LMIA exemption categories

  • Refugee claimants and those under an unenforceable removal order
  • Applicants for permanent residence from within Canada
  • Humanitarian reasons
  • Certain workers authorized to enter Canada on a reciprocal basis:
    • Canada World Youth Program participants
    • International Experience Canada: Working Holiday participants
    • family members of foreign representatives and of military personnel who are LMIA-exempt, where a reciprocal arrangement exists
    • professional athletes who are authorized to enter Canada on the basis of exemption C20 and who require other work to support themselves while playing for a Canadian team
  • Spouses or common-law partners of skilled workers
  • Spouses or common-law partners of foreign students
  • Bridging open work permits
  • Open work permit pilot program for permanent residence applicants in the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class
  • Post graduate work permits
  • Post-secondary co-op and secondary co-op
Employer-specific work permits (closed work permit)

An employer-specific work permit allows you to work according to the conditions on your work permit, which include:

  • the name of the employer you can work for 
  • how long you can work
  • the location where you can work (if applicable)
LMIA Based Work Permits

In order to receive a Canadian work permit, the foreign worker and employer must first submit a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to the EDSC. An LMIA assessment ensures that the foreign worker will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labor market. An LMIA approval authorizes the Canadian employer to hire a temporary foreign worker and initiate a work permit. The work permit application is submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for approval.

Work Permits covered by international treaties

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Within the following categories, U.S. and Mexico citizens need a job offer, but don’t need an LMIA.

  • business visitors
  • professionals
  • intra-company transferees
  • traders and investors

Canada–Chile Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA)

The Canada–Chile Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) makes it easier for Chileans citizens to enter Canada on a temporary basis. In terms of rules and regulations, the CCFTA is similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Foreign nationals who provide services in Canada and work for World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries may obtain a work permit without an approved job offer in the following cases:

  • Business visitors
  • Professionals
  • Intra-company transferees