E Point Perfect

Common questions from newcomers about working in Canada


The validity of work permits varies, depending on the job offer or, in the case of international students, the length of the study program. If your goal is to obtain permanent resident status, you will need to keep renewing your work permit until you meet the requirements to apply (such as one year of full-time Canadian work experience). If you want to extend your permit, it is best to do so at least 30 days before its expiry date.

What do I need to legally work in Canada?

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and temporary residents all need a social insurance number (SIN) to work in Canada. Learn how to apply for your SIN. Once you get your number, keep it confidential—even though you need it for employment, you should not share your SIN when applying for jobs (or housing). Only provide your SIN to an employer once you have been hired; they will need it for income tax purposes.

Can refugees work in Canada?

If you arrived in Canada as a refugee, you can work or study while you wait for the government’s decision on your refugee claim. You will need to apply for a work or study permit. If you didn’t submit a work permit when you filed your claim, you can file for it separately. A study permit has to be filed separately. Fees for these permits are free while you wait for the results of your claim.

How many hours can international students work in Canada?

If you’re an international student, you can apply for a work permit that allows you to work up to 20 hours per week during regular school terms. (To help address labour shortages, the Government of Canada has temporarily suspended the 20-hour limit, from Nov. 15, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2023.) On school breaks, such as holidays or Reading Week, there is no set limit to the number of hours you can work, provided your employer complies with labour rules. For on-campus job opportunities, you don’t need a work permit, and there are no limits on how many hours you can work.

If you want to stay in Canada after you complete your studies, you can apply for a post-graduate work permit (PGWP), which allows you to work full-time. After a year of working full-time in Canada in select National Occupational Classification (NOC), international students can apply for permanent residency.

Can I change a tourist visa to a work visa in Canada?

There’s another pathway to working in Canada: A tourist or visitor visa can be converted into a work permit if you get a job offer. However, this is not the easiest way to go. You will need to successfully apply for a job, and the employer will need to justify hiring a foreigner rather than a Canadian, by filling out a LMIA document and submitting it to Employment and Social Development Canada. If it approved, only then can you apply for a work permit (and a visa, if you’re not yet in the country).

What is the legal age to work in Canada?

The legal age to work in Canada depends on the province, industry and type of work. Some jobs for youth may require a work permit and parent/guardian consent regardless of immigration status, such as jobs in entertainment. It is best to check the employment standards in the province or territory where you wish to work.

How do I find work in Canada?

After getting your SIN, the next step is to look for job opportunities. For this task, help is at hand: There are many government-funded agencies and non-profit organizations that offer free job search services, such as finding job postings and job boards (such as the Government of Canada’s Job Bank), resumé writing and interview practice. Some agencies even offer services in different languages. To help newcomers improve their proficiency in Canada’s two official languages—English and French—there are agencies that offer free language classes.


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