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The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) specifies that the worker class is a class of persons who may become temporary residents. A worker may be authorized to work without a work permit R186, or may be authorized to work by the issuance of a work permit pursuant to Part 11 of the Regulations.

Definition of Work in the IRPR

Section R2 defines Work as an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.

Below are some of the examples of activities for which a person would not normally be remunerated or which would not compete directly with Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents in the Canadian labour market and which would normally be part-time or incidental to the reason that the person is in Canada:

  • volunteer work for which a person would not normally be remunerated, such as sitting on the board of a charity or religious institution (Normally this activity would be part time and incidental to the main reason that a person is in Canada);
  • unremunerated help by a friend or family member during a visit, such as a mother assisting a daughter with childcare, or an uncle helping his nephew build his own cottage;
  • long distance (by telephone or internet) work done by a temporary resident whose employer is outside Canada and who is remunerated from outside Canada;
  • self-employment where the work to be done would have no real impact on the labour market, nor really provide an opportunity for Canadians. Examples include a U.S. farmer crossing the border to work on fields that he owns, or a miner coming to work on his own claim.

There may be other types of unpaid short-term work where the work is really incidental to the main reason that a person is visiting Canada and is not a competitive activity, even though nonmonetary valuable consideration is received. For instance, if a tourist wishes to stay on a family farm and work part time just for room and board for a short period (i.e., 1-4 weeks), this person would not be considered a worker.


You must demonstrate that you meet the requirements of the IRPA and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and that you will be in Canada for a temporary stay. You must also:

  • satisfy an officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your employment,
  • show that you have enough money during your stay in Canada to take care of yourself and your family members and to return home,
  • be law-abiding and have no record of criminal activity (you may be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate),
  • not be a danger to the security of Canada,
  • be in good health and complete a medical examination, if required,
  • not intend to engage in employment with an employer on the List of Ineligible Employers,
  • not have worked in Canada for one or more periods totalling four years after April 1, 2011 (with certain exceptions),
  • provide any additional documents requested by the officer to establish your admissibility.

Cumulative duration

Starting on April 1, 2011, you will be able to work in Canada for a maximum period of four years. Therefore, you will need to start counting the time you work in Canada as of April 1, 2011. However, there are some exceptions to this rule if:

  • the work you intend to do in Canada creates or maintains significant social, cultural or economic benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents,
  • the work you intend to do in Canada relates to an international agreement between Canada and one or more countries (including seasonal agricultural workers),
  • your work is done while you are authorized to study,
  • 48 months have passed since you accumulated 4 years of work in Canada.

If you do not work during the entire specified period on your work permit (for example you have a work permit valid for four years and you are sick or you leave temporarily Canada), you may need to submit proof of time not worked when you apply for another work permit later on and you are close to the four-year maximum. Examples of proof documents include but are not limited to:

  • passport entry and exit stamps,
  • Record of Employment from Service Canada,
  • receipt of severance pay,
  • letter from a foreign educational institution where you attended school,
  • travel receipts (tickets, boarding passes),
  • proof of receipt of maternity/parental benefits,
  • letter from physician confirming you were on medical leave,
  • any other document that demonstrates that you were not working in Canada while on a work permit.

Labour Market Opinion

A Labour Market Opinion (LMO) is the opinion provided by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) to the officer which enables the officer to determine whether the employment of the foreign worker is likely to have a positive or negative impact on the labour market in Canada. A LMO may be required in order for a work permit to be issued.

The LMO process begins by the prospective employer submitting an LMO application to the HRSDC. The HRSDC will consider several factors, including the availability of Canadians and the offered wages as well as the economic benefit the foreign worker would bring to Canada. HRSDC will then provide its opinion to the CIC.

The LMO is typically given for a specific period of time, and the work permit issued will coincide with that period. Renewal of a work permit beyond the specified period will likely require a new LMO.

Effective April 1, 2011, HRSDC/SC will add the following evaluations to the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) process:

  • assessment of the genuineness of the offer of employment and
    whether or not, over the past two years, employers who have hired foreign workers, provided wages, working conditions and employment in an occupation that were substantially the same as those listed in the offer of employment.

Labour Market Opinions for Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP):
Canadian employers who would like to offer a permanent job to a foreign national wanting to immigrate to Canada can support their application for permanent residence and facilitate Arranged Employment with a qualifying job offer under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

Labour Market Opinions for Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP):
Canadian employers who would like to offer a job to a foreign national wanting to work on temporary basis in Canada can do so with a qualifying job offer under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The foreign national can be either a Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) already in Canada, or someone abroad.  As the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is designed to help employers fill short-term gaps in Canada’s labour market, most temporary foreign workers are limited to working in Canada for four years before having to return to their home country. Most Temporary Foreign Workers have the opportunity to apply for permanent residence if that is their desire, and limiting the amount of time they may work in Canada with a temporary status encourages them to do so.

Work without a Work Permit

You may not need a work permit if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • R186(a)—Business visitor
  • R186(b)—Foreign representatives
  • R186(c)—Family members of foreign representatives
  • R186(d)—Military personnel
  • R186(e)—Foreign government officers
  • R186(f)—On-campus employment
  • R186(g)—Performing artists
  • R186(h)—Athletes and coaches
  • R186(i)—News reporters, media crews
  • R186(j)—Public speakers
  • R186(k)—Convention organizers
  • R186(l)—Clergy
  • R186(m)—Judges, referees and similar officials
  • R186(n)—Examiners and evaluators
  • R186(o)—Expert witnesses or investigators
  • R186(p)—Health care students
  • R186(q)—Civil aviation inspector
  • R186(r)—Aviation accident or incident inspector
  • R186(s)—Crew
  • R186(t)—Emergency service providers
  • R186(u)—Implied status

For all other types of work, you must apply for a work permit which either requires LMO (R203) or is LMO exempt (R204, R205, R206, and R207).

Our goal is to provide each client with a successful outcome by determining the most appropriate solution. If you would like to know whether you could be eligible to immigrate to Canada, we invite you to complete our online assessment questionnaire.

If you are interested in seeking professional assistance to guide you through the immigration process or if you have any questions, please contact us.