January 31, 2021

Work Permit Exemptions

Canada has many different categories of work permits and many exemptions to the temporary work permit requirement.

In specific situations, such as Business Visitors, individuals performing a specific type of work may be permitted to enter Canada without a temporary work permit.  Among jobs that do not require a work permit are clergy, crew members in the transportation industry, expert witnesses, performing artists, news reporters, film crews, and athletes and their coaches. A full list of the jobs that do not require a work permit can be found here.

Full time international students do not require a work permit in order to work in an on-campus job at their school.

Similarly, individuals who come to Canada for business but do not actually constitute a part of the labour market do not need a work permit for their business activities.  Canada lists the following as examples of tasks that could qualify under the business visitor category:

  • The purchase of Canadian services or products on behalf of a government or business
  • Processing orders for the purchase of Canadian products and services
  • The attending of conferences, conventions, business meetings or trade fairs
  • The facilitating of an after-sales service agreement (mainly supervision, no labour)
  • Receiving training from a Canadian branch of a parent company outside of Canada
  • Employee training within the Canadian subsidiary of a foreign parent company
  • On-site training from a Canadian company from which you have purchased products or services.

NOTE: One of the main elements to consider when determining whether a temporary work permit is required is the nature of the relationship between employer and employee.  An employer-employee relationship usually prevents eligibility for this exemption.

Being able to perform work in Canada without a work permit is an exceptional matter and foreign workers should expect to be required to obtain a temporary work permit. Canada interprets these exemptions narrowly.

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