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  • Writer's pictureImmergity Immigration

How to convert your Visitor Visa to Work Permit in Canada?

A recently extended Visitor Visa to Work Permit Public Policy lets you convert your tourist visa to Work Permit in Canada. This policy was created to help temporary foreign workers who have valid visitor visas find employment in Canada. It allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers without having to go through the lengthy LMIA process. The policy also allows employers to take on more skilled foreign workers and fill any labour shortages they may have.

Here are the eligibility requirements and the steps to convert your visitor visa to a work permit in Canada.

Eligibility Requirements

If you wish to convert your visitor visa to a work permit in Canada, there are a few requirements that must be met in order for you to be eligible.

  1. First, you must be inside Canada on a valid visitor visa. This includes - status extensions under subsection 183(5) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), that is, maintained status, at the time of work permit application submission

  2. Second, you must have a valid (Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) approved) job offer unless your job offer is exempt from a positive LMIA. In that case, you will need to submit the LMIA exempt letter of employment. Check our guide to LMIA here.

  3. Third, you need to submit an employer-specific work permit application using the Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker [IMM 5710]. All applications must be submitted electronically.

  4. Fourth, you must have remained in Canada with status since application submission and intends to remain in Canada throughout the period during which their work permit application is being processed

  5. Lastly, you must be admissible to Canada and be able to provide proof that you will depart Canada at the end of your work permit.

Note: Under the public policy that facilitates this transition, all applications must be submitted on or before February 28, 2023

Converting Visitor Visa to a Work Permit without an LMIA - Labour Market Impact Assessment.

You may qualify for an open work permit if:

  • your spouse / common-law partner has a study permit and is studying in a DLI and you are inside Canada on a valid visitor visa.

  • your spouse / common-law partner has a work permit and is working in occupations specified in NOC 2021 TEER 0,1,2 or 3, and you are inside Canada on a valid visitor visa.

  • your spouse / common-law partner is waiting for PR and has “approval in principal” status, and you are inside Canada on a valid visitor visa.

  • you have applied for Permanent Residence under Spousal Sponsorship, then you can apply for a spousal open work permit while you’re waiting for the decision on your PR application.

After You Apply

Once you have applied for your work permit, you will have to wait approximately 132 days for it to be approved. During this time, you cannot legally work in Canada. Once the work permit has been approved, you will have to complete the process of flagpoling to convert your visitor visa to a work permit.

Flagpoling allows temporary visitors to leave Canada through the US border and apply for their work permit from outside of the country. Upon approval, they can then re-enter Canada with their work permit.

Interim authorization to work in Canada

Since you need to wait for 132 days to receive an outcome on your change in status from a visitor visa to work permit holder, you may qualify for an interim authorization to work in Canada. The approval of an interim authorization to work will allow you to begin working while waiting for your Work Permit application decision.

So who can qualify for an interim authorization to work in Canada?

A former work permit holder who changed to visitor status may be eligible for interim authorization to work if they meet all of the following:

  • have valid temporary resident status at the time of work permit application submission and have stayed in Canada with status since;

  • held a valid work permit in the 12 months before the date on which they submitted their application for a work permit under this public policy, even though they are now only a visitor;

  • intend to work for the employer and occupation specified by the LMIA or LMIA-exempt offer of employment included in their work permit application submit;

  • have applied to IRCC for the interim authorization to work as per this public policy using the IRCC Web form;

  • have requested that the authorization to work be applicable until a decision is made on their work permit application.

Other useful links:

Canada's 2 year Temporary Open Work Permit Policy

Canada Work Permit Exemption

Changes to off- campus work hours in Canada

Canada's Post Graduation Work Permit

Spousal Open Work Permit

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