Visas & Work Permits

The general rule is that anyone wishing to work in Canada needs a work permit. Work can include non-paid work. Some foreign nationals, such as U.S. citizens, often have a facilitated way to get a work permit by virtue of certain international treaties (for example, “NAFTA”). CLG lawyers can prepare work permit applications for those nationals who qualify, and the work permit can be obtained directly at the Port of Entry in most cases. In addition to preparing the case, CLG lawyers ensure that the employee is properly coached and prepared to answer questions before they apply at the border, and if necessary, we can accompany them.

For foreign nationals who do not qualify under a treaty, the usual process to work temporarily in Canada is through an application by the employer for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Service Canada. This application is needed to basically “prove” that there is no Canadian or permanent resident that can do the job sought by the foreign worker. The process can involve some minimum advertising for the position by the employer. The LMIA can take several weeks, but there is now a new Accelerated LMIA process which can significantly improve processing times for employers. CLG lawyers assist the employer and the foreign worker with each step of the LMIA process, including the advertizing and monitoring of the position.

Once a positive LMIA is granted, we assist the employee in applying to CIC for a Work Permit. This is done either from their home country (varying wait times), or from the U.S. depending on their current status of the foreign worker in the U.S

In Québec, the LMIA process is quite different. It is called a “Certificat d’acceptation du Québec,” which needs to receive both the Provincial and Federal “blessing.”

A Canadian work permit can be the first step towards obtaining permanent residence in Canada. Contact us to find out how. CONTACT US


An employer may be able to transfer employees to and from Canada through an inter-company transfer visa. This visa is the basic equivalent of the L1 visa in the U.S.A. but has important differences from its US counterpart. It essentially allows for a transfer of an employee to the Canada corporate branch if this would “create or maintain significant social, cultural or economic benefits or opportunities” for Canadians.

Transfers are possible for qualifying Senior Managers, Executives and Specialized Workers. They do not need to obtain an LMIA. The employee can be sent from the foreign branch to a Canadian branch of an international company which “is or will be doing business” in Canada. The mere presence of an agent or officer in Canada is not sufficient, but someone seeking entry to open a new office in Canada may qualify.

The key aspect of this transfer visa is that the employee must have worked at least 1 year continuously in the previous 3 years in a similar full time position for the company that plans to transfer them to Canada. Short term work project permits are allowed. There are many other requirements to transfer visas.