Relieving the labour shortage in Canada with Canadian work permits

There are several immigration programs to help overcome a labour shortage in Canada. However, relieving the labour shortage in Canada with Canadian work-permits is the key. The work permit application has long been recognized as a strategy to support labour market growth in Canada. People who are not Canadian need a work permit to work in Canada in most cases.

Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) related work permits

Most Canadian work permit applications that are employer-specific need to be analyzed through a process called the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), before submitting the official work permit application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Canadian employers who need to hire a foreign worker (s) must first submit the LMIA to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada to get an opinion. If positive, then the employee, or the third-party licensed immigration representative on their behalf, will submit the work permit application to IRCC for processing. Work permits requiring a LMIA are a relatively complex undertaking. It would be for the best interest of the employer to get help from an experienced and licensed Canadian representative for this process.

The latest good news for most LMIA work permit holders is, beginning January 30th 2023 open work permits may be issued to their spouse and dependent children. An open work permit allows the spouse and dependent children to work for almost any employer and not a specific one. Prior to this new update, spouses were only eligible for a work permit if the principal applicant was working in a high-skill occupation. Unfortunately, this new opportunity currently does not apply to the Seasonal and Agricultural Worker program.

Canadian work permits that do not require a LMIA

There are some Canadian work permits that do not require a LMIA such as those under the CUSMA agreement. What is CUSMA? It is the acronym for Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), formerly known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). CUSMA replaces NAFTA, which came into effect on July 1, 2020. Work permits under this agreement are categorized as Intra-Company Transferees and Professionals.

The agreement allows citizens of the United States and Mexico gain entry into Canada for temporary business or investment reasons at a Canadian land or airport port-of-entry making it a quick way to get a work permit. That is if they are qualified! 

CUSMA Intra-company Transferee

If you are the owner of a U.S. or Mexican company and would like to transfer your business and key employees to Canada, the intra-company transferee route may be the answer.  An intra-company transferee work permit is renewable up to 7 years for upper management and executive positions. Renewable up to five years for specialized employees. The following are important criteria for the employee to qualify:

  • They must be employed by the foreign company at the time of work permit application in a capacity that is considered managerial, executive, or involving specialized knowledge for at least one (1) year. AND
  • They must have worked continuously for their US or Mexican employer for at least one of the last three years in a similar position to the work being done in Canada

CUSMA Professional

The CUSMA work permit under the Professional category may be considered when the occupation falls under one of the 60 CUSMA occupations. The qualified U.S. or Mexican citizen professional must have a written job offer from an employer in Canada. Canadian work permits may be issued up to three years at a time and may be renewable indefinitely as long as the applicant does not intend to establish permanent residence in Canada.

Find following the List of eligible professions under the CUSMA Professionals category. It should be noted, the minimum requirement is a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree. In some professions a state or provincial license is acceptable. Refer to this link for more detail

  • Accountant    
  • Architect        
  • Computer Systems Analyst   
  • Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (claims Adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claim adjuster) 
  • Economist      
  • Engineer        
  • Forester         
  • Graphic Designer      
  • Hotel Manager (See note below for further details.)          
  • Industrial Designer    
  • Interior Designer       
  • Land Surveyor
  • Landscape Architect  
  • Lawyer (including Notary in the Province of Quebec)         
  • Librarian        
  • Management Consultant      
  • Mathematician (including statistician and Actuary)
  • Range Manager/Range Conservationalist   
  • Research assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)
  • Scientific Technician/ Technologist  
  • Social Worker
  • Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist) 
  • Technical Publications Writer
  • Urban Planner (including Geographer)        
  • Vocational Counsellor           
  • Medical/Allied Professional  
  • Dentist D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental; or state/provincial license
  • Dietitian         
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/ Medical Technologist (Mexico and the U.S.)

Note: A professional in this category must be seeking temporary entry to perform in a laboratory chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic or bacteriological tests and analyses for diagnosis, treatment or prevention of disease.

  • Nutritionist    
  • Occupational Therapist         
  • Pharmacist     
  • Physician (teaching or research only)    

Note: Physicians may not enter for the purpose of providing direct patient care. Patient care incidental to teaching and/or research is permissible.

  • Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist  
  • Psychologist   
  • Recreational Therapist 
  • Registered Nurse    

Note: To be authorized to enter Canada as a registered nurse, a licence issued by the province of destination is necessary.

  • Veterinarian  
  • Scientist
  • Agriculturist (including Agronomist)
  • Animal Breeder         
  • Animal Scientist        
  • Apiculturist    
  • Astronomer   
  • Biochemist     
  • Biologist
  • (including Plant Pathologist) 
  • Chemist         
  • Dairy Scientist
  • Entomologist 
  • Epidemiologist          
  • Geneticist      
  • Geologist       
  • Geochemist   
  • Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the U.S.)   
  • Horticulturist 
  • Meteorologist
  • Pharmacologist         
  • Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)       
  • Plant Breeder
  • Poultry Scientist        
  • Soil Scientist  
  • Zoologist        
  • Teacher
    • College          
    • Seminary       
    • University 

A Canadian work permit holder under CUSMA may work and live in Canada with their spouse and dependent children during the validity of the work permit. Furthermore, the accompanying spouse of the work permit holder is eligible to an open work permit while their minor children attend school.

With valid Canadian work permits travelling between the United States and Canada is seamless as long as you are admissible. Admissibility is justifying the Canadian legal requirements.

Tips prior to moving to Canada

If you are considering moving to Canada, following are some useful tips you will want to consider to help prepare for your journey.

  • Research Canada and the town or city you will be moving to before you go;
  • Find out about the job market, local culture and way of life to ensure you will fit in or how to integrate;
  • Research and learn about the area where you will work;
  • Enquire about the cost of living;
  • Research renting and housing costs, utilities, bank accounts, transportation, tax and Canadian laws;
  • People living and working in Canada have access to health care. As a result, they don’t have to pay directly for most health care services. You will need to apply for a health insurance card with the provincial ministry of health in your area. You should look into this as soon as you arrive;
  • Apply for a social insurance number. It is required to work, access government programs and file income tax;
  • Make a list of things you do;
  • Give yourself plenty of time and prepare in advance.

Contact us

Do not hesitate to contact me for information or advice on Canadian work permits through my website at   I have a vast amount of experience and can assist. I began my career in the immigration field 22 years ago assisting Canadian and U.S. employers, including various types of skilled workers from around the globe with their LMIA and work permit application process.