Many people think that if you’re not Canadian or haven’t lived there for at least three years, the only way to work in Canada is to get a work permit. However, certain circumstances can allow foreign nationals who don’t possess one of these permits to enter into employment with their employers without any problems whatsoever!

This page will talk about what those situations entail. So make sure your knowledge bank on these topics contains everything necessary before taking off across the border for an adventure abroad.

Job Types That Do Not Need A Work Permit

It’s important to note that certain jobs do not require a work permit in Canada. The following list includes some common examples, and it does not mean you will automatically receive one of these exemptions, but your job must meet all requirements for exemption as well!

  • Athlete or coach
  • Business visitor
  • Aviation accident and incident investigator
  • Civil aviation inspector
  • Convention organizer
  • Clergy
  • Examiner and evaluator
  • Investigator
  • Foreign government representative or officer 
  • Judge, referee or similar official
  • Military personnel
  • Public speaker
  • Health care student
  • Crew member
  • Short-term researcher
  • Performing artist
  • Producer or staff members who are working on advertisements
  • Short-term highly-skilled worker
  • Emergency service provider
  • Student working off-campus
  • News reporter or from film and media crew
  • Family member of any foreign representative
  • Student working on-campus

If a foreign national in the list of jobs or possibilities above is employed, they may be eligible for an exemption or relief from work permit requirements.

Short-Term Work Permit

As a foreign national living outside of Canada, it’s possible to apply for the short-term work permit exemption. However, you cannot do so if you reside within your home country, as this would make you eligible under Canadian law and subject them to strict immigration rules themselves!

To work in Canada as a business visitor

You’re coming to Canada to do business activities, but you will not be part of the Canadian labour market.
*If this describes you, you do not need a work permit.


Note: “Business people” does not mean the same thing as “business visitor.” Make sure you understand the difference because “business people” usually need work permits.

To work in Canada as a civil aviation inspector

You check commercial airlines’ flight operations or cabin safety during international flights.
If this describes you, you do not need a work permit.

To work in Canada as an emergency service provider

You will help out in an emergency. You will be in Canada to help preserve life or property. Emergencies include natural
You will help out in an emergency. You will be in Canada to help preserve life or property. Emergencies include natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, or industrial accidents that threaten the environment.

✔ If this describes you, you do not need a work permit.

To work in Canada as a convention organizer

You organize or run international meetings or conventions.

✔ If this describes you, you do not need a work permit.


Note: If you provide “hands-on” services at these events, you must have a work permit. These services include providing audiovisual services, doing show decorating and building, and setting up and taking down displays.

To work in Canada as a crew member

You may be a truck driver, bus driver, or shipping or airline worker.
If this describes you, you do not need a work permit if:

  • You’re working on foreign-owned and registered vehicles that are used mainly to transport cargo and passengers internationally, and
  • Your work is related to operating vehicles or serving passengers.

If you do not meet these conditions, you need a work permit.

To work in Canada as a member of the clergy

You’re an ordained minister, layperson, or member of a religious order. Your duties may include preaching doctrine, leading worship, or giving spiritual counselling.

If this describes you, you do not need a work permit.

To work in Canada as an expert witness or investigator

You will give evidence before a regulatory body, tribunal, or court of law.

If this describes you, you do not need a work permit.

To work in Canada as an examiner and evaluator

You’re a professor or academic expert who evaluates or supervises academic projects, research proposals, or university theses. You may work for Canadian research groups or schools.

If this describes you, you do not need a work permit.

To work in Canada as a health care student

You do not need a work permit if you meet the following conditions:

  • You’re doing clinical clerkships.
  • The main goal of your work is training.
  • You have written approval from the board that regulates your job (note that certain provinces do not need written approval); and
  • Your training will last less than four months.

If your training will last more than four months, or if you do not meet the other conditions listed above, you need a work permit. You may be eligible for an employer-specific work permit if:

  • You will work for a Canadian employer that does not have an “ineligible” status on the list of employers who failed to comply with the conditions, and
  • You meet the general eligibility requirements for a work permit.

Before you submit your work permit application, your employer must:

  • Submit an offer of employment to immigrants, refugees and citizens of Canada,
  • Pay A $230 employer compliance fee, and
  • Provide you with an offer of employment number.

Note: When you complete your work permit application, select “Exemption from Labour Market Impact Assessment” as the type of work permit in the “Details of intended work in Canada” section.

To work in Canada as a family member of a foreign representative

You do not need a work permit if you meet these three requirements:

  • You’re the spouse or child of a foreign representative.
  • You’re accredited (with a counterfoil in your passport) by Global Affairs Canada (GAC).
  • You have a letter of no objection from GAC (usually issued only if there is a reciprocal employment arrangement with your home country). To find out how to get this letter, contact GAC’s protocol office.

If you do not meet these requirements, you need a work permit.

To work in Canada as a foreign government officer or representative

You do not need a work permit if you’re:

  • An employee of another government working under an exchange agreement that lets officials work in government departments in Canada and your country.
  • A diplomat or official representative of another country, Or
  • A diplomat or official representative of the United Nations and its staff.

Note: Employees of other governments must have a formal letter if they will work there for more than three months.

If you’re any other foreign government officer or representative, you need a work permit.

To work in Canada as a judge, referee or similar official

You’re an official at an international amateur competition who will judge or be an official for an artistic or cultural event, such as:

  • A music and dance festival,
  • An animal show.
  • An agricultural contest.

If this describes you, you do not need a work permit.

To work in Canada as a news reporter or as part of a film or media crew

You’re:

  • A news reporter or member of a reporter’s crew.
  • A member of a Film or media crew who will not enter the Canadian Labour market.
  • A journalist who works for a print, broadcast or internet news service (journal, newspaper, magazine, television show, etc.) and your company is not Canadian.
  • A resident correspondent, Or
  • As long as the event is short-term, a manager and or clerical staff member (six months or less).

If this describes you, you do not need a work permit.

To work in Canada as a public speaker

You do not need a work permit if you’re a guest speaker, commercial speaker, or seminar leader speaking at specific events, provided the event is no longer than five days.

If this does not describe you, you need a work permit.

To work in Canada as military personnel

You’re a member of an armed force of another country. You have movement orders stating that you’re entering Canada under the terms of the Visiting Forces Act.

If this describes you, you do not need a work permit.

To work in Canada as a performing artist

You do not need a work permit if:

  • You’re a foreign artist or the artist’s key support staff (people vital to the performance).
  • You will perform in Canada for a limited period.
  • You’re not being hired for ongoing employment by the Canadian group contracted you.
  • You’re not involved in making a movie, television or radio broadcast.

Examples include:

  • A foreign-based band or theatre group and their key crew.
  • Street performers (buskers).
  • Disc jockeys.
  • Members of a foreign or travelling circus.
  • Guest artists working within a Canadian performance group for a limited time.
  • World wrestling entertainment wrestlers (and members of similar groups).
  • People who will perform at a private event, such as a wedding.
  • Air show performers.
  • Rodeo contestants.
  • Artists attending or working at a showcase.
  • Film producers (business visitors).
  • Film and recording studio users (limited to small groups renting studios who will not enter the labour market, and to business visitors)
  • People doing guest spots on Canadian television and radio broadcasts (guest speakers), such as news programs.

If this does not describe you, you need a work permit.

To work in Canada on an advertising shoot

You do not need a work permit if you’re working on a foreign-financed commercial/advertising shoot for television, magazines or other media and you’re:

  • A Film Producer.
  • An Actor.
  • A Director.
  • A Technician.
  • Other Essential Personnel.

Note: You must be entering Canada for a short period, usually no more than two weeks.

To work in Canada as a student working off-campus

Full-time international students can work off-campus without a work permit:

  • Up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions.
  • Up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions.
  • Full-time during scheduled breaks, such as the winter and summer holidays or spring break.

To qualify, you must:

  • Have a valid study permit.
  • Be a full-time student.
  • Be enrolled at a designated learning institution at the post-secondary level or a vocational program at the secondary level in Quebec.
  • Be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that lasts at least six months.

You must stop working on the day you no longer meet the eligibility requirements listed above (e.g., if you’re no longer a full-time student during an academic session).

To work in Canada as a student working on-campus

If you’re a full-time international student, you do not need a work permit to work on the campus of the university or college where you study.

To work in Canada as a high-skilled worker for a short term

You do not need a work permit if you will come to Canada as a high-skilled worker and

  • Your job is under the NOC skill type 0 (managerial) Or a (professional)
  • You will only work for:
    • Up to 15 consecutive days once every six months or
    • Up to 30 consecutive days once every year.

You may need a temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization to come to Canada if you are eligible.
If you do not meet these conditions, you need a work permit.

To work in Canada as a researcher for a short term

You do not need a work permit if you will come to Canada as a researcher:

  • At a public degree-granting institution or affiliated research institution.
  • Who will work for 120 or fewer consecutive days.
  • Who has not worked in Canada under this exemption in the last 12 months.

You may need a temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization to come to Canada if you are eligible.
If you do not meet these conditions, you need a work permit.

If your job is not on the list (other job) You need a work permit.

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