Starting in January 2024, Canada is implementing new requirements for work permits to work in Canada. If you want to get a head start on preparing, here’s an overview of what’s changing and how it may affect you.
Canada is introducing a new biometric screening process for work permit applicants. This means you’ll have to provide fingerprints and a photo, likely at an application support center. The good news is the new screening aims to reduce fraud and speed up application processing times.
The government is raising the language proficiency requirements for certain work permits. In some cases, you’ll need a higher IELTS or CELPIP score to qualify, especially for permits that could lead to residency. The increased language requirements intend to help new immigrants better integrate into Canadian workplaces and society.
Canada is also tightening the rules around employer compliance and labor market impact assessments. Employers will face harsher penalties for non-compliance, while certain positions may require an LMIA to prove no qualified Canadians are available for the job. The goal is to prevent exploitation of foreign workers and protect Canadian jobs.
Changes to the LMIA Process for Employers
Come January 2024, employers looking to hire foreign workers will face some changes to the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process. The LMIA is required to obtain a work permit for most foreign nationals, and the government is implementing new rules to improve the system.
- LMIA applications will need to be submitted electronically instead of by mail or fax. This aims to speed up processing times and make it more convenient for employers and officers to review documents.
- Employers will have to provide more details about their job posting and recruitment efforts. This includes specifying where the job was advertised, the length of time it was posted, the number of applicants, and the reasons why viable Canadian candidates were not selected. The goal is to ensure employers are making a genuine effort to hire locally before looking abroad.
- The government will evaluate if the job offer is reasonable and consistent with the prevailing wage for that occupation and region. Large discrepancies could be a sign the offer was tailored to a specific foreign worker and not genuinely available to Canadians.
Increased Work Experience Requirements for Applicants
Starting in January 2024, the requirements to obtain a Canadian work permit are increasing. To qualify, you’ll need at least two years of full-time work experience in your field over the last five years.
1. More Experience Required
Previously, most applicants only needed one year of experience to be eligible for a work permit. The new regulations will require 24 months of paid work in your occupation within the last 60 months. The experience must be full-time (at least 30 hours per week) and at a skill level comparable to jobs in Canada.
Part-time, casual or unpaid work does not count toward the requirement. If you have gaps in your work history, you’ll need to provide explanations and proof that you have maintained your skills during that time.
Some examples of evidence you can provide include:
- Letters of reference from employers
- Performance reviews confirming your job duties and responsibilities
- Professional memberships, licenses or certifications
- Records of training, workshops or conferences you have attended
- Personal portfolio or work samples demonstrating your abilities
The increased experience criteria applies to most work permit categories, including the Skilled Worker Program, Canadian Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Program. Some applicants, such as post-graduate work permit holders, may be exempt. It’s best to check with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for the specific details pertaining to your work permit category.
The aim of raising the work experience bar is to ensure that foreign workers have a strong likelihood of success in Canada’s labor market. With an additional year of experience, applicants will possess a greater depth of knowledge and expertise in their field to contribute to the Canadian economy. For employers, it also provides more assurance that work permit holders have the necessary skills and competence to perform the job.
How to Prepare Your Canada Work Permit Application for 2024
To prepare for the new Canada work permit requirements coming into effect in January 2024, there are a few key steps you should take. Making sure you understand the new rules and have everything in order will help ensure your application is processed smoothly.
1. Check Your Eligibility
First, review the updated eligibility criteria to confirm you still qualify for a Canadian work permit under the new guidelines. The core requirements around having a concrete job offer, proof of funds, intent to leave Canada after your work term and qualifications for the position will remain largely the same.
2. Gather Required Documents
In addition to the standard documents like a job offer letter, proof of education and/or experience, medical exam results, police certificates, etc., you will need to provide some new information. This includes evidence of at least basic oral language proficiency in English or French, depending on your job and location. You may need to take a language test to provide official results.You will also need to submit evidence of how your work in Canada would positively impact the Canadian labor market, which could include data from a job market labor study or report.
3. Apply Early
Given the additional requirements and potential processing times, it is recommended you apply for your 2024 Canada work permit several months in advance of your intended start date. Aim for 6-8 months ahead if possible. This will ensure you have enough time to take a language test if needed, obtain any additional documents requested and allow for unexpected delays. Applying with plenty of lead time will reduce the chance of your permit not being approved before you are scheduled to begin work.
4. Be Prepared for Additional Processing Time
With the new rules coming into effect, there may be an initial surge in work permit applications. The Canadian government anticipates processing times may increase, especially in the first few months of 2024. Make sure you factor in extra time for potential delays when planning your application submission. While the target remains 4-6 weeks, some applications could take 2-3 months during busy periods. Patience and allowing extra lead time is key.
Staying on top of the latest requirements, gathering documents efficiently and applying early will set you up for a smooth Canada work permit application process in 2024. With some advance preparation, you can feel confident your paperwork will be in order to work in Canada.