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Canada Tourist Visa to a Work Permit – Eligibility, Application Process, Costs and Tips

Last updated on December 19, 2023

Coming to Canada as a tourist and then wanting to stay to work is a common situation. Many people visit Canada, fall in love with the country and then look for ways to extend their stay to work. Fortunately, in some cases, it is possible to convert your Canada visitor visa to a work permit from within Canada. However, it is not an automatic process and there are several eligibility requirements, documents and costs associated with apply for a work permit after entering on a tourist visa.

This article outlines everything you need to know about converting a Canada tourist visa to work permit.

Canada Visitor Visa to Work Permit Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for a Canada work permit from a visitor visa, you must:

  • Be a lawfully admitted visitor to Canada with a valid visitor status and who has not violated any of the conditions of your temporary resident status
  • Have a job offer from an eligible Canadian employer along with a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
  • Show that you have the relevant qualifications and work experience needed for the job
  • Be able to work legally in Canada in the job based on the work permit exemptions and categories
  • Meet minimum requirements for a Canadian work permit such as having a valid passport, clean criminal record, passing a medical exam etc.

In addition, the job offer and work permit application must be in the same occupation in which you have experience and qualifications. You cannot get a work permit for an occupation that is entirely different from your background.

Step-by-Step Guide to Convert Canada Tourist Visa to Work Permit

If you meet the basic eligibility requirements, here is the typical process to convert a Canada visitor visa to a work permit while you are still in Canada:

  1. Find a job: Network, search online job boards and contact recruiters to find jobs in Canada in your profession. Make sure the position and employer are LMIA-exempt to avoid delays.
  2. Get a job offer: Once you find a suitable job, go through the interview and evaluation process to get a concrete written offer of employment from the Canadian employer.
  3. Apply for an LMIA: If the job is not LMIA-exempt, the employer will need to get a positive LMIA by submitting an application to ESDC showing proof of recruitment efforts and market wage rates.
  4. Submit work permit application: With the job offer and LMIA (if required), apply for the specific work permit online or by paper from within Canada.
  5. Get biometrics done: Visit an IRCC VAC to get fingerprints and photograph (biometrics) done. Some applicants may be exempted.
  6. Wait for approval: Wait for IRCC to process the work permit application. Most applications are processed within 2 months.
  7. Start working: Once the work permit application is approved, you can legally live and work anywhere in Canada as per the permit conditions.

Work Permit Processing Time from Visitor Visa

The standard IRCC work permit processing time is up to 2 months if applying from within Canada.

However, if an LMIA is also required for the job offer, that will add another 2-3 months or more before you can even apply for the permit.

Using faster service channels like express entry or priority processing (extra fees) can reduce the standard work permit processing time by a few weeks.

Cost to Convert Canada Visitor Visa to Work Permit

The total costs for converting a Canada tourist visa to a work permit depends on a few key factors:

  • Work Permit Fees: $155 CAD standard work permit processing fee
  • Employer LMIA Fees (if required): Approximately $1000 CAD for the LMIA process
  • Biometrics: $85 CAD for fingerprints and photo
  • Immigration assistance: About $1500+ CAD if using an authorized consultant
  • Translations: Up to $150 CAD for certified translations of documents
  • Transportation and incidentals: For paperwork, appointments, etc

So in total, expect to incur about $2500 CAD or more in processing fees for the complete tourist visa conversion process if doing it by the book without taking shortcuts.

Read Also: Canadian Short Term Visa in 2024

Here are some top tips to help ensure your Canada visitor visa conversion to a work permit is successful:

  1. Maintain legal visitor status: Do not violate any of the terms of your temporary resident visa. Work illegally or staying past the validity can jeopardize future applications.
  2. Get expert help: Hire an immigration lawyer or consultant to ensure all paperwork is accurately filled per latest IRCC needs.
  3. Have an eligible job offer: Employer should be LMIA-exempt and job should match your skills and background closely
  4. Show sufficient funds: Have proof you can support yourself financially while the work permit is processing
  5. Monitor application: Keep tabs on the application processing times and be patient. Proactively inform IRCC of any changes or extenuating circumstances.

Types of Canada Work Permits for Visitor Visa Holders

There are a few key streams through which you can qualify for a Canadian work visa from a visitor visa:

1. Employer-Specific Work Permit

The most common pathway. Need valid job offer from a Canadian employer and may require an LMIA. Limited to working for that employer only in most cases.

2. Open Work Permit

Can work for any employer. Usually granted to spouses of skilled worker/students or humanitarian cases. Need to meet specific exemption criteria.

3. Bridging Open Work Permit

For applicants who applied for permanent residence from within Canada through express entry, provincial nomination etc. Valid until final decision on the application.

4. Post Graduation Work Permit

For foreign students completing an academic program at an eligible Canadian institution. Can work for any employer full-time for the permit duration.

Read Also: How to Convert Student Visa to Work Visa

How To Find a Job in Canada with a Tourist Visa

Here are some effective ways to find jobs that can lead to a Canadian work permit while visiting Canada as a tourist:

  • Network extensively at industry events, Meetups, clubs etc. Leverage existing professional and personal connections
  • Search top online job boards like Indeed, Monster, Workopolis etc. using relevant keywords
  • Connect with top staffing and headhunting agencies in your industry
  • Attend job fairs, recruitment drives and company open house events
  • Directly contact companies in your field and inquire if they have open suitable positions
  • Make sure to highlight eligibility to legally work in Canada with a work permit on your resume
  • Prepare well for job interviews to get hired based on your skills/experience

Using a Canada Immigration Consultant for Work Permit

Hiring an authorized Canadian immigration consultant can be extremely useful when applying for a work permit from a visitor visa.

Some key benefits of hiring a licensed Canada visa specialist are:

  • Ensure eligibility criteria is met before applying
  • Properly document the complete application process
  • Accurately fill out forms and write letters as per IRCC norms
  • Avoid mistakes that can lead to rejections or delays
  • Provide expert guidance on documentation requirements
  • Help determine fastest processing options
  • Handle communications and follow-ups with IRCC
  • Reduce likelihood of hassles or complexities with the application

When looking for an advisor, make sure to hire someone who is legally authorized to represent clients. The two main options are an ICCRC registered immigration consultant or lawyer/attorney licensed by a Canadian law society.

Tips for Streamlined Visitor Visa to Work Permit Conversion

Here are some additional practical tips for a smoother Canada tourist visa transition to a temporary work permit:

Come prepared with eligibility documents

Carry proper credentials like educational certificates, reference letters from past employers etc. to support work permit when looking for Canadian job offers.

Have sufficient funds

Show funds equivalent to at least half the validity period of the visitor visa when entering Canada. This indicates you can sustain yourself while waiting for the permit.

Apply from within Canada

Applying for the work permit once you have entered Canada legally in visitor status is faster vs applying from your home country.

Speak to an Employer First

Discuss eligibility for LMIA-exempt work permits before formally accepting any job offer. This avoids complications later on.

Keep Passport Valid

Your passport should remain valid for the entire duration of the visitor visa and work permit application process. If it is expiring soon, renew it proactively before landing.

Stay Organized

Keep digital and print copies of all relevant forms, documents, receipts & correspondence safely stored and organized. This helps when providing proof to IRCC.

Be Patient and Follow Rules

The processing time can sometimes be longer than expected. Avoid working illegally or violating visitor visa terms while waiting for the work permit approval.

In conclusion: Converting a tourist visa to a work permit can be complex but is certainly possible if you meet the eligibility criteria laid out above and follow proper procedures. Handling the documentation and processes accurately is key and getting professional guidance is highly advisable. If successful, one can legally live and work in Canada long term.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a CAQ, CSQ or Quebec Acceptance Certificate required?

A Certificate of Acceptance of Quebec (CAQ) or Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CSQ) is only required if you plan to reside in Quebec province after the work permit is issued. It is not required for temporary stays.

Can I apply for PR after getting the work permit?

Yes, most work permits allow you to legally reside in Canada and hence eligible to apply for permanent residence if you meet Express Entry eligibility criteria.

Can my family join me on this work permit?

Yes, once the work permit is approved, you can bring your spouse/common law partner and dependent children to Canada either together or at a later date through a temporary resident visa.

Do I need a separate eTA after getting the work permit?

No, after obtaining the work permit issued for longer duration (typically 1 year), you will no longer require an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to Canada during the work permit validity.

Can I visit USA or other countries and return during this process?

It is not recommended to travel outside Canada extensively once you have applied for the work permit. Inform IRCC of any travel plans in advance via written request & ensure you have the appropriate visas or permits to return.

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