Canada's immigration regulations define 'work' as an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market. Factors such as duration of stay, activities and citizenship mean that a temporary work permit could be required even if you are not paid by York University.
When a foreign national accepts a tenure-stream (or CLA) appointment at York University, the Immigration & Relocation Officer will request employer-specific documentation required to support the temporary work permit application.
When a foreign national accepts a Post-Doctoral Visitor/Fellowship position or is a visiting academic, the Dean's Office or delegate of the host Faculty/Department will initiate the employer-specific documentation required to support the temporary work permit application.
The following section outlines the immigration process for non-Canadians coming to work in Canada.
Working at York
Full-time academic appointments are either tenure-stream (permanent) or contractually limited appointments (CLA). The word "Probationary" is used in some appointment letters to indicate that the academic (e.g. Assistant Professor) is not yet tenured, i.e. not a full professor.
To begin working at York, depending on your nationality, you will require some or all of the following six items:
- A valid passport that expires after the end of your visit to Canada
- A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or Offer of Employment to a Foreign Worker exempt from the need for an LMIA
- A temporary foreign work permit
- A temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA)
- Biometrics (very few exemptions apply)
- A medical examination (if applicable)
Visas and permits are not the same things. A visa allows a foreign national to enter/transit Canada; a permit allows a foreign national to do a particular activity once here e.g. study (study permit) or work (work permit). Temporary residents of Canada (visitors, workers and students), should not allow either their visas or permits to expire while at York University as it could affect their ability to continue to work, be paid and provincial healthcare coverage.
Types of Work Permits
Your work permit will usually record York University as your employer, state the job title of the position you are permitted to work at whilst at York and work location unless it is an open work permit such as a spousal work permit which allows you to work for any employer.
There are two broad categories of work permit:
- Those under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) with a $1,000 application fee paid by the employer. The LMIA confirms that York can offer the appointment to a non-Canadian.
- Those under the Internal Mobility Program (IMP) are exempt from the need for an LMIA. Instead, a $230 Employer Compliance fee is paid by the employer via the Employer Portal, plus an Offer of Employment number is issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to York to pass on to the foreign worker before their work permit application submission.
LMIA Exempt Work Permits
York (specifically an administrator within the applicable Dean's Office or hiring unit) prepares and submits an online application (including payment of the $230 fee unless exempt) to IRCC and emails the foreign worker the Offer of Employment number that must be entered in the work permit application form. This online process and Offer Number replaces form IMM 5802.
The Offer number is required for positions that are exempt from the need for an LMIA. If required, a work permit application will be unsuccessful without this Offer Number. If your appointment is extended, a new Offer Number is required to renew your work permit.
Work Permit Required But LMIA Exempt
Persons who come to Canada temporarily to hold the following positions require a work permit, but are exempt from the need for an LMIA:
- Guest Lecturers
- Post Doctoral Visitors/Fellows
- Visiting Professors/True Visitors
- Research Award Recipients
- American, Mexican and Chilean University Teachers
- Successfully nominated Canada Research Chairs.
For full details of all people this applies to, please visit The Government of Canada website.
* Work - Canadian Immigration regulations define “work” as an activity for which remuneration is earned or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market. This means, you do not have to be paid, for your activity to be considered work.
Work Permit and LMIA Required
Persons who come to Canada to hold the following positions require both a work permit and an LMIA:
- Professors (tenured/tenure-stream)
Under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, before a foreign national can be employed by York, our job offer must be approved by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). This approval is issued in the form of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) decision. York (specifically the Immigration and Relocation Officer) prepares and submits these applications to the government for faculty member positions and senior CPM positions, then sends the new faculty member (and on rare occasions, senior CPM) the LMIA decision if it is approved.
Please note that if you are a citizen of the USA, Mexico or Chile, an LMIA is not required for your contractually limited appointment as you are covered under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), previously called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) respectively. These international agreements apply to temporary/short term employment where the intent is not to live in Canada permanently. Please note that citizens of Chile may require a visa, in addition to a work permit. To discover if you require a visa, please visit the Government of Canada.
There are a few circumstances where an LMIA is not required. Visiting academics do not usually require an LMIA to obtain a work permit. An LMIA is usually required for permanent or contractual positions offered to foreign nationals. Spouses/partners and dependents of temporary foreign workers do not usually require an LMIA.
For the LMIA to be issued, the University submits a file to ESDC that provides details of the in situ (public view) of the recruitment advertisements and search efforts and demonstrates that there were no suitably qualified domestic applicants (Canadian citizens or permanent residents) to fill the position, so an offer can be made to a non-Canadian.
Once the LMIA is issued, it is sent electronically to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and entered into their database. A copy of the LMIA is also sent to York, and the University forwards a copy of the letter to the new employee, so the employee can apply for a work permit.
A positive or neutral LMIA provides the immigration officer with the authority to issue the work permit. The actual permit is issued at the port of entry (e.g. border or airport) on the presentation of your letter of introduction (work permit approval letter). Work permit validity is typically up to five years, subject to the expiry date of your passport.
When the time comes, the LMIA is also required to successfully process the application for permanent residence. It is critical when applying for your work permit or for permanent residency that you include a copy of the LMIA as well as the other documents required, such as the original job offer letter and subsequent employment confirmation letter from York University.
Applying for a Work Permit
Depending on your nationality there are different ways of applying for your work permit. Typically, you will apply at a visa office or consulate abroad before arriving in Canada. Alternatively, you may be eligible to apply orally at a port of entry to Canada. Please contact the Immigration and Relocation Officer for more information.
New Faculty Members
You must apply for a temporary work permit to enter Canada legally to begin your new position at York University. Once you have received the Labour Market Impact Assessment, you may proceed with your application for a work permit.
If you have been hired for a permanent position, you must secure permanent immigration status. In Canada, this is known as `Permanent Resident’ status or previously as `Landed Immigrant’ status.
Generally, new employees hired to permanent positions secure a work permit, enter the country, and become settled. If you have been hired for a permanent position, you must apply for permanent residence status as soon as possible, as the process of preparing your application, applying and it being processed can take a year or more. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will not renew a work permit repeatedly. For temporary appointments, a transition to permanent residency is not required.
To assist you to complete your work permit application, please follow the attached link for the guide to Applying for a Work Permit outside Canada.
Please refer to the IRCC website to obtain a document check-list. Using this form will ensure that you have included all necessary documentation for your work permit. Afterwards, attach the document checklist to your application.
The completed application must be submitted to the Consulate/Visa Processing Office serving your lawful place of residence, or in certain cases, you may apply at a port of entry (land border crossing or international airport) to Canada. Please note that the Consulate/Visa Processing Office may have specific application requirements in addition to those required by IRCC. Please check with them to ensure you are aware of all requirements.
Visas and eTAs
Depending on your citizenship, if you plan to stay in Canada for a certain period of time, you may require either a temporary resident visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
- To see if you need either one and how to apply, please visit the Government of Canada website.
Biometrics (Fingerprints and Photo)
Biometrics collection is mandatory for all foreign nationals between the ages of 14 and 79 who are applying for, claiming or requesting temporary residence (excluding United States [U.S.] nationals), permanent residence or refugee protection. More information can be found at the Government of Canada website link attached. Generally, you need to give biometrics if you are applying for:
- A visitor visa
- A work or study permit (excluding U.S. nationals)
- Permanent residence
However, some of the exemptions can be reviewed at the link attached.
When to Provide Biometrics
You can only give your biometrics as part of an application you submit to IRCC.
Read the Government of Canada instruction guide to find the steps in the application process and when you need to give your biometrics.
- For example: if you apply for a visitor visa, study or work permit, you’ll need to give your biometrics before IRCC starts to process your application.
Extension of Work Permits
You must renew your work permit before it expires to maintain your legal status to work, be paid and have uninterrupted healthcare coverage. Applications to extend work permits can be found at the Government of Canada website link attached. If you required an Offer of Employment number for your initial work permit, a new Offer Number is required to renew/extend your work permit. If you required an LMIA for your initial work permit, a new LMIA may be required to renew it.
Permanent Residence Status
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is frequently used to bring international professors to Canada to work and is the program through which many new professors obtain their work permits. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program enables Canadian employers to hire foreign workers temporarily, to fill immediate skills and labour shortages when Canadians and permanent residents are not available. Since this program is primarily intended for temporary positions, if you are a non-Canadian academic who has accepted a permanent tenure-stream position, you will need to apply for permanent residence status soon after your arrival to Canada, to retain your permanent job. Applying for permanent residence status is a lengthy process. The time frame from submission of an application to the issue of 'Permanent Resident' status is significant. It currently takes an average of 6 months for an application to be processed. It may then take another 8 weeks or more for you to receive your permanent resident card. A delay in applying may require that you renew your work permit before its expiration. It is also to your advantage, if renewing a permit, to have an application for permanent residence on file at the appropriate immigration office. For current processing time frames please visit the Government of Canada webpage.
Different application categories exist for those who wish to apply for permanent resident status. The category typically used by York’s academics is the Canadian Experience Class. For more information, please visit the Government of Canada website attached.
Several cost recovery and administrative fees are payable by applicants for processing applications of various types, and certain immigration and citizenship procedures. All fees are subject to change without notice. In general, fees are payable at the time of application. Please consult the Fee List at the Government of Canada website attached for current charges. For a refund of your eligible expenses (if applicable), please submit your receipts to your hiring department for processing.
Once you have legally resided in Canada for a minimum of three years, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship. For details, please visit the Government of Canada website attached.
Canada’s immigration laws and regulations are enforced, regardless of whether you know about them or not. It is your responsibility, not York University’s, to obtain and maintain your legal immigration status, and to obey immigration regulations while working in Canada. Please check your immigration documents to ensure that they are accurate and have not expired. Please note that some processes, e.g. applying for permanent residency, can be very lengthy (takes years rather than months to process). It is your responsibility to apply for or renew your documents before they expire.
For more information or assistance, please contact the Immigration & Relocation Officer by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.