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Legal Guide


There are restrictions on the employment in Canada of citizens of another country. Subject to very limited exceptions, for such persons to be able to work in Canada, they must either obtain permanent resident status by satisfying the requirements for immigrating to Canada, or obtain a written authorization to work
in Canada, also commonly referred to as a “work permit”.

Work is defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as any activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that is in direct competition with the activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market. An individual need not be paid in Canada (e.g. if remuneration is paid by a foreign entity) for the activity to be considered work. The policy underlying the legislation is to make any work opportunities in Canada available to Canadians first, and to prevent any adverse impact on work opportunities for Canadians by the hiring of foreign workers. While a foreign company may own or control a Canadian business, such ownership or control does not give it the right to staff that business, even in part, with citizens of the country of its origin. Although some greater flexibility is provided to companies from the U.S. and Mexico as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. and Mexican citizens, as well as other foreign nationals who hope to work in Canada, must still satisfy a number of specific criteria.

Effective July 1, 2012 and until further notice, only new applications made under the PhD eligibility stream and those with a qualifying offer of arranged employment are accepted for processing in this class. Applicants in this class are assessed against a detailed point system based on knowledge of the English and French languages, education, training and other factors, and must earn 67 points before they can be issued immigrant visas.

Immigrants to Quebec are required to meet similar selection criteria set by that province. These criteria place added emphasis on the economic, social and cultural aspects of residence in Quebec.

The point system is designed to favour those applicants who have considerable post-secondary or specialized education, and are therefore more likely to possess the necessary flexibility to adapt to changing employment and economic circumstances. The Government of Canada is seeking highly trained individuals who can immediately begin to contribute to the Canadian economy with a minimum adjustment period, and who are likely to contribute to Canada’s ongoing efforts to enhance its international competitiveness and productivity.

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