Work in Canada without a Work Permit

A number of situations may occur when an individual can perform work in Canada without needing to secure a Temporary Work Permit. An individual who is eligible to work without a work permit may still require a Temporary Resident Visa to enter Canada on a temporary basis.

The following scenarios have been identified as instances where foreign nationals may perform work in Canada without a work permit

  • Business Visitors
  • Foreign Representatives and their Family Members
  • Military Personnel
  • Foreign Government Officers
  • American Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Officers
  • In-Flight Security Officers
  • On-Campus Employment
  • Performing Artists
  • Athletes and Team Members
  • News Reporters, Media Crews
  • Emergency Service Providers
  • Public Speakers
  • Convention Organizers
  • Clergy
  • Judges, Referees, and Similar Officials
  • Examiners and Evaluators
  • Expert Witnesses and Investigators
  • Health Care Students
  • Civil Aviation Inspectors
  • Aviation or Accident Investigators
  • Crew
  • Implied Status

Business Visitors

This broad category facilitates entry for individuals who engage in business or trade activities in Canada but will not enter the Canadian labor market. There are a number of subdivisions under this category, but all business visitors must meet the following general criteria There must be no intent to enter the Canadian labor market (there will be no gainful employment in the country) The worker’s activity in Canada must be international in scope (it is assumed that a business visitor will engage in cross-border activity of some sort)

Business visitors may fall into the following sub-categories

After Sales Service

After-sales service providers may come to Canada to repair, service, supervise installers, and set up and test commercial or industrial equipment. Such services must be detailed in the contract of sale for the equipment in Canada. Individuals coming to Canada to train prospective users or maintenance staff in the operation of specialized equipment may also fall under this category.

After-sales service to Canada

Board of Directors Meetings

Members of a board of directors who must enter Canada to attend a meeting are eligible to do so as business visitors. Though these individuals may be remunerated for their time in Canada, this does not constitute entry into the Canadian labor market.

Directors Meetings in Canada

Short-Term Temporary Residents in Canada

Employees of Short-Term Temporary Residents

Individuals who are employed in a personal capacity, on a full-time basis, by temporary residents in Canada may be considered business visitors. An example of professions that may be eligible under this category include domestic servants, personal assistants or live-in caregivers. If the short-term temporary resident, and subsequently their employee(s), extends their stay past 6 months, a Labour Market Opinion and Work Permit may need to be secured for the employee(s).

Employees of Foreign Companies Contracting Canadian Companies

Situations arise in which foreign companies contract Canadian companies to provide services in Canada. In such a situation, the foreign company may wish to send one or more employees to Canada to ensure that the work is being carried out in a way that pleases the foreign company.

Foreign Representatives and their Family Members

Foreign representatives, as well as their personal staff and family members, may work in Canada without a work permit. Foreign representatives should be accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). Diplomatic representatives to United Nations offices in Canada are also covered by this exception. Family members of foreign representatives must receive a ‘no objection letter’ by the Protocol Department of DFAIT in order to work without a work permit.

Foreign Representatives and their Family in Canada

Military Personnel

Military Personnel

Military and civilian personnel in Canada under the auspices of the Visiting Forces Act may work and study without permits. The families of these individuals are also covered by these exemptions. In addition, military personnel are exempt from requirements for a passport, from a temporary resident visa, and from foreign national medical examinations. Civilians and family members are still required to obtain these documents, if necessary.

If an employee of a foreign company is sent to Canada for this purpose, they may be considered a business visitor provided they fulfill the following criteria

  • They remain an employee and payroll of the foreign company
  • The Foreign company remains the beneficiary of the employee’s efforts
  • The foreign company’s principal place of business remains outside of Canada
  • A business visitor in this category may remain in Canada for up to two years.

Work in Canada without a Work Permit

S.No Entry Without a Work Permit Work Permit and LMIA Required
1 Bands performing at bars, pubs, restaurants, etc Actors, singers, crew, etc in Canadian theatrical productions, shows, circuses
2 Foreign-based musical and theatrical individuals and groups and their essential crew, working outside bars and restaurants Individuals involved in making films, TV, internet or radio broadcasts
3 Street performers (buskers), DJs working outside a bar, restaurant or similar establishment Individuals who will be in an employment relationship with the organization or business contracting for their services in Canada
4 A foreign or traveling circus Performers in a Canadian-based production or show
5 Guest artists (not employed) within a Canadian performance group for a time-limited engagement Rodeo performers or side show workers (e.g., rodeo clowns and announcers, horsemanship or trick riding displays, ‘half-time acts’ and other specialty act entertainers)
6 Persons performing at a private event, such as a wedding
7 Artists attending or working at a showcase/workshop; which may include competing, judging competitors, demonstrating their skill, holding a class related to the showcase/workshop
8 Wrestlers from the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) (and similar groups)
9 Air show performers

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