Immigration

Occupations That Do Not Require A Work Permit

To be able to work in Canada on a temporary basis, a Work Permit must be issued by the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Also depending on the nationality of the foreign worker, a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) may be issued before entering Canada.

However, there are certain jobs that grant a foreign worker legal right to work without a work permit.

Public Speakers: Guest speakers and seminar leaders do not need a work permit when entering Canada, and the speaking engagement should not exceed 5 days.

Military Personnel: Military personnel serving a country under the Visiting Forces Act does not need a work permit when entering Canada. See the full list of countries under the Visiting Force Act

Note: The military work permit exemption applies to personnel and not “military attachés”, under diplomatic mission employment.

Athletes and Team Members: Foreign professional or amateur athletes may participate as a team or individually in any Canadian sporting event without the need for a work permit. Trainers, coaches and other important team members are also exempt from the work permit requirement.

Clergy: A person who presides over at religious events, preaches the doctrine or provides spiritual guidance will be exempt from acquiring the work permit.

To be eligible under this exemption, the following proof must be ascertained

The ability to minister to a congregation which includes their credentials, past employment, etc.
The genuineness of the religious employment

Note: In some cases, visa offers may require additional proof in-order to ascertain the genuineness of the religious engagement.

Farm Work: A foreigner may work on a farm without a work permit if the following is ascertained

  • That the farm work is voluntary and no remuneration is expected
  • The farm is a non-commercial farm, where the owner provides the capital and labour for the farm and the produce is to cater for the family needs, and not profit driven.

Implied Status: If you are already in working in Canada and you applied for renewal before the current permit expires, you may still be able to work without a permit. However, if your renewal application is denied, you will have to leave Canada.

Business Visitors: Individuals who wish to engage in trade or business activities in Canada but will not enter the Canadian labour market qualifies for this category. The following criteria must be met by all business visitors entering Canada:

  • The will be no intent to be gainfully employed in the country
  • The business visitor’s activity must international in scope


The following conditions must be ascertained for a business visitor in Canada working for a foreign employer

  • The principal place of employment is outside Canada
  • The profit of the employer is accrued outside Canada
  • The primary source of the worker’s remuneration is outside Canada

Business visitors hoping to travel to Canada must present documents to the immigration officials attesting to their desired status.

The following sub-category falls under a Business visitor

  • After Sales Service
  • Employees of Short-Term Temporary Residents
  • Board of Directors Meeting
  • Employees of Foreign companies contracting Canadian companies

Performing Artist: Foreign artist may work in Canada without a work permit. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has outlined the requirements for work permit exempt performing performers.

  • Bands performing at bars, pubs, restaurants, etc
  • Foreign-based musical and theatrical individuals and groups and their essential crew, working outside bars and restaurants
  • Street performers (buskers), DJs working outside a bar, restaurant or similar establishment
  • Guest artists (not employed) within a Canadian performance group for a time-limited engagement
  • Persons performing at a private event, such as a wedding
  • 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
  • Air show performers.

In addition, certain performers may work under a different sub-category without a work permit and they include:

  • Film producers
  • Film and recording studio users
  • Guest on a Canadian Tv and radio broadcasts.

Note: In order to work under the work permit exemption, performing artist should not enter into an employment situation in Canada.

The following jobs fall under the  work permit exempt categories:

  • Convention organizers
  • Judges, Referees and similar officials
  • Foreign representatives and their family members
  • Foreign government officials
  • On-campus work
  • News reporters and media crews
  • Examiners and evaluators
  • Expert witness pr investigators
  • Health care students
  • Civil aviation inspectors
  • Aviation accident or incident inspectors
  • Crew
  • Emergency service providers
  • Off-campus work
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