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How Individuals with a Visiting Visa Can Switch to a Work Visa in Canada


How Individuals with a Visiting Visa Can Switch to a Work Visa in Canada


Canada is renowned for its high quality of life, robust healthcare system, and diverse cultural landscape, making it an attractive destination for individuals from around the world. Many people initially visit Canada on a temporary basis with a visiting visa but later decide they want to live and work there. Transitioning from a visiting visa to a work visa involves several steps and understanding the Canadian immigration system. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of how individuals can switch from a visiting visa to a work visa in Canada.

Understanding Canadian Visas

Visiting Visa (Temporary Resident Visa – TRV)

A Visiting Visa, or Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), allows foreign nationals to enter Canada for tourism, visiting family or friends, or conducting business meetings. It typically permits stays of up to six months.

Work Visa

A Work Visa allows foreign nationals to work in Canada for a specified period. To obtain a work visa, one generally needs a job offer from a Canadian employer and, in many cases, a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Steps to Transition from a Visiting Visa to a Work Visa

1. Assess Eligibility

The first step is to determine if you are eligible to apply for a work visa from within Canada. Certain conditions must be met to transition from a visiting visa to a work visa without leaving the country.

Eligibility Criteria
  • You must have a valid visiting visa (TRV).
  • You should have a job offer from a Canadian employer.
  • Your employer may need to obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
  • You must meet the specific requirements of the job, such as education, experience, and language proficiency.

2. Obtain a Job Offer

Securing a job offer from a Canadian employer is crucial. This job offer must be a genuine employment opportunity that meets Canadian labour standards.

Finding a Job
  • Job Boards: Utilize Canadian job boards such as Job Bank, Indeed, and LinkedIn.
  • Networking: Connect with professionals in your field through networking events, social media, and industry associations.
  • Recruitment Agencies: Consider using recruitment agencies that specialize in placing foreign workers in Canadian jobs.

3. Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

In most cases, your employer will need to obtain an LMIA from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). An LMIA is a document that shows there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job and that no Canadian worker is available to do the job.

LMIA Application Process
  • Employer’s Role: Your employer must apply for an LMIA by submitting a detailed application that demonstrates efforts to hire a Canadian worker first.
  • Processing Time: The processing time for an LMIA can vary, but it typically takes a few weeks to several months.
  • Cost: Employers are responsible for paying the LMIA application fee.

4. Apply for a Work Permit

Once your employer receives a positive LMIA, you can apply for a work permit. In some cases, you might be eligible to apply for a work permit without an LMIA if your job offer falls under an LMIA-exempt category, such as jobs covered by international agreements (e.g., NAFTA).

Work Permit Application Process
  • Application Form: Complete the application form for a work permit, which can be done online or on paper.
  • Supporting Documents: Gather and submit all required documents, including your job offer letter, LMIA, proof of identity, and any other relevant documents.
  • Biometrics: Provide biometric information (fingerprints and photo) if required.
  • Processing Fee: Pay the work permit application fee.
  • Submission: Submit your application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

5. Wait for a Decision

After submitting your application, you will need to wait for a decision from IRCC. Processing times can vary depending on the type of application and the applicant’s country of origin. During this period, ensure you maintain your status in Canada by adhering to the terms of your visiting visa.

6. Transition to a Work Visa

If your work permit application is approved, you will receive a letter of introduction. You can then start working for your Canadian employer. Ensure you keep all documents and follow any additional steps outlined by IRCC.

Additional Pathways to Work in Canada

Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

If you are a student in Canada, you may be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after completing your studies at a designated learning institution. This permit allows you to work in Canada for up to three years.

Intra-Company Transfers

If you work for a multinational company with operations in Canada, you may be eligible for an intra-company transfer. This category allows you to transfer to the Canadian branch of your company without the need for an LMIA.

Global Talent Stream

The Global Talent Stream (GTS) is a fast-track immigration program designed to help Canadian employers hire highly skilled foreign workers in tech and STEM fields. This program has expedited processing times and does not require an LMIA.

Tips for a Successful Transition

1. Stay Informed

Immigration laws and regulations can change frequently. Stay updated on the latest information from IRCC and other relevant authorities.

2. Maintain Legal Status

Ensure you maintain legal status in Canada throughout the process by adhering to the conditions of your visiting visa and applying for extensions if necessary.

3. Seek Professional Advice

Consider consulting with an immigration lawyer or a registered immigration consultant to navigate the complexities of the immigration process and increase your chances of success.

4. Prepare Thoroughly

Gather all necessary documents, prepare a strong application, and ensure all information provided is accurate and complete. Any discrepancies or missing information can delay your application or lead to a denial.

5. Enhance Your Skills

Improving your language skills and obtaining additional qualifications or certifications relevant to your field can enhance your employability and strengthen your application.


Transitioning from a visiting visa to a work visa in Canada involves several steps, including securing a job offer, obtaining an LMIA (if required), and applying for a work permit. By understanding the process, meeting the eligibility criteria, and preparing thoroughly, you can successfully make the switch and begin your journey towards working and living in Canada. With its welcoming attitude towards immigrants and diverse opportunities, Canada remains a top destination for individuals seeking new career prospects and a high quality of life.

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