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How to Work in Canada Without a Work Permit

How to Work in Canada Without a Work Permit

Foreign Nationals can Work in Canada Without a Work Permit

In most circumstances in Canada, a foreign national will need to obtain a work permit prior to working in Canada; if not, they would be working in Canada illegally and this can lead to further consequences. However, luckily, there are some circumstances where a foreign national can work in Canada without the need to obtain a work permit. It is very important to know the types of work that do not require a work permit before starting work. Therefore, in this article, I will explain certain circumstances in Canada that allow foreign nationals to work in Canada without a work permit.

Certain Work that does not Require a Work Permit

Before I explain in detail what kinds of work do not require a work permit, I will outline and list most of the possible work scenarios in Canada that do not require a work permit. The list is as follows:

  • Business Visitors
  • Military Personnel
  • Foreign Representatives (and their family members)
  • Foreign Government Authorities
  • On-Campus Employment
  • Off-Campus Employment
  • Performing Arts
  • Athletes & Team Members
  • News Reporters & Media Crew
  • Public Speakers
  • Clergy
  • Judges & Similar Authorities
  • Health Care Students
  • Civil Aviation Inspectors
  • Emergency Service Providers

Now that we have an idea of what types of occupations and work do not require work permits, I will explain in further detail below why this exemption is in place for business visitors, military personnel, performing artists, and athletes & team members.

Business Visitors

This category specifically is intended for individuals who actively engage in business or trade activities in Canada but do not, in fact, enter the Canadian labour market. They must have their primary source of income coming from overseas. In most cases, this would be from the United States. To better understand the qualifications for a business visitor, I will list them below:

  • There must not be any intent to enter the Canadian labour market.
  • The foreign worker must be employed in an international scope; it can be assumed that the business visitor will participate in cross-border activity.
  • The primary source of income must be outside of Canada
  • The primary employment location must be outside of Canada
  • The employer’s profits must be acquired from outside of Canada

Military Personnel

Luckily for any military and civilian personnel in Canada that fall under the portents of the Visiting Forces Act will not need to obtain a work or study permit in Canada. Additionally, the family members of these individuals are also covered by this exemption. In addition to not having to obtain a work or study permit, military personnel do not need to abide by the requirements for a passport, temporary resident visa or undergo foreign national medical examinations. However, civilians and their family members are still required to obtain these specific documents.

Performing Artists

There are many performing artists that may enter Canada without the need of a work permit. However, not all performing artists are exempt. There are some performing artists that will require a work permit in order to work in Canada as well as obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Therefore, in order to better understand who needs a work permit and who doesn’t, I will explain in the chart below.

Do Not Need a Work Permit

Need a Work Permit

Musical bands that perform at bars, pubs, restaurants, etc.

Performing artist in a Canadian-based production

Foreign musical and theatrical performers and their groups or essential crew that perform outside bars and restaurants

Rodeo performing artists or side show workers (i.e. rodeo clowns, horsemanship, trick riding displays, ‘half-time acts’ and other specialty performers)

Street performers & DJs who perform outside bars, restaurants or similar establishments

Individuals who will be engaged in a work relationship with an organization contracting their services within Canada

Travelling circus

Individuals who participate in making films, TV shows, internet or radio broadcasts

Guest artists that are not currently employed with a Canadian performance group (must be limited-time)

Actors, singers and their crew that participate in Canadian theatrical


It is important to note that the limited-time restriction for guest artists that are not currently employed within a Canadian performance group usually means that the time period would be between two weeks. Although, flexibility between less or more than two weeks is often permitted. On the other hand, if a guest artist is requested to perform for a performance season, then they will require a work permit and an approved LMIA in order to work.

Athletes & Team Members

Athletes, specifically professional or amateur, are able to travel to Canada to participate in sport activities within Canada either as a team or even individually. Similarly, foreign coaches, foreign athlete trainers and other team members are also included in this exemption. The following is a list of individuals who are included in this exemption:

  • Amateur athletes on Canadian teams
  • Jockeys racing horses from foreign stables
  • Race car drivers
  • Athletes attending professional team tryouts
  • Foreign athletes participating in a competition within Canada
  • Team support members
  • Full-time or part-time coaches and/or trainers

Contact Akrami & Associates

It is suggested that you have taken all of the aforementioned information into consideration before you attempt to enter Canada to work. You must first determine whether your occupation or line of work requires a work permit before entering Canada. Additionally, it is extremely important to note that work permits are difficult applications to pursue on your own, therefore, it is highly recommended that you seek out professional and experienced help before attempting to submit the application. Here, at Akrami & Associates, we work and have experience with many different immigration issues. We have helped many of our clients enter Canada with and without a work permit. If you believe that you may need a work permit to enter Canada to work, please feel free to contact Akrami & Associates at our office at 416-477-2545 for more information or if you would like to book a consultation with an immigration professional for more advice.

With Akrami & Associates, there is always a way!

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