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How to switch status from visitor's visa to work permit without leaving Canada

Updated: Mar 18

Transitioning from a visitor's visa to a work permit in Canada involves a change in your immigration status, allowing you to stay and work in the country legally. This process has been designed to support both the Canadian job market and individuals seeking employment opportunities.

Temporary Policy implemented during COVID-19 was extended on February 28, 2023 to continue to allow visitors to apply for work permits while in Canada until February 28, 2025.

The traditional process dictated that applicants would need to apply for their initial work permit before entering the country. If an applicant was already in Canada as a visitor when their work permit was approved, they were required to leave the country to be issued the actual work permit. However, the extended policy negates the necessity for departure, making the transition from visitor to work permit holder a much smoother process.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for this temporary public policy and take advantage of the streamlined transition process, applicants must meet specific eligibility requirements. These include:

  1. Valid Visitor Status: The applicant must have a valid visitor status in Canada on the day of their work permit application.

  2. Valid Job Offer: The job offer must be supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or an LMIA-exempt offer of employment. This ensures that the hiring is consistent with Canada's economic needs.

  3. Application Deadline: Applicants must submit their application for an employer-specific work permit no later than February 28, 2025, in order to benefit from this extended policy.

  4. Admissibility Criteria: All other standard admissibility criteria must be met, including health and security checks.

Accelerated Transition for Previous Work Permit Holders

In a bid to expedite the employment transition process, individuals who have held a valid work permit within the last 12 months while on visitor status can follow special instructions. These instructions allow them to obtain interim work authorization, granting them the ability to commence work for their new employer even before their work permit application is formally approved.


Guide to Transitioning from Visitor's Visa to Work Permit in Canada

Step 1: Explore Job Opportunities

Before you can transition to a work permit, you'll need a job offer from a Canadian employer. Start by researching industries that interest you and align with your skills.

Step 2: Secure a Job Offer

Once you've identified a suitable job opportunity, you need to secure a valid job offer. The job offer should be supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or be LMIA-exempt. An LMIA assesses the impact of hiring a foreign worker on the Canadian job market basically confirming that there was no qualified Canadian or Permanent residence to fill the job.

Step 3: Gather Required Documents

Collect all the necessary documents for your work permit application. These typically include:

  • A valid passport

  • The job offer letter

  • LMIA (If applicable)

  • Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself

  • Travel history

  • Police clearance certificate

  • Proof of ties

  • Medical examination results (if required)

  • Other relevant Documents based on your unique situation

Step 4: Apply for a Work Permit

With your documents in order, you can submit an online application through the IRCC portal. Do you have questions about applying for a work permit? Book a Work Permit Consultation to speak with one of our consultants.

With Canadian Immigration applications, there are no guarantees on the outcome of the decision. The visa officer upon review of your application makes the final decision based on their review of your application. Therefore, you should always ensure you package a strong and convincing application

Step 5: Application Decision

Processing times vary, so it's advisable to apply well in advance of your intended start date. Click here to check the processing time for your application. With a positive decision, you will be required to submit your passport for stamping and the issuance of your work permit. Should the decision be unfavourable, it will be important to request the GCMS note to better understand the reason for the refusal and properly plan a re-application.


Transitioning from a visitor's visa to a work permit in Canada opens doors to exciting career opportunities and the chance to experience the country's rich culture and vibrant communities.

And sometimes, the processes may be a lot more complicated, and that's why we are here, to help you figure it out.

To learn more about work permits, and the latest news on Canadian immigration, study or permanent resident plans book a consultation with us today and let's discuss and explore the options that will be right for you.


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