How to receive a Canadian work permit document

Most foreign nationals who intend to work in Canada need a work permit. Refugee claimants and protected people are no exception to this rule. When the authorities approve your permit, you will receive a work permit document. However, the delivery method is different depending on how you apply for the work permit. The current article is an effort to introduce how you receive a Canadian work permit document. Moreover, it helps you protect yourself from scammers.

Receiving a work permit document for applications outside Canada

Assuming you have all the documents in place, section 197 of IRPR allows you to apply for a work permit before entering Canada. You could apply online or at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) in the past. However, the VAC may refuse to accept paper applications since the COVID-19 pandemic. Please get in touch with them directly if you wish to apply on paper.

Upon approval of an overseas work permit application, two scenarios could happen:

After one of the previous stages is complete, you will receive a work permit approval letter. This formal letter explains the validity of your work permit and includes your personal information. Moreover, it carries a barcode. You need to print the letter and take it to the Canadian port of entry. A Border Services Officer will scan the barcode and issues the actual work permit document.

As you can see, the authorities do not hand over the work permit document for you before entering Canada. Of course, the process is partly to protect the integrity of our immigration system. I have an article that explains how scammers issue fake work permits for their victims before arrival. Nevertheless, you won’t receive the work permit document in an authentic setting before arrival.

Obtaining the work permit document when applying at a port of entry

Under section 198 of IRPR, some people may apply for a work permit at the port of entry. Even if you are not visa-exempt, you could still use flagpoling to apply for a work permit at a US-Canada border crossing. Of course, you still need to present a complete set of documents. If the border officers approve your application, you will receive the work permit document on the spot.

Receiving the work permit document when applying after entry

Some people may apply for a work permit after entering Canada. You usually apply online. However, IRCC may accept paper applications from applicants who have difficulty using the online system. I do not recommend paper applications, though. Regardless, you receive an in-Canada approval letter when they approve your application. You do not need to leave Canada. They will mail the work permit document to your mailing address. In other words, the only time you receive a work permit by mail is when you are inside Canada and have applied from inside Canada.

I applied outside Canada but travelled before receiving the permit.

Sometimes you have a valid eTA or TRV and travel to Canada while IRCC processes your application. This approach is a bit risky. The officer might think you have applied after entry and refuse the application. They shouldn’t. However, I had seen this happen to one of my clients a few years ago. Even if you set that risk aside, you face another problem. If the officer approves your application, you will receive the work permit approval letter with the barcode. You then need to take one of the following steps to receive your work permit document.

  • Travel to another country and then, on the way back, present the letter to the BSO and collect the work permit document.
  • Flagpole!

Both approaches cost you money and take time.

Beware of scammers

The world of immigration and especially work permits is full of scammers. If something is too good to be true, it isn’t true. Therefore, do not cave into encouraging words. Read the following articles for more information:

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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.