Employees travelling to work in Canada: what you need to know

While there is a lot of red tape to get through before hiring someone from outside the country, your best chance of success is to understand the requirements and go through the steps. Employers who do often find great employees, and employees who make their way here find Canada a good place to be.

Most people travelling to work in Canada will need either a visa or an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization), or perhaps both. There are rules around what kind of visa they need and whether an eTA is also needed. The rules can be tricky and not every rule applies to each person. For example:

  • A citizen of Canada can work in Canada; a Canadian citizen living abroad, however, may need a passport to get into Canada.
  • A “dual citizen” of Canada and another country won’t need a work visa; he or she will need a Canadian passport to enter Canada from overseas.
  • A work visa may not be needed when traveling from overseas to Canada, but an eTA may still be required.
  • Non-citizens wanting to work in Canada are classified in different ways and require different documentation:

Here are four things you and an employee need to know before hiring:

  1. What jobs are available to non-citizens in Canada. 
  2. What work documents are needed for non-citizens in Canada.
  3. What travel documents are needed to get into Canada.
  4. The rules surrounding the type of job, its  availability, the program sponsor and the governmental department that regulates the program.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA): do foreign workers, travelling colleagues need one?

Foreign nationals who do not need a visa to visit Canada are now expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa are exempt from this requirement. As the name suggests, the eTA is electronically generated. Travellers will need a valid passport, a credit card, an e-mail address and access to the internet. Personal information is input, a fee of $7 must be paid, and in most cases approval is made in a matter of minutes - a confirmation e-mail will be sent from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to the e-mail address provided by the traveller.

There is no requirement to print the e-mail, since the eTA is electronically tied to the passport used in the application. The eTA is valid for five years, or until the traveller’s passport expires – whichever is sooner. It is important that you travel on the passport used to apply for the eTA.

Do temporary foreign workers or colleagues travelling from overseas need an eTA?

If a temporary foreign worker or a colleague from overseas do not need a visa to visit Canada (as a visa-exempt foreign national), then they will need to obtain an eTA. You will find a list of who needs a visa to travel to Canada, and a list of who needs an eTA to travel to Canada, on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website

NOTE: If an individual is visa-exempt to visit Canada, they may still need a work permit to work in Canada. Check with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to ensure a temporary foreign worker/overseas colleague has all the necessary documents to enter and work in Canada.

Canadian citizens, including dual national Canadians, will need a valid Canadian passport to travel to Canada by air.

Express entry now available for some applications

In January 2015, the federal government launched a new electronic system called Express Entry to manage applications for permanent residence under certain economic programs.

Those programs include:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
  • A portion of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)

What has changed?

  • Skilled foreign nationals must register with the National Job Bank as a requirement of the Express Entry program.
  • Express Entry candidates with a valid job offer or provincial/territorial nomination will quickly receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence.
  • When an employer is unable to fill a position with a Canadian or Permanent Resident they will have access to a pool of candidates who fit current labour market needs.  
  • The new and improved Job Bank will coordinate the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process.
  • Job Bank will connect Canadian employers and Express Entry candidates at no cost.
  • There will be no LMIA fee for permanent residence applications.
  • 80% of permanent residence applications will take six months or less to process, from receipt of a completed application to the final decision.

The changes coming with this program will not affect individual hiring protocols. Businesses will continue to recruit, interview and perform background checks on applicants as per their prescribed human resource practices. This program will streamline the immigration process for highly skilled workers and reduce the wait times for residency applications.
For more information on this program, visit the Government of Canada Express Entry website.