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Applying for a Work Permit

Can I get a work permit?

If you are a refugee claimant and you are 15 years old or older, you can apply to get a work permit to work in Canada. If you want to work in Canada, you need a valid work permit.

If you are under 18 years old, the application will ask for your parent or guardian to sign. If that is not possible, you can send in the application with only your signature. Some applications are accepted without the signature of a parent or guardian, but there is a possibility that it might not be accepted.

How do I apply for a work permit?

You can apply for a work permit online through the Government of Canada website.

The online application process is very confusing. We recommend that for your first online application, you get help from your lawyer, or from a refugee centre like the Centre for Refugee Children.

There is no cost for your work permit if you are a refugee claimant. BUT if you get a negative decision on your refugee claim, there will be a cost of $155.

Can I start working right away when I get my work permit?

Not Yet!

You can’t start working until you have gotten a special number called a “Social Insurance Number,” also know as a SIN

Get a SIN

To learn how to apply for a SIN, see this website. Tip: if you are a refugee claimant, you are considered a “temporary resident”

Start Work

Once you have your SIN, you can start working. You need to give your SIN to your new workplace so that they can start to pay you

Before you start working, make sure that you read the work permit closely to see if there are any “conditions.” These are rules that might say you cannot work in certain types of jobs. If you are a student, check to see if there are rules in your province about how many hours and when you can work.

Will my work permit expire?


Yes! Your work permit will expire. Make sure you look at it closely and remember the date that it expires. Most work permits expire in one or two years.

When Should I Renew it?

You should apply to renew your work permit 4-5 months before the expiry date. See the CRC resource on processing times to know how to check how long it should take.

Can I keep working while I wait for my new work permit?

Maybe! Sometimes it can take a long time for your new work permit to arrive. You can keep working with an expired work permit if you sent in the renewal application BEFORE your work permit expired.

You should get a letter from the government in your online account after you apply to renew your work permit. You can show this letter to your employer so they know that you are allowed to keep working.

You cannot keep working if you didn’t send in a renewal application before it expired!

If you are refugee claimant, you might get a work permit automatically!

If you filled out forms at the border/airport or you filled out the online portal to make your refugee claim, you might have checked a box that said you want a work permit.

If you did this, your work permit will come to you in the mail after you do your immigration medical exam.

If you do not receive your work permit automatically after 3 or 4 months, contact a refugee centre to ask for help.

Learn more about online work permit applications by watching this webinar.

If you need to fill out an online application, this website will give you an example of how to do it.