International Mobility Program: Public policy, competitiveness and economy

The following programs are designated as work that can be performed by a foreign national based on the criteria listed in subparagraph R205(c)(ii) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Spouses or common-law partners of skilled workers [C41]

Spouses or common-law partners of skilled people coming to Canada as foreign workers may themselves be authorized to work without first having an offer of employment. A dependent spouse is eligible to apply for an open work permit if the principal foreign worker

  • holds a work permit that is valid for a period of at least six months, or, if working under the authority of section R186 without a work permit, presents evidence that they will be working for a minimum of six months;
  • is employed in an occupation that falls within National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill levels 0, A or B (which generally include management and professional occupations and technical or skilled trades [see the NOC website]);
  • physically resides or plans to physically reside in Canada while working.

Eligibility for specific spousal situations

Spouses of bridging open work permit (BOWP) holders

If the principal foreign worker has obtained a BOWP, the following eligibility requirements apply:

  • All principal foreign workers’ work permits must be valid for six months or longer.
  • For spouses or common-law partners of federal skilled worker class (FSWC) applicants, the BOWP holder must be performing work that is at a level that falls within NOC skill levels 0, A or B.
  • For spouses or common-law partners of provincial nominee class (PNC) applicants, the spouse or common-law partner is eligible for an open work permit for the duration of the work permit held by the principal PNC applicant, irrespective of the skill level of the principal PNC applicant’s occupation.
  • For spouses or common-law partners of federal skilled trades class (FSTC) applicants, the BOWP holder must be performing work that is within one of the skilled trade occupations in NOC skill level B.
  • For spouses or common-law partners of Canadian experience class (CEC) applicants, there are no set preconditions to be met by the principal CEC applicant.
  • For spouses or common-law partners of caregiver applicants (caring for children class or caring for people with high medical needs class), the BOWP holder must be performing work within one of the qualifying occupations in NOC skill level 0, A or B.

Spouses of open work permit holders

If the principal foreign worker is the holder of an open work permit (e.g., post-graduation work permit, working holiday work permit), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) cannot assess the skill level based only on the open work permit, and the spouse or common-law partner applying for the C41 exemption will need to attach proof that the principal worker is employed in an occupation in skill level 0, A or B.

The spousal applicant should submit all the supporting documents, including

  • a letter from the principal foreign worker’s current employer confirming employment or a copy of their employment offer or contract; and
  • a copy of the principal foreign worker’s last three pay slips.

Spouses of provincial nominee work permit holders

Note: Spouses or common-law partners of work permit holders who have been nominated for permanent residence by a province are entitled to open work permits for the duration of the work permit of the provincial nominee principal applicant, irrespective of the skill level of the principal applicant’s occupation.

The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption code is T13 (or C10 for spouses or common-law partners of Quebec Selection Certificate [CSQ] holders selected under its Programme régulier des travailleurs qualifiés [PRTQ] and its Programme de l’expérience québécoise [PEQ] who are holders of a valid work permit and who currently reside in the province of Quebec—see LMIA-exempt work permit renewals/extensions for certain CSQ holders currently in Quebec for more information).

Work permit processing

Mandatory association to the principal foreign worker: The spouse or common-law partner must be associated with the principal applicant in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) using the standard steps for associating a client to another client. This is required to ensure the ability to revoke a spouse work permit under public policy considerations.

Duration: The spouse’s or common-law partner’s work permit may be issued for a period that ends no later than the work permit of the principal foreign worker, or for the duration of employment of the principal worker, authorized as per section R186.

Occupation: The NOC code should be 9999.

Fees: The open work permit holder fee should be collected in addition to the work permit processing fee.

Spouses or common-law partners of full-time students [C42]

Note: The provisions outlined for C42 apply only to spouses of students engaged in full-time studies at a Canadian university, community college, CEGEP, publicly funded trade or technical school, or private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees.

Spouses or common-law partners of certain foreign students are allowed to accept employment in the general labour market without the need for an LMIA. This exemption is intended for spouses who are not, themselves, full-time students.

Eligibility

Applicants must provide evidence that they are the spouse or common-law partner of a study permit holder who is a full-time student at

  • a public post-secondary institution, such as a college, university, or CEGEP in Quebec;
  • a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as a public institution and receives at least 50 percent of its financing for its overall operations from government grants (currently, only private college-level educational institutions in Quebec qualify); or
  • a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees.

Spouses or common-law partners of full-time students are eligible for open or open/restricted work permits, depending on whether a medical examination has been passed. There is no need for an offer of employment before issuing a work permit.

Validity

Work permits may be issued with a validity date to coincide with the spouse’s study permit.

Post-graduation employment [C43]

See the instructions concerning students.

Post-doctoral fellows awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and research award recipients [C44]

Note: There are two categories of workers captured under C44: post-doctoral fellows awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy and award recipients.

Post-doctoral fellows holding a Ph.D. or its equivalent

Foreign nationals in this category may be appointed to a time-limited position granting a stipend or a salary to compensate for periods of teaching, advanced study and/or research. It is work designed to obtain the highest expertise possible in a particular discipline, and candidates are chosen on the basis of academic excellence.

The applicant must have completed, or be expecting to complete shortly, their doctorate and be working in a field related to that in which they earned, or are earning, their Ph.D.

Post-doctoral fellows can either be the direct recipients of an award or be offered a time-limited position to undertake research on behalf of or as part of a team of researchers. Universities vary in their methods and criteria used in assessing candidates and offering post-doctoral fellowships. Officers should assess the written offer from a responsible academic official (professor or higher), which will state the amount of remuneration and the location, nature and expected duration of the term of employment.

Occupational code

For post-doctoral fellows who are employed by a Canadian university or educational institution, the 2011 NOC code should be 4011.

For post-doctoral fellows who are employed by a Canadian entity that is not an educational institution, their field of specialty should be used. For example, a geologist with a doctorate may work as a geologist and not as a post-doctoral fellow, in which case the 2011 NOC code would be 2113.

Award recipients paid by Canadian institutions

For the purposes of the LMIA exemption C44, IRCC defines “academic award” as an award that involves research work, including remuneration, offered by a Canadian academic institution. An academic award is granted strictly on the basis of academic excellence.

Applicant criteria

  • The applicant must be the direct recipient of the award involving work and remuneration.
  • The applicant must actively contribute to and benefit a Canadian research project.
  • The applicant should demonstrate academic excellence or expertise in a field related to the particular work to be undertaken.
  • The position must reflect the experience and expertise of the applicant and the role that they will play on the project (e.g., an undergraduate student is unlikely to lead a research project on their own).
  • The applicant should have a significant role to play or value to add to the research project.
  • The applicant should hold an official position or an affiliation or registration with a credible academic or educational institution or agency in their country of citizenship or residence.
    • Credibility may be assessed by examining the mandate and capacity of the institution or agency. Is its primary function to engage in research activities and/or advance education or policy? Does it possess the capacity (e.g., resources, expertise, network) to conduct and/or support research activities? What is its source of funds (e.g., government, commercial enterprise)? What kind of reputation does the institution or agency have?

Award criteria

  • The award must be given based on merit and academic excellence.
  • The award must be the result of a competitive assessment and review process.
    • The onus is on the applicant to provide details, such as to whom the award was open (e.g., criteria for eligibility); how the applicant came to participate in the award process (e.g., nomination, self-submission); and the criteria or process used to select the winner(s).
  • The award must not be primarily for recruitment or commercial purposes.
  • Included in this category are Global Affairs Canada (GAC) award programs, where the recipients do not qualify for a study permit and do require a work permit.

Employer criteria

  • The employer must be a credible Canadian academic or educational institution or agency, or a closely affiliated organization.
    • Credibility may be assessed by examining the mandate and capacity of the institution or agency. Is its primary function to engage in research activities and/or advance education or policy? Does it possess the capacity (e.g., resources, expertise, network) to conduct and/or support research activities? What is its source of funds (e.g., government, commercial enterprise)? What kind of reputation does the institution or agency have?
    • For institutions or agencies not on the designated learning institutions list, see also awards available to foreign students for study or research in Canada.
  • The employer must not be a commercial enterprise.

Research award recipients paid by foreign institutions

Academic research award recipients who are supported by their own country or institution and invited by Canadian institutions to conduct research activities in Canada may also be eligible for this exemption.

In addition, certain foreign nationals seeking to perform self-funded research may meet the definition of business visitor and thus be eligible to work without obtaining a work permit. For foreign nationals under self-funded research to be considered business visitors, officers must be satisfied that they meet the criteria for the business visitor category.

Off-campus employment [formerly C25] now work permit-exempt

As of June 1, 2014, off-campus employment for eligible students is work permit-exempt pursuant to paragraphs R186(v) and (w). The exemption code C25 is no longer in use.

See the instructions concerning students for guidance.

Foreign medical (or dental) residents and medical research fellows [C45]

Medical residents

Foreign medical (or dental) residents are holders of a medical degree equivalent to that of a Canadian Medical Doctorate (e.g., MD, Doctor of Dental Surgery, Doctor of Dental Medicine) who are coming to Canada to complete a residency at a Canadian hospital or in a clinical setting as part of their medical training. The positions have a duration of approximately two to seven years, or more, depending on the area of medical specialization.

Medical fellowship holders

Foreign medical (or dental) fellows are holders of a medical degree equivalent to that of a Canadian Medical Doctorate (e.g., MD, Doctor of Dental Surgery, Doctor of Dental Medicine) and are recognized medical specialists who have completed residency training and accept to continue specializing in some highly specific field of study to advance clinical or medical research. Fellowships typically have a duration of one to two years.

Work permit issuance

Officers at a Canadian mission abroad, at an inland office or at a port of entry will be presented with an official letter of employment from the university, written on university letterhead and signed by a senior administrator (e.g., the program manager) from the Postgraduate Medical Office, detailing the following:

  • the position being offered, including the area of specialty, if applicable;
  • the length of the residency training or fellowship period (number of months), including the beginning and end dates of the residency or fellowship period;
  • the work location(s) for the duration of residency or fellowship;
  • the annual income offered to the foreign national, with an attestation that the wage is commensurate with that of a Canadian performing the same duties in the same location of work and that the income offered to the foreign worker is not funded by the Canadian public;
  • whether the position is covered by a collective agreement; and
  • whether the physician must be licensed by the provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons in order to undergo their residency or fellowship in that province.

Officers may also receive a copy of the letter of eligibility for licensure from the relevant provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons, where applicable. If the foreign medical resident or fellow does not require licensure from the regulatory body, the university should indicate this in their letter of employment.

Note: In some provinces, fellows, particularly research fellows, have no patient contact. Regardless of whether contact with patients occurs, fellows, like all residents, are required to pass an immigration medical exam according to section R30.

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