How Long Can You Work In Canada As A Temporary Worker?


In this post, I’ll discuss Citizenship and Immigration Canada rules on how long you can work in Canada as a temporary worker.

Four year limit

In general, a worker is limited to four years of cumulative work in Canada under a temporary work permit. This regulation was introduced in 2011, so any workers admitted in 2011 or later will be subject to this rule.

Once the four year period ends, the temporary worker would not be eligible to work in Canada (under a work permit) for an additional four years.

The time calculated is cumulative so it would not include leaves of absences or unemployment in Canada if the foreign worker lost his or her job.

As a result – if you qualify – you should apply for permanent residence under the Canada Experience Class after 24 months of work to ensure you can remain in Canada. Don’t count on working temporarily in Canada indefinitely.

Exceptions to the four year limitation period

There are several exceptions to the four year limitation period on working in Canada under a temporary permit.

Workers working in a manager or professional capacity as determined under the National Occupation Classification 0 or A are not bound by the limitation rule.

As well, those who have applied for permanent residence to immigrate to Canada and have received a positive selection letter are also exempt. This makes a lot of sense as there is no point in sending a temporary worker home just to invite him or her back as a permanent resident – this would be an unnecessary inconvenience.

Workers in Canada under an international agreement are also exempt. Such agreements include the North American Free Trade Agreement, various seasonal agricultural worker agreements, and others.

Another group of workers exempt from the limitation periods are those who do not require a labour market opinion. For example, spouses of workers or students who have an open work permit do not require a labour market opinion and would thus be exempt.

There is an overlap between workers working in Canada under international agreements and those who do not require a labour market opinion. For example, intra-company transferees and certain professionals under NAFTA do not require labour market opinions.

It is best to plan carefully when deciding to work in Canada and to decide if you want to move to Canad permanently.

As always, consulting a Canadian immigration lawyer is always a good idea, especially if you are planning to work temporarily in Canada for over a four year period.

About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile