Work Permits: When and How to Apply at the Border

You have chosen to apply or renew a work permit at the border: is this a wise choice? It can be, provided you are well prepared and have checked it over before your application is presented.

You are preparing an application for a work permit or applying for a renewal of a work permit. However, processing times for an application submitted online or by mail appear to be incompatible with the reality of your business. You choose to apply for a border application: is this a wise choice?

In the vast majority of cases, a work permit can be submitted in paper form or online through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (« IRCC ») portal. In practice, the processing times indicated on the IRCC site will guide your choice.

Faced with these delays, the option of applying at the border may be perceived as a means of expediting the process of obtaining a work permit.

In practical terms, what are we talking about when we talk about this border crossing? A foreign national may, under certain conditions, apply for the issuance of a work permit upon entry into Canada by a land or airport boundary. Some nationals already present in Canada may also report to the land border crossing and apply for a work permit. In popular jargon, some people call it « flag polling » to leave Canada and come back immediately.

Before thinking in terms of saving time, the reflex is to check if you are eligible to apply at the border. The possibility of applying for a work permit at the border crossing is not an option available to all foreign nationals or for all types of work permit applications.

1- Who is eligible?

The condition to validate is the citizenship of the foreign candidate. Only nationals whose country of nationality is exempt from visa to enter Canada may apply by the border. You can find the list of visa exempt countries on the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

In addition, a new entry requirement now in effect must be kept in mind: citizens of countries not covered by the visa requirement must obtain an electronic travel authorization (ETA) to fly to or transit through Canada. Exemptions include, among others, citizens of the United States and travelers with valid Canadian visas.

Requests that are frequently made at the port of entry are:

  • Obtaining or renewing a work permit for the holder of a Québec Selection Certificate in an economic category (skilled workers, PEQ as a worker or student),
  • Work permits via intra-company transfer,
  • Work permit for urgent repair, Open work permit of accompanying spouse,
  • Permits to work as a NAFTA or GATS professional,
  • Holder of an LMIA

It is therefore imperative to verify that the worker is eligible to apply for a work permit at the border post before proceeding.

2- Crossing the Border: Recommendations

Your application package: The foreign worker must have in their possession a well-prepared file, which they will have reviewed beforehand. They must know without hesitation where they will be working, the name of their superior, the duration of employment and the tasks to be carried out. They will also need to ensure that they have a valid passport for the duration of the permit applied for.

The application shall include at least the following:

  • The offer of employment number, obtained in advance via the employer portal (when applicable),
  • A formal written job offer,
  • The candidate’s updated resume,
  • The diplomas related to the job offer made to them,
  • In addition, the documents specific to each type of application

Where and when to go?

The candidate can come to the border at any time to apply for a work permit. There are, however, some precautions to be taken to ensure that the experience proceeds as smoothly as possible.

With this in mind, make every effort to arrive on weekdays during office hours (9:00 to 17:00). The reason is simple: the immigration officer may want to verify an aspect of the request with the person who signed the job offer, so choose a time when the latter can be contacted. If this is not possible it should be ensured that the foreign worker’s border crossing time is known and that a representative of the employer can be contacted by telephone to answer a possible appeal from the immigration officer.

Social Networks and Other Accessible Information

Also pay attention to social networks or business card titles. A foreign worker or his employer may be tempted to advertise a promotion via the professional network LinkedIn for example, even before the application for a work permit is submitted. Sometimes a worker « embellishes » his resume with a different title than the one on the job offer.

It would be a mistake, which may suggest to an immigration officer that the worker and / or their employer have placed themselves or will be in noncompliance of the immigration laws. Therefore, ensure that any electronic documents or equipment, such as cell phones or computer equipment, carry strictly sincere, accurate information that is consistent with the status application that will be presented to the immigration officer.

Regular LMIA: Employers, Look After your Job Posting!

How do you properly post a job offer as part of an Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application? This issue is important because poor posting is a frequent source of LMIA refusals.

While there are many exemptions, obtaining an LMIA through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) remains one of the most common routes for the issuance of a work permit in Canada.

The TFWP allows employers to hire foreign workers to address temporary shortages of labour and skills, as defined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

As stated by the IRCC; the employer will have to obtain a notice from the authorities that the hiring of a foreign worker will not have a negative impact on the job market in Canada. The employer must request this notice as part of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). A favorable LMIA confirms that the foreign worker will fill a need for labour and that no qualified Canadian is available to fill the job.

Except in specific cases where it is exempted, the employer will generally be required to ensure that the position offered to a foreign worker has been publicly advertised in a well-defined framework in order to give Canadian workers the opportunity to apply.

In this regard, it is common for the employer to be required to modify a posting that does not meet all the criteria set out, or even to completely repeat the process, which considerably delays obtaining an opinion.

Ensuring Compliance of your Job Posting

The basic rules to respect in Quebec are the following:

  • The position must be advertised for a continuous period of a minimum of 30 days, using at least three venues, including the Emploi-Québec search engine and at least one other method considered to have a national scope;
  • All job requirements must be clearly displayed (name of employer, location of job, job title, job duties, salary and other conditions, job requirements, academic background, experience, etc.) As well as providing the contact information required to apply.

Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Using the wrong search engines

For example, in the IT field, for a job in Quebec, you could use Espresso-jobs, Emploi Québec and Workopolis.

  • Copycat posting or self-serving evidence

You have found the perfect foreign candidate to become your production manager, you reproduce their resume as is in your posting. You see that the foreign worker completed a first degree in child psychology, you require this skill in your ad. This will certainly cause the authorities to question your intentions.

  • Do not indicate who is the actual employer in the event of hiring via a recruitment company
  • Do not offer a wage lower than the median salary of the profession
  • Do not indicate a salary or omit certain conditions of employment



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