How to Get Canada Work Permit with a High School Diploma

The government has made working in Canada more inclusive by creating programs that are favorable for persons with only a high school diploma.

Can you get Canada work permit with a high school diploma? The answer is yes. With your secondary or high school education, there are many opportunities you can harness to begin working in Canada.

Having a degree or a higher qualification is not the defining criteria for obtaining a job in Canada. The government has made working in Canada more inclusive by creating programs that are favorable for persons with only a high school diploma.

On this page, you will find various ways you can get Canada work permit with your high school diploma. These include the different immigration programs you can apply for and their eligibility requirements.

What are the Immigration Programs I Can Apply for with a High School Diploma in Canada?

With just your high school diploma, you can apply for a Canadian work permit through any of the following programs:

  • Agri-food Pilot
  • Federal Skilled Trade Program (FSTP)
  • Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
  • Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP)

These programs are applicable to you because they do not necessarily require a certificate, diploma, degree, or post-graduate degree qualification.

Agri-Food Pilot

The agri-food pilot is for persons who qualify to join the labor force of the Canadian agricultural and food sector based on certain requirements. The minimum educational requirement for this program is a Canadian or non-Canadian high school diploma. Persons who did not have their secondary education in Canada must provide a recent report from a recognized educational credential assessment as proof.

Other requirements for the agri-food pilot are:

  • A minimum of one year of full-time work experience in a relevant job for the past three years.
  • An offer of non-seasonal employment for a Canadian organization in any of the industries or occupations eligible for the agri-food pilot. Organizations in Quebec are excluded.
  • Language requirements

Recognized industries for the agri-food pilot are:

  • All kinds of animal production, excluding aquaculture. Included sectors are cattle farming, pig farming, poultry, sheep and goat farming, and other livestock)
  • Floriculture, nursery, mushroom production
  • Greenhouse
  • Meat production

Eligible occupations are:

  • Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
  • General farmworkers
  • Harvesting laborers
  • Food processing laborers
  • Industrial butchers
  • Retail butchers

Federal Skilled Trade Program

The Federal Skilled Trade Program  (FSTP) is an immigration option under the Express Entry. FSTP is one of the most popular Canadian immigration programs alongside the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Both programs allow you to immigrate to Canada and start working based on the skill sets you possess. The FSTP is not only a program that grants you the opportunity to work in Canada alone.

If you qualify for the program, it becomes an offer of permanent residence, just like other Express Entry programs.

The essence of this program is to let immigrants take up trading options in Canada. According to the IRCC, skilled trades in Canada include all occupations that pertain to:

  • Butchers and bakers
  • Central control operators; processing, manufacturing, and utility supervisors
  • Chefs and cooks
  • Industrial, electrical, and construction trades
  • Maintenance and equipment operation
  • Supervisory jobs in natural resources, agriculture, and related endeavors
  • Technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture, and related endeavors

The minimum requirements for the program are:

  • A minimum of 2 years full-time experience as a paid worker in a relevant job. Or the part-time equivalent as a paid worker in a relevant job.
  • A valid job offer of full-time employment for a Canadian organization. The job offer should span at least, one year. In place of job experience, you may provide a certificate of qualification in a relevant job issued by any province or territory in Canada.
  • Proof of funds and language requirements.

Provincial Nominee Program

The provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows you to decide the province you will like to work in Canada and the skill you have to offer to the labor market. All Canadian provinces and territories, except Quebec, have a provincial nominee program.

The nominee program of each province or territory may target a particular set of people at a particular time. Therefore, there are two ways you can go about it if you want to apply with a high school diploma:

  • Decide the province you will like to work in and study their requirements to see if they apply to you, or
  • Look up all the opportunities available in each Canadian province or territory and pick the one whose requirements will favor you the most.

After deciding on a Provincial Nominee Program, you can apply through any of these two means:

  • Apply for a nomination under the Express Entry stream of a particular province or territory. Await their nomination and then use it to create an Express Entry profile. If you already have one, you can update your nomination in the profile and increase your CRS points.


  • You first create an Express Entry profile and indicate the provinces you are interested in. If any of the provinces contact you, you can then apply to their Express Entry stream and await nomination.

The various provincial nominee programs according to the provinces and territories in Canada are:

  • Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP)
  • British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP)
  • Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP)
  • New Brunswick Skilled Worker Stream
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program
  • Northwest Territories Nominee Program
  • Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) stream
  • Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)
  • Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program
  • Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)
  • Yukon Nominee Program

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) specifically channels the immigrant workforce into the smaller communities of Canada. There are 11 different communities participating under RNIP. If you are interested in immigrating to and becoming a permanent resident in any of these regions, you can consider obtaining your work permit using the RNIP.

The requirements for applying to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot are:

  • A minimum of one year of full-time work experience since the past three years
  • A valid (non-seasonal) job in any of the involved communities
  • A minimum of Canadian high school diploma or its equivalent (proven with an educational credential assessment)
  • Proof of funds and language requirements

The participating communities under RNIP are:

  • Altona/Rhineland, Manitoba
  • Brandon, Manitoba
  • Claresholm, Alberta
  • Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
  • North Bay, Ontario
  • Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
  • Sudbury, Ontario
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Timmins, Ontario
  • Vernon, British Colombia
  • West Kootenay (Castlegar, Nelson, Rossland, Trail), British Colombia

How to Get Canada Work Permit with a High School Diploma

Knowing the various programs you can apply for to get a work permit with a high school diploma in Canada, you should take the following steps to obtain your work permit:

Step 1: Determine the Program you are Eligible for

There are many immigration options available and you will not qualify for all of them. You should not waste your time applying for a program you are not eligible for. This is why you should carefully study the minimum requirements for each program to know which you should apply for.

Step 2: Decide on the Type of Work Permit you Want

The program you apply for will determine the kind of work permit you should opt for. There are two major types of work permits in Canada:

  • The open work permit
  • The employer-specific work permit or closed work permit

Some programs require you to apply for only one type of work permit while other factors can determine which you should apply for in other programs.

Step 3: Look up the Requirements Needed to Apply for your type of Work Permit

Following stipulated instructions is an essential process to immigrating to Canada. After deciding what kind of work permit you need, you should examine the requirements for such a permit as provided for the Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Note the peculiarities that may occur due to the country you are applying from or the kind of job you will be doing when you arrive in Canada.

Step 4: Get all your Documents Ready

It is important to have all the documents you need ready before you begin your application. When you study the requirement for your kind of work permit, you will know what documents are required of you. It may take as long as three months to get some documents ready so you need to have them at hand before you apply.

If there is any document that will expire soon, you can renew it or obtain a new one. If there are conflicting names in your document, you must provide an affidavit to prove that you are the same person.

Step 5: Apply for the Work Permit and Pay the Application Fee

With your documents ready, you can apply for your work permit yourself or make use of a representative such as a lawyer or immigration consultant. Submit your documents in the formats requested and fill in your details correctly. Of course, you should not forget to pay your application fee using a credit or debit card before you submit the application.

Note: High school students, including those below the age of 17 are permitted to work in Canada so long as it does not interfere with school hours. However, international high school students who are studying on a  visa are not allowed to work in Canada. This means that even if you had your secondary education in Canada, you cannot begin to work until you have completed your high school education.