Two countries located on opposite sides of sibling continents, citizens of Colombia have recorded success in immigrating to Canada to become foreign workers. As a Colombian, you may be willing to live your South American country home in search of greener pastures in North American Canada. Before you immigrate, you must understand the processes involved in working in Canada and how you will obtain your Canada work permit from Colombia.
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What is the Canada Work Permit?
The Canada work permit is the official document that authorizes you to work in Canada. The work permit is for persons who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada.
Hence, it only allows you to work in Canada for a temporary period of time. Irrespective of who you work for and where the organization is based, you must obtain a Canada work permit if you will be in Canada for work-related reasons.
How to Get Canada Work Permit from Colombia
There are two types of work permits in Canada – the open work permit and the closed work permit. An open work permit allows you to work for any employer of your choice in Canada. You may switch employers if you want to and you do not need a job offer to obtain a work permit from Colombia.
A closed work permit on the other hand is an employer-specific work permit. It allows you to work for only one employer for as long as the permit remains valid. If you change employers, you must apply for another closed work permit. A valid job offer is a necessary requirement to apply for a closed work permit.
For Colombians who have never worked or lived in Canada before, an open work permit is usually hard to obtain except for certain kinds of jobs. Spouses and common-law partners of persons studying or working in Canada can also get a Canada open work permit from Colombia.
Hence, the most important prerequisite to obtain Canada work permit from Colombia is a valid job offer. With a valid job offer, you can apply for a closed work permit and begin your immigration process to Canada.
You can begin searching for a Canadian job offer by first visiting Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC) system of classifying jobs. By doing this you can determine:
- The various jobs you are eligible for as a foreigner and those related to your field
- The educational requirements
- The skills needed
- Detailed job description
- Other related jobs
How to Apply for Canada Work Permit from Colombia
With a valid job offer from an eligible Canadian organization, you can begin the application process for a Canada work permit from Colombia.
The Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) determines what Canadian organizations can employ foreign labour based on certain criteria. From time to time, the list of these organizations may change and those that are not permitted to employ foreigners are always indicated.
These are employers who are non-compliant with the IRCC rules on employment and treatment of workers and are therefore ineligible to recruit foreigners for a period of time. You will find a list of non-compliant employers on the IRCC website.
You cannot work for a non-compliant employer. Once a Canadian organization becomes ineligible to employ foreigners, it can no longer obtain LMIA from the ESDC until the ban is lifted.
Below is the step by step process to apply for Canadian work permit from Colombia:
Step 1: Obtain your LMIA
The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document you obtain from the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) through your employer. It is the document that shows that your employer has received the go-ahead from the ESDC to employ you and other foreign workers. Your employer must first apply for the document from the ESDC and then issue it to you upon your employment.
There are some jobs that do not require you to provide LMIA. These are known as LMIA-exempt jobs. For these kinds of jobs, you will provide the document given you by your employer to indicate the offer of employment.
Step 2: Gather other Documents
Providing the necessary documents is essential to the success of your application. If any of your documents are missing, it could delay the application process or make you forfeit the work permit and invariably, your job. The documents you need to apply for Canada work permit from Colombia are:
- Valid passport
- LMIA or proof of employment
- Resume and educational credentials
- Proof of relationship with accompanying family members through marriage and birth certificates or filling the Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union.
- An affidavit or any other document that will prove you are the same person if you have changed your name
- A credible translation if any of your credentials are not available in English or French
Step 3: Fill the Online Application Forms
To apply for Canada work permit online, you will create an account on the IRCC website and fill the following forms as specific to applying for a work permit:
- Application for Work Permit Made Outside of Canada (IMM 1295)
- Document Checklist (IMM 5488)
- Family Information (IMM 5645)
- Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union (IMM 5409) (if applicable)
- Use of a Representative (IMM 5476) (if applicable)
- Authority to release personal information to a designated individual (IMM 5475) (if applicable)
When filling the forms, ensure you provide your information accurately and without spelling mistakes. For any field that is not applicable to you, you can enter “|Not Applicable” or “NA” in that field.
Step 4: Pay the Application Fee
Using a valid credit or Canadian debit card, pay your work permit application fee of $155. Applying for an open work permit will cost you another $100 as the open work permit holder fee. The $100 is refundable if the IRCC refuses your application. A biometrics fee of $85 may also apply if you will be providing your biometrics.
After you make payment, print two copies of the official IRCC receipt. You will attach one receipt to your application while you will keep one to yourself.
Step 5: Submit the Application
Providing your Biometrics
You will need to appear physically at the immigration centre in Colombia to provide your biometrics. If you are immigrating to Canada from Colombia with your family, they may also need to provide their biometrics and separate biometric fees will apply to each of them.
Your biometric information consists of your fingerprints and photograph. Providing your biometrics is a compulsory requirement when applying for a work permit online.
Eligibility Requirements to Apply for a Canada Work Permit from Colombia
Although there are different kinds of work permit you can apply for, there are certain eligibility requirements common to all of them. These are:
- Proof of proficiency in English or French Language
- Proof of sufficient funds through your bank statements, investment portfolio, tax certificates, etc.
- Ability to show your intention to leave Canada for Colombia once your work permit expires
- Clean criminal record. You can prove this through a police clearance certificate when asked
- You must not work for an organization whose found among IRCC’s list of non-compliant employers
- Medical examination and report
- A valid job offer for a job eligible for foreign workers
- Educational credentials
- Proof that you meet the job requirements. is usually through your resume, training and certifications you’ve received, and /or reference letter from past employers.
- International passport
If you are submitting any document that is not in English or French, as applicable, you must provide a certified translation alongside the document(s).
How to Extend your Canada Work Permit
Working in Canada as a foreigner is a temporary ordeal unless you apply to become a permanent resident. If however, you desire more time to work in Canada, you can apply to extend your work permit.
Extending an open work permit is easy unless the permit is one that cannot be extended. For an employer-specific work permit, however, you may need to apply for a new one altogether if you are switching employers.
Ensure you begin to apply for an extension of your work permit before the current one expires. If you don’t you must stop working and leave Canada immediately your current work permit is no longer valid.
It is possible that you do not wish to return to Colombia anymore after you have begun work in Canada. In that case, you will apply for Canadian permanent residency so you can remain in the country to work for as long as you wish.
If your Canada work permit expires while the IRCC is still processing your pr, you can apply for the Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP).
This is usually valid for about a year. By the time this permit expires, you would have known if your application for pr was successful or not.