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In the realm of Canadian immigration, understanding the intricacies of work permits is crucial for both aspiring immigrants and employers. The Canadian government offers two primary types of work permits: open work permits and closed work permits. Each type serves a different purpose and carries its own set of rules and limitations. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll delve into what sets these two permits apart, exploring their characteristics, application processes, and implications for holders and employers.

Introduction to Canadian Work Permits

Work permits in Canada are official documents that grant foreign nationals authorization to work in the country. The eligibility criteria, privileges, and restrictions vary significantly depending on whether the permit is open or closed.

Understanding the Open Work Permit in Canada

An open work permit is relatively flexible, allowing its holder to work for any employer in Canada. This type of permit is not confined to a specific job or location, making it an attractive option for those seeking versatility in their employment opportunities.

Benefits of Open Work Permits

  • Flexibility: Permit holders can work for any employer and switch jobs without needing to alter their permit.
  • Variety of Opportunities: They can explore various sectors and roles across Canada.
  • Ease for Employers: Employers do not need to provide a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to hire an individual with an open work permit.

Limitations of Open Work Permits

  • Eligibility Constraints: Open work permits are typically issued under specific circumstances, such as part of the International Experience Canada program, to refugees, or spouses of certain work permit or study permit holders.
  • Duration and Renewal: These permits are usually valid for a specific period and may require renewal or extension under certain conditions.

Deciphering the Closed Work Permit in Canada

A closed work permit, or employer-specific work permit, binds the holder to a specific employer and job in Canada. The permit outlines the terms of employment, including the position, location, and duration of work.

Benefits of Closed Work Permits

  • Employment Assurance: Employers are guaranteed that the employee is legally bound to work for them.
  • Pathway to Residency: For some, closed work permits can facilitate the journey to permanent residency in Canada.

Limitations of Closed Work Permits

  • Restricted Mobility: Workers cannot change employers or job positions without reapplying for a new permit.
  • Dependence on Employer: The permit’s validity is closely tied to the employment relationship with the specified employer.

Applying for an Open Work Permit in Canada

The application process for an open work permit varies based on the applicant’s status, the nature of their stay in Canada, and the specific immigration program they fall under. Common scenarios include spousal sponsorship, post-graduation work permits, or as part of humanitarian and compassionate considerations.

Applying for a Closed Work Permit in Canada

To obtain a closed work permit, individuals generally need a valid job offer from a Canadian employer. The employer may have to undergo a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, demonstrating that hiring a foreign national is necessary and that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available to fill the role.

Choosing the Right Permit: Considerations and Implications

Selecting between an open and closed work permit depends on individual circumstances, career objectives, and immigration status. Open work permits offer greater freedom but are often more challenging to obtain and are usually designated for specific groups of people. Closed work permits are more straightforward to acquire but are less flexible and heavily reliant on the employer-employee relationship.


Adhering strictly to the conditions of the work permit is absolutely vital. Failure to do so can result in serious repercussions. Firstly, there is the risk of permit revocation, stripping the individual of their legal working status. Subsequently, this could escalate to deportation, forcibly removing the individual from Canada. Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, non-compliance might lead to future inadmissibility, barring re-entry into Canada for an extended period, if not permanently.

Pax Law can help you!

Aspiring workers in Canada must understand the differences between open and closed work permits, each with unique characteristics, benefits, and limitations, shaping their professional journey in Canada.

People aiming to work in Canada or employers recruiting foreign nationals should seek advice from experienced immigration attorneys. These legal professionals specialize in Canadian immigration and offer personalized advice and guidance. They ensure compliance with immigration regulations and skillfully navigate the work permit application process.

Our team of skilled immigration lawyers and consultants is prepared and eager to support you to choose open or close work permit pathway. Please visit our appointment booking page to make an appointment with one of our lawyers or consultants; alternatively, you can call our offices at +1-604-767-9529.


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