Canada PR Vs Work Permits

Temporary Work Permits vs. Permanent Residency

The concept of a Canadian temporary work permit can sound very appealing. Often there is less paper work required and the processing times are faster when compared to a permanent residence application. All of which means, generally speaking, you can come to Canada faster.

What people often don’t consider is the temporary and inflexible nature of a work permit. With very few exceptions you are typically granted a closed work permit.

What does this mean for you? If granted a closed work permit you would be restricted to work for the same employer, at the same position until the employer no longer requires your services or when your work permit expires, whichever comes first. Or let’s say your employer no longer needs your services, what do you do? You would have to secure a new job offer with a new employer and again apply for a new work permit that might not even be successfully approved.

As an immigration attorney I hear so many sad stories of foreign workers that get fired from their jobs or their work permit expires and they lose their status and gainful employment in Canada. But most importantly to me, is that so many foreign workers are forced leave their families behind and don’t get to see their children grow up.  It is a very noble sacrifice to leave your family behind to ensure that they have what they need but what if you could do both. Make the salary you need to support your family while also having your family with you while you’re doing it.

So what’s the alternative? Canadian Permanent Residency.

Being a Canadian Permanent Resident means you are able to live and work in Canada with the same freedoms as a citizen. You don’t have to look for a Canadian job offer and put forth the extra effort of obtaining a new work permit. Additionally, Canadian Permanent Residency rights are also granted to your dependent family, which is NOT the case when dealing with temporary work permits.

For all intents and purposes, Canadian Permanent Residence is equivalent to a US Green Card. Do most people want a temporary work permit to the USA or do they want permanent status there? From my experience it tends to be the latter.

So why the obsession with Canadian work permits? The short answer is, I don’t know. But I don’t think that taking foreign workers into our country, allowing them to work (at salaries typically less than a Canadian would be entitled to), pay taxes and contribute to our society only to send them packing back to their home country is a very Canadian ideal. Could you imagine if that is how it always was? Our population would be rapidly declining, our economy shrinking and the prosperity enjoyed by so many in Canada today, would be only for the few.

For the reasons mentioned above my office does not deal temporary work permits. The majority of my clients are nurses applying from outside of Canada, for permanent residency, based on their employment and educational credentials. Many of my clients ask “do I have to be a nurse when I come to Canada? What if I want to be a doctor or stay at home and raise my children?” I am always proud to tell them that as a Canadian Permanent Resident no one can restrict your lawful employment and no employer has the power to control your status in Canada.

As a permanent resident you can be a nurse, doctor, stay at home parent or even an astronaut, the choice is yours!

Another Way to look at it is

Know the difference between immigration visa and temporary work visa:

What is Immigration or Permanent residency Visa?

  • A document allowing a person to live and work anywhere inCanada
  • Confers permanent resident status.
  • Can sponsor family members for Permanent resident status.
  • Comes with certain responsibilities and can be revoked if the holder is out of the country for too long, or is guilty of some criminal activity.
  • A permanent resident may apply for Citizenship after 3 years.

How is an Employment authorization different from an Immigration Visa?

  • An Employment Authorization permits an eligible visitor to reside and work inCanadafor a limited period of time
  • Restrictions are usually placed on the type of employment
  • It will not, by itself, lead to Canadian permanent resident status.


Temporary Work Permit & Visa

(H1 B, Job visa, Work visa etc.)

Canadian Permanent Residency (PR) Visa / Immigration Visa

“Can not change sponsoring employer leaving with very little negotiating power and in some cases other abuses of this power”. Free to move between jobs and locations.  Even work on contract as a consultant which could result in tax benefits.
“In case of getting laid off, or the company closing down, have to leave the Country within a few days. (out of status problems)”. Free to find another job.   While unemployed, unemployment insurance is a strong “safety net”.
“Have a strong desire to start own business. Unable to do so.” Individuals can commence their businesses by registering with the Ministry of Consumer Relations.
If spouse wishes to work, need to arrange for sponsorship from potential employers; thus creating a barrier in finding employment. Spouse can legally work in Canada.  No permits or authorizations needed.
Limitation of returning to origin of country if Green Card is not approved prior to 6 year limit on H 1 B Visa. No such risk, upon landing inCanada, new immigrants and their families receive permanent resident visa status.
Cannot sponsor family members besides spouse and dependent children. Permanent residents (PR) can sponsor other family members (parents, dependent siblings besides spouse & dependent kids).
Long wait for the Green Card and then longer wait for the Citizenship. Permanent Residents (PR) can apply for citizenship after 3 years of stay in Canada.
Traveling outside of the USAcan face renewal risks when returning. PR can travel anywhere, anytime as long as the residency obligation of 2 years accumulated residency out of 5 years are met.