Canadian Work Permits For Nigerians: All You Need To Know

As a Nigerian looking to work in Canada, you have several options for getting a work permit. The Canadian government offers several programs that can provide Nigerians with work authorization, depending on their skills, education, work experience, and more.

In this blog post, we’ll explain the main paths Nigerians can take to secure a Canadian work permit so you can find the best option for your situation.

Guide to Getting a Work Permit in Canada

Get a Job Offer from a Canadian Employer

  • This is the most straightforward option if you have a concrete job offer
  • Your Employers must get a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment.
  • Work permit processing can take 2-3 months.

One of the most straightforward ways for Nigerians to obtain a Canadian work permit is to secure a concrete job offer from a Canadian employer. The employer must demonstrate that they couldn’t find Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill the position, and to do this, they must get a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada.

This assessment considers the job offer details, your qualifications and experience, the employer’s recruitment efforts, and market salary rates. If approved, the LMIA will be issued for that specific job. With the job offer letter and positive LMIA, you can apply for a temporary Canadian work permit, typically valid for up to 3 years. Processing times for work permit applications tend to take 2-3 months.

Apply Through Express Entry

The Express Entry system manages applications for three of Canada’s economic immigration programs – Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades, and Canadian Experience Class. While Express Entry is often a pathway to permanent residence, it can also lead to a temporary work permit.

In particular, foreign nationals in Canada who have at least 12 months of skilled work experience may qualify for the Canadian Experience Class. If you work in Canada on a temporary permit, you may be eligible for an Express Entry-linked work permit. First, You must complete an Express Entry profile and enter the pool. If you get invited to apply based on your strong profile scores, you can apply directly for the work permit through Express Entry. Processing is fast, often within 6-12 weeks if you are invited to apply.

International Mobility Program

  • For workers in certain occupations (sports, media)
  • No LMIA required
  • Must meet eligibility criteria
  • Processing in 4-8 weeks

The International Mobility Program allows some foreign workers to get a Canadian work permit without needing an LMIA. This program has streams for various occupational categories, such as athletes and coaches, media workers, academics, intra-company transfers, and more. Each category has its eligibility criteria.

For example, the International Experience Canada initiative under the IMP provides work permits to children aged 18-35 for up to 2 years. As long as you meet the eligibility requirements and present the necessary documentation, you may qualify for an IMP work permit, typically processed within 4-8 weeks.

Obtain Provincial Nomination

If you have the specific skills, education and work experience in demand by a particular Canadian province, you may be eligible for the Provincial Nominee Program. Each province has its criteria for who they nominate based on economic immigration priorities. Candidates first apply to the province where they want to live and work, and if nominated, can get an expedited work permit in some cases.

Nomination is also a pathway to applying for permanent residence. So, if you meet the eligibility criteria of provinces like Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, etc., a provincial nomination is an excellent work permit option with long-term Canadian immigration benefits.

Spousal Open Work Permit

If your spouse lives with you in Canada and holds an eligible work permit – such as an LMIA-based or post-graduate work permit – you may qualify for an open spousal work permit. This allows the spouse or common-law partner to work for any Canadian employer rather than one specific job.

To get the open spousal work permit, you must meet eligibility criteria related to the relationship, cohabitation, and other documentation. If approved, spousal open work permits are typically issued for the same duration as the primary work permit holder, such as 1-3 years. Processing times are often around 2-3 months.

Apply as a Post-Graduate Worker

International students on study permits can access a great work permit option after completing their credentials from eligible Canadian schools. The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program allows students to gain valuable Canadian work experience in their field of study after graduation. You must have continuously studied full-time in Canada and graduated from a minimum 1-year program to qualify.

The post-graduate work permit is typically valid for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of 3 years. A Canadian degree, diploma or certificate, and work permit can help provide a strong foundation for potential permanent residence if you apply under Express Entry.

Apply as a NAFTA Professional

Due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), citizens of the US and Mexico have special work permit access in certain professions. NAFTA lists over 60 professions – including accountants, engineers, teachers, lawyers, etc. If your occupation is on the NAFTA list, you may qualify by showing a pre-arranged employment offer or contract from a Canadian employer.

NAFTA work permits are initially issued for 1-3 years, with possible renewals in some cases. US and Mexican citizens can also apply for open work permits under NAFTA after meeting additional eligibility criteria. Overall, NAFTA provides streamlined work authorization for professionals from partner countries.

Bring Essential Skills as a Temporary Foreign Worker

Foreign nationals with specialized skills and work experience may be able to get a temporary Canada work permit under the Essential Skills stream. This requires having a concrete job offer from an employer, who must then get a positive LMIA. The main criteria are that your specialized skills are urgently needed by the employer and you can effectively carry out the job duties.

Essential Skills work permits are issued for up to 2 years if approved. Lower-skilled occupations may be restricted under this program, so higher-skilled positions often have the best chance for success. With an Essential Skills permit, you can gain valuable Canadian work experience and language ability to support permanent residence goals.

Other Programs and Routes

There are a few other Canadian work permit programs and routes that may be options in some cases, such as:

  • Significant Public Benefit: for work in cultural or athletic events, internationally competitive positions, etc.
  • Reciprocal Employment: for approved professionals covered by agreements with specific countries
  • Charitable or Religious Work: for those doing volunteer or mission work with eligible organizations
  • Researchers: for approved foreign researchers with job offers from Canadian institutions

Each of these programs has its specific eligibility requirements. While less common for Nigerians, they provide additional options to explore based on your unique profile and situation.

When assessing your options for Canadian work permits, keep the following tips in mind:

– Target provinces with immigration priorities aligned with your skills, education, work experience, etc. Some PNPs fall under Express Entry, which can facilitate the permit and transition to PR.
– Programs like the Atlantic Immigration Pilot allow Nigerians to get job offers from employers in the Atlantic provinces.
– Consider pursuing further education in Canada to open the post-graduate work Permit route after graduation.
– Research Canadian employers, particularly larger companies, with experience hiring and supporting foreign worker permits and LMIAs.
– Hiring an immigration lawyer can help maximize your options and develop the strongest application.

With the right strategy tailored to your background, Nigerians can obtain Canada work permits as skilled immigrants through various programs. Focus on your strengths, follow program requirements, and present a strong application.

This covers the main options and considerations for Nigerians seeking to work in Canada temporarily. For further details on Canadian work permits or permanent residence, check for updated guides and resources to support your immigration journey.