Surprising Truth Revealed: Can Foreign Workers in Canada Switch Employers? You Won’t Believe the Answer!

by | May 15, 2023

One of the questions Canadian employers often ask when hiring foreign nationals is whether the foreign workers can switch employers upon arrival in Canada. The answer is yes, but it will be easier for some and more difficult for others, depending on the type of work permit the foreign national is coming with.

Conditions on Work Permits

When a work permit is supported by an employer, and that employer arrives at the Port of Entry, a Canadian Border Services officer will issue that foreign worker a work permit. On that work permit, there will be certain conditions written onto the face of it, and also imposed on the work permit. One of those conditions will be that the worker will not be able to work for any other employer inside Canada, using that particular work permit.

Switching Employers on Work Permits

What that means is that should that employee decide that they want to go work for somebody else, then they will not be able to use that work permit. They will need to have a new work permit or at least be approved for a new work permit for this new employer they’re wanting to work with inside Canada.

Challenges in Applying for a New Work Permit

However, the process for applying for a new work permit can be challenging for a number of reasons. Firstly, generally, the rules don’t allow for new work permit applications from inside Canada. New work permit applications, as opposed to extensions of existing applications.

Even with the exemption that was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, it will still be a challenge for a foreign national who was initially supported by another employer to go apply for a new work permit. The options are going to be limited, and it makes it more difficult for the foreign worker to get approval for a new work permit after having just been issued an initial work permit that was supported by a previous employer.

Types of Work Permits

There are two types of work permits: closed work permit and open work permit. A closed work permit names the employer who has supported your application, while an open work permit allows the holder, the foreign national, to work for any employer inside Canada without restrictions on which employer they can work for. However, these types of work permits are only issued to select categories of workers, and they are not issued to workers who are on an employer-supported work permit.

Importance of Work Permit Type

It is important to note that other than a closed work permit, there’s another type of work permit called an open work permit. However, once an employer is involved in the work permit application process, there’s no option of that becoming an open work permit.


In conclusion, while foreign workers in Canada may switch employers, it will be challenging and difficult for them to do so, especially when they are under a work permit supported by another employer.


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