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Meaning of Work For Canadian Immigration

by | Mar 20, 2021

It is generally known that in order for you to immigrate and work in Canada, you must first get issued a work permit. Canada’s immigration rules generally require persons wanting to come to Canada to work to be issued work permits with a few exceptions to the general rule such as the short term work permit exemption. 

Under the short term work permit  exemption, persons are able to travel to Canada and work temporarily for periods of 15 or 30 consecutive days within a one-year period without a work permit. Therefore, there are persons who may be able to travel to Canada  and work without an actual work permit though the general requirement of first obtaining a work permit. 

What Does It Mean To Work?

The Canadian immigration regulations define the term “work” for purposes of immigration. The regulations define work as an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the labour market. The definition raises two key factors to be considered when determining whether an activity is work in the context of Canadian immigration.

Wages Or Commission Earning

An activity fits the definition of work under the immigration regulations if you are receiving wages or commission for it. Wages includes remuneration or pay that is received for service or labour delivered.

It is worth noting that you may be in a position where the activities you are carrying out in Canada are being paid by an employer outside of Canada and still be categorised as work for immigration purposes.The critical thing is also to assess whether the activity is directly competing in the Canadian labour market. Nonetheless, both wages and competition do not have to be both present. It can be one or the other.

Directly Competing Activity In The Labour Market

An activity is also considered as work if it is competing with the activities for which Canadians would ordinarily have been engaged in the labour market. If the activity you are carrying out is an activity that a Canadian citizen or permanent resident would have been doing, it then means that the activity is work.

Additionally, it is also important to assess whether you will be engaging in an activity that is competitive in the Canadian labour market so as to take away the opportunity from a Canadian permanent resident or a Canadian citizen.

Activities Without Remuneration

As mentioned above, there are instances where you could be carrying out activities that you are not being paid for, but which nevertheless fit into the definition of work. For instance, you could be in Canada to obtain work experience on an internship or practicum program and you are not paid any remuneration. 

Such an activity will still likely fit into the definition of work because it also takes away the opportunity for a Canadian permanent resident or citizen to take part in the internship or practicum program. By virtue of that, the activity would fit into the definition of work. Therefore, you would require a Canadian work permit in order to carry out such activity.

Activities Outside The Scope Of The Definition Of Work

There are activities that do not fit into the definition of work under the immigration regulations. In such cases, you would not be required to obtain a work permit to perform the activity. For instance, you could be travelling to Canada to engage in volunteer work for which a person would not normally be remunerated. In other words, even if a Canadian permanent resident or citizen were to do the work you are doing, it would still have been charitable work with which they would not have been paid. Hence, such voluntary work does not fit into the definition of work.

Another example is in a case where you could be employed in your home country and your job allows you to work remotely. You could then decide to travel to Canada on vacation for a month or two and during that period you carry out the work related activities you would normally do in your home country remotely. Chances are that the activities you will be carrying out in Canada during your temporary stay in Canada, even though you would technically be doing your usual work, may not fit into the definition of work as per Canadian immigration law.

Notably, you can find a listing of other types of activities that do not fit into the definition of work as outlined in the immigration regulations on the Government immigration website. In conclusion, not all activities are within the definition of “work” to require you to obtain a work permit before you can engage in them under Canadian immigration law.

Let Us Help

If you need help with any work related immigration queries or applications, we are always available to provide the best professional assistance you need. 

Should you have any further questions regarding the meaning of work under Canadian immigration law, we are happy to advise you accordingly. 

Book a call with us today!

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