You might be relocating to Vancouver in order to find work. Sometimes there are skill shortages in certain fields; Canada welcomes applicants to fill these kinds of positions. Perhaps you are already studying in Canada and wish to be able to work. In both cases, you will need to apply for a work permit, and, with the exception of the latter, you would need to apply for the work permit before arriving in Canada. Citizens of non-exempt countries would also need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa. Your best bet if you want to explore Vancouver and what job opportunities may be available, is to enter Canada as a visitor which allows you to, usually, stay for six months. See the “You Want to go on Reconnaissance” section for details.
If you are considering relocating to Vancouver in order to find work, you must consider the fact that most employers consider Canadian citizens and permanent residents first for any job opening, and foreign/temporary residents second. Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) is interested in protecting the rights of Canadian permanent resident and citizen job seekers. Also, a work permit is not a means to stay permanently in Canada. This is why it is referred to as temporary. There are, however, critical shortages in certain fields, and the application process in these cases has been expedited to make it easier for people with these skills to come to Canada to work.
Fields with shortages include:
- Information Technology (certain jobs only),
- Live-in Caregivers,
- and Business (one of over sixty occupations listed in NAFTA + traders and investors + intra-company transferees).
Some jobs don’t require a work permit.
A complete list of these jobs can be found here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/apply-who-nopermit.asp, and includes foreign diplomats and representatives, members of the clergy, students working on campus, military personnel, performing artists, and journalists, among others.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has published a comprehensive manual with guidelines and helpful information for foreign workers and can be accessed here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/manuals/fw/fw01-eng.pdf. Information on significant changes to the foreign temporary worker program can be found here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/tfw.asp.
If you are already studying in Canada and want to be able to work off campus, you must apply for a work permit, but this is not difficult and processing times are usually fast. In order to be considered eligible for the work permit, you must be a full-time student at a public post-secondary educational institution (in Vancouver it is likely to be one of these three: the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, or the British Columbia Institute of Technology) or a private institution (only approved programs at eligible institutions) holding a valid study permit. You must also have been a full-time student for at least six months before applying for the work permit, and be in good academic standing. If you meet the criteria, you may submit your application by mail, or, it is now possible to submit the application electronically, on the CIC website. Complete information can be found here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/work-students.asp.
Once you have been granted a work permit, you are then authorized to work part-time, up to twenty hours per week, off campus, while school is in session, and full-time during summer holidays and other breaks. It is important to remember that you must maintain your eligibility at all times in order to retain your work permit; otherwise, you must return the permit to a local CIC office and will no longer be able to work off campus. If you do lose your eligibility and promptly return your work permit, you would then be able to reapply for the permit if you regain eligibility. However, if you fail to return the permit upon loss of eligibility, you may not be allowed to reapply, and, more importantly, this can jeopardize your legal status in Canada.
The CIC website (listed above) provides a wealth of information on this and related topics, and offers the most up-to-date information on the regulations and guidelines regarding foreign residents/workers in Canada. As well, all of the forms you will need to fill out for various applications can be downloaded, filled out on the computer, and printed, or you can order an application package by mail. Fees for various applications can be paid online as well, and you can then print out an official receipt of payment form (IMM 5401) to mail or send in with your application. This makes the application process extremely convenient and expedient.