Working in Canada

One of the most important aspects of moving to a new country is finding a job, and often this is also directly connected to getting a visa. Throughout our Working in Canada section, we have simplified the ins and outs of working in Canada.

We have provided helpful advice for writing a Canadian style resume, finding a job, and getting your foreign credentials or qualifications recognized. We have also provided an overview of Canadian income tax, employee’s rights, the pension system and how to obtain your all-important social insurance number.

For further information on working in Canada, come along to our Newcomers Canada Fairs, where you can speak directly to employment, education, immigration and settlement experts.



Writing a Resume

In Canada, a CV or Curriculum Vitae is referred to as a resume.  A typical resume contains a summary of your relevant job experience and education. It is often a good idea to start with a brief summary of your experience, highlighting strengths and reasons why an employer should hire you. Often this opening statement is the only item on your resume an employer will read, so it’s important to catch their attention immediately.

 It’s very important that you tailor your resume to the job and/or employer you are applying to, for example if you’re applying for a Customer Service Job with a retail company, customize your opening summary to reflect any specific experience you have in retail and any experience of dealing with members of the public.

Compared to a CV, your resume should be shorter. Remember, employers don’t want to be reading through pages and pages of employment and educational achievements. What they do want to see is your recent employment experience (start with the most recent job you’ve had) then work back in chronological order. Employment should be supported by academic achievements. If you have completed a lot of short training courses, you should focus on the most recent achievements or those that are most relevant to the job you are applying for.


Tips for Writing your Resume
  • Resume Size: Having 1-2 pages is more than enough. Your resume should reflect the level of experience and education that you have; if this fits on one page, use one page but don’t try to squeeze everything onto one page.
  • Cover Letter: Attaching a cover letter is very important. Make it relevant to the position and company you are applying to. Ideally, find out the name of the person hiring and make the letter personal. Try to avoid using generic greetings such as ‘Sir/Madam’.
  • Personal Information: You don’t have to include your date of birth, marital status or religion in a resume and there is legislation in place that prohibits employers from asking you these questions.
  • References: If you are including references on your resume, it is only polite to ask their permission first.
  • Important Documents: Once you have written your resume, you should pull together all school records, diplomas and degrees as employers may want to see them. In addition, any trade or professional qualification documentation should also be collected for presentation. If you have any written references you should also include these, but there is no need to send these documents with your resume.   You should have them ready to present to an employer if needs be.

A useful online resume builder is available on the Canadian Government’s job website, This is free, but you will need to create an account. 



The best time to search for a job in Canada is when you have arrived in the country, as you will have easier access to resources, and will be on hand for phone calls and interviews. Depending on your Canadian visa type, you may need to obtain a work permit or be sponsored by an employer before you begin working. If you are unsure of what you require before working, take a look at our ‘Immigrating’ section.

You may also need to get your qualifications accredited by a Canadian association; many professions such as law, nursing, tradespeople etc. are required to do this. For more information, see our section on ‘Credential Recognition’.


Where to Look

The internet is currently the most popular place to look for jobs. The Newcomers Canada’s Job Board is a great place to start your job search, particularly as the majority of jobs advertised offer visa sponsorship. Alternatively, the Canadian government job board with positions nationwide is

Social media is becoming a great way to connect with potential employers and many companies now advertise their jobs on their social media pages. LinkedIn has become the world’s largest business network where lots of employers post jobs and choose candidates based on their LinkedIn profile, which is basically an online CV. The website also allows you to connect and network with lots of recruiters and business professionals.

Another popular way to get a job is to use a recruitment agency. Once you know what type of job and work you are looking for, the next step is to find a recruitment agency that specializes in the type of work that you want to do. The Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services provide a full list of recruitment agencies broken down by province and territory as well as industry classifications  on their website. Once you find suitable companies to contact, it’s recommended to call them and ask to speak with a consultant.

Another great place to network and search for jobs is through specific professional and trade associations. Most professions and trades in Canada have registered bodies that represent the interest of members e.g. Engineers Canada or Canada Nurses Association. These organizations provide networking opportunities as well as foreign credential recognition, business advice and support, training and education on behalf of the industry or profession they represent.




Credential recognition is the process of verifying that the education, training and job experience you have obtained in another country are equivalent to the standards established for Canadian workers.  


Here are some things you need to know:
  • Qualifying to immigrate to Canada does not mean that your education, work experience and professional credentials are automatically recognized in Canada.
  • Working in some jobs in Canada, including certain trades may require a license. To get a license, you will need to have your credentials recognized.
  • You can start the credential assessment and recognition process before you arrive in Canada.
  • Getting your credentials recognized takes time and costs money.

There are three main reasons you will need to get your credentials recognized – if you are coming to Canada as a Federal Skilled Worker, to work in a specific industry or trade, or if you are coming to Canada to study.


Immigrating as a Federal Skilled Worker

If you have come to Canada as a Federal Skilled Worker under the Express Entry program, you will need to get your education qualifications assessed, otherwise known as obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment(ECA). An ECA verifies whether your foreign degree or qualification is valid and equal to a Canadian credential. As a Federal Skilled Worker, you may also have to get your skills and training assessed to work in certain jobs.


Working in Certain Trades

There are two types of occupations in Canada: regulated and unregulated.

A profession which sets a certain standard for how the profession is practiced is called a regulated profession. In Canada, about 20 percent of jobs are in occupations regulated by the provincial or territorial governments. Through legislation and regulations, the provinces and territories give professional organizations the authority to regulate certain professions. The role of these organizations is to protect public health and safety and to ensure that professionals meet the required standards of practice and competence.

If you want to work in a regulated occupation and use a regulated title, you must have a licence or certificate or be registered with the body responsible for regulating your occupation in the province or territory where you plan to work. Some fields where regulated occupations are commonly found include:

  • health care
  • financial services
  • law and legal services
  • engineering

Other regulated occupations include skilled trades. Requirements for entry into a regulated occupation can vary between provinces and territories. They usually include:

  • Examinations
  • An evaluation of language and communication skills
  • A specified period of supervised work experience
  • Fees

Each regulated occupation sets its own requirements for getting a licence or certificate, usually through the provincial or territorial regulatory body or professional association.

A non-regulated occupation is one you can work in without a licence, certificate or registration. Most jobs in Canada are in non- regulated occupations. Requirements for employment vary between employers.  It is up to the employer to decide whether the qualifications you have earned outside Canada are equivalent to the Canadian qualifications needed for the job.


Studying in Canada

If you intend to study in Canada, you will need to have your educational qualifications assessed. Sometimes a post-secondary institution or college will do this in Canada, or you may have to use an assessment agency.

For more information on credential recognition in Canada, see Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) or the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC).

Source: Welcome to Canada: What you should know, Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2013.



Residents of Canada, including temporary foreign workers, must pay income tax on income received throughout the year. If you receive a salary, taxes are deducted automatically throughout the year. If you are self-employed, you may be required to pay your taxes in a single payment or in several payments. Each year, you must submit an Income Tax and Benefit Return to inform the government of how much money you earned and how much tax you paid. If you paid too much tax, you will get a refund. If you paid too little, you will have to pay more.

By filing an Income Tax and Benefit Return, you may qualify for various government benefits, such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) and the Goods and Services Tax/ Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit. You may also qualify for benefits from provincial or territorial government programs. Unfortunately most benefits are not available to temporary foreign workers (only permanent residents and citizens) but for more information, see Canada Revenue Agency.

You can obtain income tax forms from any post office or CRA tax services office (for addresses, go to the Canadian Revenue Agency or see the Blue Pages). Federal and provincial income tax forms come in the same package, except in the province of Quebec. Your address on December 31 of each year determines in which province you have to file your tax forms. So, if you lived in Quebec at the end of the year, you will have to file a separate provincial tax return. For more information, visit Revenu Québec’s website.

If you are leaving Canada for an extended period of time, make sure to notify the CRA as you may need to file an income tax return for that year.

The CRA has many publications that may be helpful to newcomers (consult They also have volunteers who can help you fill out your tax forms, under the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. This is a free service.

Source: Welcome to Canada: What you should know, Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2013.




If you are unemployed, you might be eligible to receive Employment Insurance (EI) depending on whether you meet certain requirements. EI provides temporary financial assistance (regular benefits) while you look for work or upgrade your skills.

You may also receive temporary financial assistance from EI if you are:

  • Sick, injured or subject to quarantine for health reasons;
  • Pregnant or caring for a new-born or adopted child; or
  • Caring for a family member who is seriously ill with a significant risk of death.

If you work in Canada, you must pay EI contributions so that you can benefit from EI in a time of need. Your employer will usually deduct EI contributions directly from your paycheque. EI benefits are also available to self-employed people who choose to participate in the EI program. To benefit from EI, you must apply and meet certain eligibility criteria.

For detailed information on EI and how to apply, consult the Service Canada website, call Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218 or visit a Service Canada Centre in person (see the Blue Pages or the Service Canada website for locations).

Source: Welcome to Canada: What you should know, Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2013.



You should apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) as soon as possible after you arrive in Canada. A SIN is a nine- digit number provided by Service Canada on behalf of the federal government. You will need this number to work in Canada or to apply for government programs and benefits. You must present one of the following documents when you apply for a SIN:


Permanent residents
  • Permanent resident card from CIC: this is the only acceptable document if your permanent residence application was processed in Canada.
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence AND visa counterfoil affixed to your foreign passport or travel document.
  • Work permit from CIC, Study permit from CIC or Visitor record from CIC indicating that you are authorized to work in Canada.


Temporary residents         

To apply for a SIN, simply gather the documents you need and take them to your nearest Service Canada Centre. The Service Canada agent will need to see the original documents (not copies). If your application and documents are in order, you will get a SIN in one visit. For more information about the SIN, visit Service Canada.

You can also call Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218 (select option 3) or visit a Service Canada Centre in person (see the Blue Pages of the telephone book for Service Canada.


Protecting your SIN

Your SIN is confidential. You share the responsibility with Service Canada for protecting your SIN from inappropriate use, fraud and theft. Only provide your SIN when it is required. For example:

  • To show to your new employer, after you have found a job;
  • For income tax purposes;
  • To show to financial institutions (for example, banks) where you are earning interest or income;
  • To apply for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Employment Insurance (EI), Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) or other benefits (see the section on Employment and income);
  • To apply for a Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) or a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP); or
  • To receive a Canada Student Loan.

Contact Service Canada if you change your name, if your citizenship status changes, or if information on your SIN record is incorrect or incomplete. Also inform Service Canada if your SIN card is lost or if you suspect that your SIN is being wrongly used. You should never use your SIN card as a piece of identification and should not carry it with you. Store it safely at home. Never provide your SIN over the telephone unless you make the call and you know the person you are speaking with. Finally, never reply to emails that ask you for personal information such as your SIN.

Source: Welcome to Canada: What you should know, Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2013.



In Canada, provincial and federal labour laws are designed to protect employees and employers. These laws set minimum salaries, health and safety standards, hours of work, parental leave and annual paid vacations, and they provide protection for children. There are also laws that prevent employers from treating employees unfairly based on sex, age, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation. You should learn about provincial and federal labour laws before you begin work in Canada, as many labour laws vary between provinces.

You have the right to join a labour union in Canada and it is often an involuntary requirement whether you choose it or not. Union fees will be deducted from your salary.

If you feel that your employer or union has treated you unfairly, you may ask for advice or assistance from an officer of the ministry responsible for labour in the province or territory where you work. You can also visit a Service Canada Centre to talk to a federal government labour affairs officer (see the Blue Pages or for locations).

For more information, take a look at the Service Canada website.

Source: Welcome to Canada: What you should know, Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2013.



Canada Pension Plan

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a program for workers and their families. It provides a measure of protection to cover loss of income due to retirement, disability or death.

Anyone who works in Canada is required to pay into the CPP. Your employer will deduct CPP contributions directly from your paycheques. The amount you pay is based on your salary. If you are self-employed, it is based on your net business income (after expenses).

You can get more information about the CPP at Service Canada website or by visiting a Service Canada Centre (see the Blue Pages or the Service Canada website for telephone numbers and locations).

In the province of Quebec, the CPP is replaced by an equivalent Quebec Pension Plan (QPP). For more information, consult the Quebec government website  (click on “Our Programs,” then “Quebec Pension Plan”).


Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement

The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is a monthly payment that is available to most people aged 65 or older. The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a monthly benefit paid to eligible seniors living in Canada who receive OAS and who have little or no other income.

To apply for OAS or GIS, you must be 65 years or older, a Canadian citizen or a legal resident of Canada, and you must have lived in Canada for at least 10 years on the day before the application is approved.

You can get more information about these programs at the Service Canada website or by visiting a Service Canada Centre (see the Blue Pages or the Service Canada website for locations).


International Social Security Agreements

Canada has international social security agreements with many countries which allow people who have lived in those countries to receive pension benefits. People who have lived or worked in another country may be able to receive social security benefits from that country or OAS and CPP benefits in Canada.

You can get more information about Canada’s social security agreements and how they apply to you at Service Canada website or by visiting a Service Canada Centre (see the Blue Pages or the Service Canada website for locations).

Source: Welcome to Canada: What you should know, Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2013.



Internships are a great way to gain experience in a certain field, and are very popular with students, recent graduates and newcomers in Canada. An internship is a professional working position in a company for a short period of time (usually 3-6 months). Internships offer a worker the opportunity to gain valuable experience, and may be paid or unpaid. They are also an excellent way to learn about an industry and make contacts that can help you secure a full time job in the future.


How to Find an Internship

You can find an internship in much the same way that you would look for a job, i.e. by searching online and in publications, sending off resumes and cover letters, and going to interviews. It can often be easier to find an internship than a full time job, as interns work on a more casual basis, and are often unpaid.

As well as the usual career and job board websites which offer internships and placements in private companies, the government body Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration (CAPPA) provides a website for post-secondary students to apply for internships in the public sector.


Benefits to Newcomers

Having Canadian work experience is often an advantage when looking for a job in Canada. One way of gaining this experience is by volunteering or accepting an internship in your field of work. Volunteering and internships can help you:

  • Gain Canadian work experience to put on your resume;
  • Develop your knowledge of the Canadian workplace;
  • Improve your English or French; and
  • Meet people and develop a network of contacts that can help you find work opportunities or provide you with references.


International Students

If you are an international student and work experience or an internship is part of your college program, you will need a work permit for this. To obtain a work permit, you must have a valid study permit, and the work must be essential to your study program. You may not be eligible for a work permit if you study English or French as a second language. You can submit an application through the IRCC website.



The most common way for employers to sponsor individuals to work in Canada is through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which is a temporary employer-sponsored visa used by Canadian employers to fill positions when they can’t find anyone in the local labour market.

To be granted this visa you need to secure a job with a Canadian employer. Your new employer must then obtain an Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) where they’ll need to prove that your skills cannot be sourced from within Canada . To find out more about LMIA’s, see our ‘What is an LMIA?’ section.

Your right to stay and work in Canada depends on your employer continuing to sponsor you but most foreign workers on a temporary visa will be subject to a 4-year limit on the length of time they may work in Canada. If you want to change jobs, your new employer must apply to CIC and be accepted to sponsor you.

There are plenty of ways to find an employer to sponsor you. Many employers will proactively seek candidates at recruitment exhibitions, like our Newcomers Canada Fairs. It is worth finding out which employers from your industry will be attending these events and going to meet them in person.

Employers will also advertise on job search websites and through recruiters. The Canadian Government’s official job search website Job Bank is a useful first step or alternatively search for jobs on our Job Board. Finally, a lot of jobs in Canada are not advertised, but are filled through personal and professional contacts. To increase your chances of finding these jobs you should directly contact employers you would like to work for. You could also join professional industry associations.


Helpful Links

Canadian Job Bank
ECA Website
CRA Website

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