Persons who are not Canadian citizens or residents can apply to come to Canada to visit for a temporary period of time. To do this, the individual must obtain a visitor visa before coming to Canada from a Canadian Consulate. The point of visitor visa is to grant temporary entry to Canada to visit, vacation or even to survey the labour market. However, the entry must be temporary.
There are many countries, however, whose citizens do not require visitor visas before coming to Canada; these are called visa-exempt countries.
The standard maximum length of a visitor visa is 6 months. A visitor record can be extended after a person is in Canada.
If you wish to work in Canada, in almost all circumstances you require a work permit. Working without a permit will result in your removal from Canada. In brief: In order to get a work permit in Canada, most people, with limited exceptions, must first have an employment offer from an employer in Canada. The employer must then receive permission to hire a foreign worker. This permission is called a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) and it is granted not by Immigration, but by a different government bureaucracy called Skills Canada.
The reason for this first step is that Canada wishes to protect the labour market of its own citizens and residents. An employer must advertise the position and keep track of who applies. There are minimum durations of advertisements depending on the job, and some jobs require more than one ad. The ads must be placed in specific locations and there are specific wage rates that must be paid, according to the position. An employer must demonstrate that they cannot hire a Canadian to do the job advertised.
If an LMO is granted, an immigrant may apply for a work permit. Some people must apply to a Canadian Consulate while others may apply at a port of entry.
Of course, there are many exceptions to the above rule, much too detailed to address here. There are exemptions in the Immigration Act, and within international treaties such as NAFTA and GATS. There are also certain jobs which are exempt from job validations as well as others which are exempt from work permits, and there are different standards applied for persons such as international students in Canada. Our job, of course, is to assist you and your employer in gaining entry to the Canadian labour market by the quickest and most effective means possible.