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Working in Vancouver

Working in Vancouver

Building in Downtown Vancouver. Photo by Pete Crumpton.

If you’re coming to Vancouver for a longer stay you may be tempted to find work, though this should not be done unless you have a valid work permit.

When you enter Canada you will usually be coming in on a visitor visa, which will be granted for a period of between 3 and 6 months. This only permits you to stay in the country for this period of time and does not permit you to work or study.

There are no doubt a number of people in Vancouver who are working illegally for employers who know this is the case. An employer should ask to see your Social Insurance Number and you will only be able to obtain one of these if you have a valid work permit.

Obtaining a Work Permit

Work permits are difficult to come by because any vacant jobs should, understandably, first be filled by a Canadian. There is nothing to stop you applying for jobs, but you should be prepared for a lot of let-downs. Often, employers won’t even look at your resume (CV) if they realize you’re not a Canadian resident. Even if they are interested in employing you there is then a long process the employer must go through in order to get you the work permit. The employer needs to prove that they have made sufficient effort to find a Canadian for the job, then they must apply on your behalf for the work permit.

Work permits can be temporary, or the offer of work can be used as a means of boosting an application for permanent residency, though this is a long process!

See the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for more details about obtaining a work permit.

Working Holiday Visas and Student Swap Programs

New Zealanders and Australians are able to apply for a one year working holiday visa if they are between the ages of 18 and 30. Numbers are limited and of course there are many applicants so if you’re interested in doing this you must apply early.

Australians should contact the Canadian Consulate General in Sydney on 02-9364-3082 or visit the WHP Canada website.

New Zealanders should contact Wellington’s Canadian High Commission on 04-473-9577 or visit the Wellington's Canadian High Commision website.

The Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP) is another option and is open to students of other nationalities too including ones in Europe and from the United States. About 20 different countries participate in the program. These are usually for people under 30, though sometimes the age limit is 35. Visit the SWAP Canada website for more information.