How do I apply for a work permit as a refugee claimant?

You'll need to talk to a settlement worker, gather your documents, and pay a fee to apply for an open work permit as a refugee claimant.

Who can apply?

Normally, people need to apply for a work permit before coming to Canada. One exception to this rule is if you're a refugee claimant.

Refugee claimants can apply for open work permits, which is a type of work permit that allows you to work for any employer in Canada. You can apply for an open work permit from within Canada if:

  • You're waiting to hear back from the Refugee Protection Division about your refugee claim;
  • You've been recognized by the Refugee Proection Division as a convention refugee or protected person; or
  • Your claim has been rejected but you can't be removed from Canada for reasons beyond your control.

You can learn more about what other kinds of work permits you can apply for and next steps by answering a few questions.

Make sure you're well informed and know the process before you begin your application so there aren't any surprises. Here's what we suggest you do. 

Talk to a settlement worker 

It’s a good idea to start by visiting your settlement counsellor or your nearest settlement agency. They'll be able to answer your questions and help you with your application. To find a settlement agency in your area, look for Services Near Me

Give your biometrics

In most cases, you'll need to provide your fingerprints and photos for the application. You'll also need to pay the biometrics fee:

  • $85 for individual applicants
  • $170 max for families applying at the same time

Gather your documents

Check the Document Checklist to help you gather the supporting documents you need to apply for your work permit. You'll need:

  • Proof of identity (a valid passport or travel document, 2 pictures of yourself and family members)
  • Proof of employment in Canada (Offer of Employment number or employment contract; proof that you're eligible for the job)
  • Proof of relationship (marriage or birth certificates if you're bringing family members)

You may need additional supporting documents so make sure you check the Document Checklist. 

Save money for application fees

In addition to the biometric fees mentioned above, there may be other fees to pay:

  • $155 for a work permit application processing fee
  • $100 for an open work permit holder fee (refunded if your application is refused)

Submit your application

To apply online, answer some questions to find out what immigration programs you can apply for. Based on your answers, you'll be given step-by-step instructions on what to do next, as well as a personal reference code you'll need to use for your online application. 

To apply on paper, you'll need to:

  1. Read the instruction guide to help you fill out your application. 
  2. Fill out, validate, sign and date the forms
  3. Pay the fees.
  4. Mail your application.

What's next?

You can check your application status online or contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 

IRCC will inform you in writing if:

  • Your application is approved
  • You need to take any further action regarding your application
  • Your application is rejected as "incomplete" and you need to re-apply 
  • Your application is refused 

Good luck!