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HRSDC Exemptions

Generally, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Officers will be reluctant to grant HRSDC exemptions for work that does not have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour market. Exemptions will be granted in cases where the social, cultural or economic benefits to Canada of the work are clear and compelling.

The admission of foreign workers on a temporary basis is deemed to be of significant benefit to Canada and does not require HRSDC job offer confirmation in the following instances:

International Agreements


Canada has entered a number of international agreements that facilitate the entry of foreign workers. Notable among these are the NAFTA and GATS. Admission of foreign workers under these agreements is considered to be of significant benefit and does not require HRSDC confirmation.


Entrepreneurs/self-employed candidates


An HRSDC exemption will be granted to private entrepreneurs who wish to come to Canada temporarily in order to start or operate a business. It will be necessary to demonstrate to CIC that the intended business will be of significant benefit to Canada despite being temporary in nature (for example, a necessary and viable seasonal operation or the operation will be left to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident upon departure). Benefit to the entrepreneur’s Canadian clients will also be considered, particularly if the temporary work will provide unique services. Additionally, applicants under this category are expected to be sole or majority owners of the business they wish to implement in Canada.


Intra-company transfers


Work permits may be granted without HRSDC confirmation for specific types of workers (executives, managers or specialized knowledge workers) who will be transferred temporarily to Canada from overseas affiliates of Canadian enterprises. To learn more about intra-company transfers, click here.


Emergency repair personnel


Emergency repair personnel are personnel whose expertise and aid are required in Canada to provide emergency relief and to avoid the disruption of employment. Their entry is of significant benefit to Canadians.


Persons hired under reciprocal employment for a Canadian in a foreign company including Academic Exchanges


CIC will allow foreign citizens to work temporarily in Canada if the employment provides a reciprocal employment opportunity for a Canadian citizen abroad. Such situations should result in neutral effects on the Canadian labour market and would be processed without requiring HRSDC job offer confirmation.

This category of work includes:

  • Student exchanges including SWAP programs (Student Work Abroad Programs)

Applications for SWAP working holiday programs must be filed in the home country of the foreign worker.

  • Academic exchanges – exchanges of scholars to and from Canadian institutions of higher learning. In such cases, strict job-for-job reciprocity is not required. This category extends to:
    • Guest Lecturers – persons invited by post-secondary institutions to give a series of seminars and lectures during a temporary and non-continuing time period. This time period usually is less than a complete semester.

    • Teachers, elementary and secondary – all elementary and secondary school teachers coming to Canada under teacher exchange programs.

    • Visiting professors – in Canada for 2 years or less in a position at a post-secondary institution although still officially hired by the foreign school.


Charitable or religious work


Workers coming to Canada to carry out duties for religious or charitable organizations can benefit from HRSDC exemption. This category does not include people coming to Canada to preach or teach doctrine.

The hiring organizations must not be for profit and, if charitable, must seek to relieve poverty or benefit community institutions. Applicants will be considered eligible for HRSDC exemption if they are not remunerated, the organization sending them is not remunerated and their functions go beyond the definition of work that would require a work permit. Charitable and religious workers are not volunteers as their duties are performed on a full-time basis.


National Confirmation Letter


HRSDC recognizes that there is currently a shortage of qualified workers in certain sectors of the Canadian economy. As a result HRSDC has provided national confirmation letters for all foreign workers who have job offers in certain fields. National confirmation letters have been issued on behalf of seasonal agricultural workers, and certain Information Technology workers, among others, as their hiring is considered to be of significant benefit to Canada. These foreign workers do not require HRSDC confirmation.


  Click here to learn about the HRSDC Confirmation Process

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