Do I need a work permit to work in Canada as a refugee? Yes. If you are a refugee claimant, you need a work permit and a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada.

Before you can apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN) – which allows you to legally work, pay taxes, and use government services, you must first apply for a work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). If you are approved for a work permit, then you can apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN). Not all refugee claimants who apply for a work permit receive one. You have to prove that you need to work to support yourself or else you would need to get social assistance (welfare).

Remember: As a refugee claimant, you do not need to pay a fee to apply for a work permit or a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

What is the first step?

It’s a good idea to visit your settlement counsellor or your nearest settlement agency. They will be able to help you with your questions and concerns and also help you to fill out your forms – they can sometimes be confusing! To find a settlement agency in your area, go to Services Near Me.

The steps to apply for you work permit are:

  • Download and complete the application form [PDF].
  • Read the guide [PDF], for more help and information.  
  • Collect the documents [PDF] you need (never send original copies of your documents unless directly specified. You should hold on to all of your original documents in a safe place). 
    • As a refugee claimant, you will need to show proof that your Personal Information Form has been submitted to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) or a copy of your completed form which was signed and stamped by the IRB.
  • Send your application to: 

Citizenship and Immigration - Work Permit
CPC-Vegreville 6212 - 55th Avenue, Unit 202
Vegreville, AB
T9C 1X6  

  • Wait for a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada about your application.

After you have received your work permit, apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN) right away. Then you can start your job hunt!

Check out these related articles: How do I get a SIN Card? and I’m Looking for a Job. What Should I Do?