Do I Need a Job Offer to Get a Work Permit?

(Below is a transcription of this video)

Hi, this is Michael Niren, Immigration Lawyer and founder of We were asked this common question, “Do I need a job offer in order to get a work permit?” Now, I’ve had discussions about this before online and I am going to try my best to clarify and outline the circumstances that are applicable in this case, because in some cases you don’t actually need a job offer to get a work permit. But let me just outline the situations, the most common situation where you in fact do need a job offer.

Applying for a Work Visa to Canada or United States

In most cases if you’re applying for a work visa to Canada or to United States, you need a job offer first. You need a company who is willing to commit to you, to sponsor you and offer you a job. And that’s the first step. Then after that if the company is willing, their forms have to be filled out and an application has to be submitted to the government to get you a work permit and usually it’s a two step process where the company first has to get approved for the job offer to the foreign national and then step two is that the applicant (the foreigner) has to then apply for the work permit.

Instances Where you Don’t Need a Job Offer to get a Work Permit 

Now, there’re some exceptions to that, for example under NAFTA where you could apply at the port of entry without necessarily going through that two step process. But, in both cases a job offer is the first thing. However, having said that, there are certain circumstances where a job offer, at least a formal job offer, is not necessarily required. For example, if you’re a businessperson and you wish to start your own business you could potentially apply for a work visa on that basis. In the United States we call that an E-2 visa, in Canada it’s a different type of visa. But essentially there are circumstances where if you’re interested in investing in your own business and starting a new business you can actually get a work visa without having a job offer from a separate company.

Open Work Permits 

In addition, if you are a spouse of a work permit holder you could potentially apply for what we call an open work permit, which means that you don’t need a job offer from a company. You could as a spouse get a work visa because your spouse has a former work visa. We call it an open work visa. Now, there are restrictions to that, not all visas are allowed for that. For example currently the H1B visa you can’t really get as a spouse a work visa although there’s talk to change that and I hope that comes through, but there’re other circumstances where you can.

Business Expansion

Thirdly, let’s say you wish to expand your business from your home country into United States or Canada, we call that an inter-company transfer. That’s a circumstance where you could not necessarily get a formal job offer, or you don’t need a formal job offer from a company, but rather you are expanding and growing your business into Canada and the United States and on that basis apply for a visa. So there are circumstances where you don’t need a job offer in order to get a work permit. But every case is different and in most cases you’re going to have to really explore what your options are and do your homework and preferably consult with an immigration professional before you make such an application. So this hopefully has cleared up some misconceptions that people have that, “Oh, if I don’t have a job offer I can’t get a work permit.” Yes, in many cases that is true, but not in all cases.

So hopefully this has given you some insight and if you liked the video I’d appreciate if you can click like and feel free to visit our website at

Are you Interested in Applying for Work Permits in Canada or the United States?

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

  • harprit singh

    i have applied two time student visa but i got refusal for both attempts . Now a days i am doing a job .sir, i want to know that is their any chance that i can get visa on work permit .

    • Muga Rajbhandari

      Hello Harprit. A study visa is one of the most difficult to obtain because the reviewing officer needs to make 100% certain that you will return home after your studies are complete. Many people who attempt to apply on their own, face the same problem as you. You should seek professional assistance. I am going to suggest that you contact us to make an appointment to talk with one of our immigration professionals who will be able to plan the best strategy for you. You can book an appointment by calling us at 1-855-886-8472 or online at
      Regards, Muga

  • Taufik evendi

    Hi Michael,

    My name is Taufik from Indonesia. I currently live with my wife (a permanent resident) here in Calgary on a visitor visa. My wife can not sponsor me because she does not work yet. My wife and I were wondering if I could apply for an open work permit in Canada.

    Best Regard,


    • Vahe Mirzoyan

      Thank you for your inquiry Taufik. I am really glad that you contacted us.

      In order to give you the most accurate answer I would need to familiarize myself with your situation in more detail. In order to do so please Taufik, complete this form for me


  • Mira Freiwat

    Hello Belinda,

    Thank you for your inquiry. This appears as though it is a UK Immigration Matter, and we only specialize in Canadian and US Immigration. I would try to contact a UK Immigration Lawyer to assist you with this issue. MF

  • Mira Freiwat

    Hello Rey,

    Thank you for your post. As the video and information on this page advise, the first step in trying to work in the US is to first find an employer. Once you have a job offer for full time work from a US employer, you can then apply for a Work Permit. There are various Visas that applicants can apply for, but it is all specific to the type of work you are looking to do. MF

  • Rey valdez

    I’m asking how I can work to California USA my Current residents here in Canada alberta as a TFW.please let me know if I have chance to work to USA California .thanks

  • Belinda

    Dear Sir / Mam

    A Pleasant Evening we just want to ask to your good office regarding the working permit . iam direct hire by one of the hotel in uk the wedgewood hotel here is the complete adress The Wedgewood Hotel 49-51 Leinster Square, Bayswater London, W2 4PU United Kingdom. they give the job order contract letter and visa application form to fillied up and the working permit documents to filled up also . its written to there email that as the employee, would be responsible to pay for the processing of your Residence Work Permit Papers, which is the right of any employee from outside the UK to be responsible of according to the Law of the United Kingdom. we just want to ask if this is the law of united kingdom interm of hiring the manpower outsides the uk .

    Hoping for your sooner response.

    Best Regards,

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