Difference between Canada Work Permit & Permanent Residence

Author: Parminder Singh BA, LLB (Canada)

Why a Permanent Resident Visa is better than a Work Visa

When one is faced with a choice of living in Canada permanently and leaving a nice job in his home country, the choice ought to be based on complete and accurate information received from authorized sources. This article provides information on benefits, procedures and processing times of a work visa and a permanent resident visa.

A work permit holder does not have several rights enjoyed by permanent residents such as free education up to grade 12, free universal health care, unconditional Canada pension plan, unemployment insurance and social security.



Work permit allows an applicant to stay in Canada temporarily for 2 to 4 year. Permanent residence allows an applicant to stay in Canada permanently.


Work permit holder cannot do a job other than the job for which he received work permit. A PR status holder can do any job in Canada.


A work permit holder and his family pay 2.5 times more school and college fees as international students. Whereas a Permanent resident and his family get free education up to grade 12 and thereafter the domestic college or university fee is 2.5 times less than the international fee.


Permanent residents and their family enjoy free medical health care for whole life whether it’s a hospitalization costing $100,000 or it’s a common cough costing $30 on a doctor’s visit. This benefit is not available to work permit holders.


Whether a permanent resident has worked in government sector or in a private sector, whether he has worked or not worked his entire life, he is entitled to Canada pension after the age of 65 in addition to his pension from work. The Canada pension is roughly between $1000 and $1500 for a single person. This benefit is not available to work permit holder.


The government also offers Unemployment Insurance (UI) for 6 months which is equal to 60% of the last pay check of those who cannot find work.

After the exhaustion of UI benefits, a person is entitled to seek social security which is equal to roughly $800 per person which continues until that person finds a job. These benefits are not available to work permit holders.


In order to get a work permit, an applicant must have a job offer from a Canadian employer which is approved by Canadian Government’s Human resource department. It is not easy to get a job offer from Canada while an applicant is sitting in India. Moreover, it is not possible to get the job offer approved by the government of Canada, if your employer is unable to demonstrate that there is a shortage of skilled workers in that area.

In order to obtain Permanent Resident status, an applicant requires no job offer, if his skill category falls in the list of “occupations in demand”. Every year, the Canadian Immigration department issues the list of occupations in demand under Federal Skilled Worker program and under Federal Skilled Trade Program.The occupations under Federal skilled trades program requires a job offer but the occupations under Federal Skilled Worker Program do not require a job offer. These lists of occupations can be found on our webpage Canada Priority Skills.

This means that the process of obtaining a work permit is more expensive and more difficult than the process of getting a Permanent resident status and the benefits of a work permit are far more less than permanent residence.

Processing time for work permit is normally 6 months whereas the processing time for Permanent resident application is generally a year.


Even if you do not have a job in Canada, it is wise to immigrate to Canada for several reasons:

  1. Even if you don’t have a job in Canada, PR status does not stop you from coming back to India.
  2. Canada’s per capita income level is $39,000 compared to India’s $3700 as per the latest statistics.
  3. The minimum wage is so high in Canada that an applicant is better off working in any area as a short term alternative rather than staying in India with a sound but lowly paid job. The minimum wage for any work in Canada is $10/hour. A person can work in any field for $10/hour while looking for a job in his own field.
  4. The unemployment rate in Canada is lower than India. This means that it will always be easier to find a job in Canada compared to India. However the question is this: will it be wise to leave a sound job and career in India in order to acquire permanent residence in Canada? The answer to this question is explored in another article: why immigrate to Canada.This article informs about the benefits of living in one of the top 10 countries in the world.
  5. Even if a work permit holder gets an approved job in Canada, the work permit itself is temporary.  Permanent resident status is permanent.