As I have already written, you must become a temporary worker before applying for permanent residence (refugees are a different case, you must come from a country in war such as Siria). So, after being laid off, I found an employer willing to run the work permit for me. Please note that I will share what I did and my experience at that time. The first thing you should know is I am taking advantage of NAFTA. NAFTA allows US and Mexican citizens to come to Canada as temporary foreign workers very easily. As for November 2016, because I am Mexican, this was the easiest and fastest way to stay longer in Canada but not the right path to become a permanent resident. In January 2017, if I am not wrong, the CIC changed some pointing rules and NAFTA workers could get 50 or 200 extra points which may or may not help you with the pool invitation, but that is another story. Let us back to the main subject.

This time I did not hire a migration consultant. I felt confident enough to do it by myself.

Getting ready the Paperwork for the Work Permit

First some basic rules:- filling out the form was not enough, I needed to back up all my claims with evidence. The idea was to make it easy for the agent, I organized my file in a way they would understand everything they were reading. I also had to check the forms, they change with time and if I applied with an old form I just wasted money and time.

In my particular case, I used two documents: IMM 5556 which is a checklist of minimal (but not enough) documentation you must provide and IMM 5710 which is the application to change conditions, extend my stay or remain in Canada as a worker. As the first step, I filled those two forms. I can say filling out the PDF form is quite easy, the only tricky thing is you must use Acrobat Reader 10 or better to fill it out (the form has some macros that create barcodes on the last page).

When filling out the form I needed the following information (could change):

  • UIC number, it can be found in your current permit
  • Current valid passport information
  • Dates of your first and last entry to Canada
  • Document number of your last status document
  • LMIA number or LMIA Except number, in my particular case it was an exception. My employer got it from the IRCC portal when submitting a job offer. Exception numbers start with an A followed by seven digits.
  • My work story for the last 10 years
  • My living addresses for the last 10 years

Remember I needed to back up any claim I made. So, some of the documentation I used:

  • An offer of Employment Letter is a letter using letterhead. This document must state your position, possible starting date, annual salary, responsibilities and contact information for the business.
  • Photocopies of my current passport and any page that backs up my first and last entry
  • Copy of my last work permit
  • Birth and Marriage certificate translated by a certified translator. I use translators from ATIO.
  • My last CELPIP language report
  • My resume
  • Letters from my past jobs stating I worked with them. This is just a letterhead giving details about the dates and positions I had.
  • My WES report
  • My University and Master's Title and transcripts. Two of them were in Spanish so a certified translation must be submitted as well.
  • Employer records like a print of the homepage of the employer, business number, legal name (which is usually very different than commercial ones), GST/HST Registry Search result
  • LMIA exception fee receipt, given by the employer

I did not provide original documents. I had luck and my file was returned to me, but some officers would not. It is up to them. So, it is smart to provide photocopies.

Going to the Border to Deliver the Work Permit Application

I do not remember at that time what entry point I went to. If I am not mistaken, it was St-Bernard-de-lacolle Highway 15. Remember I have already said in another post that not all the entry points have migration services. I had to look for them. The key here is I must get out of Canada and then get in. As I am Mexican without a US Visa, when I got to the border I told both officers (Canadian and the US) that I wanted to bounce back because I needed to go to migration. They will understand right away. In my case, I got a white paper of rejection from the US. The Canadian officer will need that paper to process. I need to come from outside the country.

My friend Jessica Thibault (who kindly drove me there) and I thought that we could do a return and get to the migration office without getting out of Canada. But when I got there, the officer told us she needed proof I was coming from outside of Canada; in my case, as I do not have a US visa, the white paper. So we did the line.

Be ready, it is a long line. We did like 3 hours including the time we were sitting waiting to be interviewed by the US officer. While her car was being reviewed, the officer asked me why I was trying to get into the US without a visa. After I explained I was needing the white paper because the Canadian officer was requesting it, it was all happiness.

When we returned, I gave the Canadian officer all the files including that paper. She started reading right away. It was like 3 p.m. And I must say, it was a good idea to go in daylight. It seems that officers are more friendly at that time. They simply stop asking, why are you coming at midnight.

So far, that time no questions were done.

Do Not Pay Electronically

This is a very common mistake. I bet others had as well, I did. When doing the paperwork, the checklist asks for the proof of payment. However, when arriving at the border, the officer told me that that payment could not be taken. I should apply for a refund (which I did and had it). So, I paid on-site. At that time it was 155 CAD. Payment can be made just after you get your answer.

Some Tips for the Work Permit Application at the Border

Well, I have done this for almost 4 years so at this moment I can tell you some little tips:

  • Your passport should not expire in the following six months, however, bring one that will not expire in the next two years. Canadian officers can give you a work permit of two or three years (depending on their criteria), but they can not give a work permit longer than the passport expiration date
  • If you get an interview, be ready with the basic questions: how did you meet your employer? What are you going to do? While you were unemployed how did you have an income? How did you meet? Be ready with the answers, I can not tell you too much about that, but just answer the question without giving more information than the one that was asked. Do not open the door for another doubt.
  • Communicate with your employer. If your employer can not go with you to the border, notify him/her to be ready in case a phone call takes place. The answers you give and he/she gives must match.
  • Make your social accounts match what your application says. Although this could be a joke, on my first visit to the border I got a question of why my LinkedIn profile was not showing what the form said (I had it with some privacy settings). So, it is a good idea to google yourself and fix that.

Good luck!