Preference for Canadian qualifications always the norm

Jamaica To Canada

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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Dear Mr Brown:

I intend on migrating to Canada [but] I am wondering whether I can gain work experience on my visitor's visa in order to have a smooth transition when I finally land there. I would like your assistance with the process.

— TB

Dear TB:

Based on my observations, I believe that Canadian experience is the key to a smooth transition to Canada, other than having social and financial resources.

Canadian Experience

The study and work programme is a good strategy. For those who are successful under Express Entry without being an international student, I always suggest enrolling in a short programme in Canada upon arrival. When a prospective employer in Canada inquires about Canadian (education and/or work) experience, it should be regarded as a purposeful probe in which experience in Canada is considered to be more relevant.

One can have their qualifications assessed by World Education Services to determine the Canadian official equivalent of their diploma or degree. However, as a practical matter, unless a Canadian employer has visited Jamaica or has subjective knowledge or insight about the educational institutions in Jamaica, the preference for Canadian qualifications will always be the norm.

Unpaid experience

Another strategy is for new immigrants to work for free in order to gain Canadian work experience as a volunteer or unpaid internship. The aim is to demonstrate experience and obtain a domestic job reference.

However, it is a separate matter for visitors to Canada to seek unpaid work opportunities as a way to gain a foothold in the job market. There is a risk to their status in Canada, as there are employment and immigration law implications. Violating the terms of a visitor's visa can negatively impact a person's ability to remain in Canada.

Work permit

As a general rule, one needs a work permit to be employed in Canada. There are notable exceptions. However, one may apply for a work permit from inside Canada under certain circumstances, such as possessing a valid study or work permit, or possessing a temporary resident permit, or you are in Canada because you have already applied for permanent residence from inside Canada.

Normally, one applies for a work permit from the country of residence or citizenship or at a Canadian embassy or consulate. Canada has labour market protection by generally not allowing visitors to work. The visitor's visa is designed to allow people to enter Canada for the purposes of tourism, family, or other short stays generally up to six months.

Please visit JAMAICA2CANADA.COM for additional information on Canadian Permanent Residence programmes, including Express Entry, The Study & Work program, Visas or Appeals, etc.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM-a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to

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