Many foreign workers apply for work permits based on positive LMIAs (Labour Market Impact Assessment). The LMIA must be 'used' to apply for a work permit abroad before it expires. an LMIA is typically valid for 6 months.
The LMIA will also provide details on the 'duration of employment'. A Visa Officer is instructed to issue the work permit (if the application is approved) to encompass the full 'duration of employment' contemplated by the LMIA. If an officer approves a work permit application, a "letter of introduction" is provided, which the applicant presents to a POE (port of entry) officer, who in turn issues the actual work permit.
A couple of questions arise from these principles:
- if some time elapses (weeks or months) between the LMIA being approved and the work permit being approved, how long will the work permit be issued for?
- if further time passes between the visa office approving the work permit, and the foreign national arriving at the POE to be issued that work permit, how long must the POE officer issue the work permit for?
The answers are provided for by IRCC here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/work/opinion/duration.asp
In essence, Visa Officers approve work permits for the full duration approved by the LMIA, starting from the date of approval.
POE officers are similarly instructed to issue WPs for for full duration authorised by the LMIA, from the date the foreign national arrives at the POE.
The Example provided by IRCC to illustrate this is:
The applicant received an LMIA with a Valid to date of December 31, 2015, for a Duration of employment of 24 months. The work permit application must be received on or before December 31, 2015. If the work permit application is received on August 1, 2015, and the visa officer makes the final decision to approve on August 31, 2015, the final duration of the work permit is August 30, 2017 (24 months after the date of approval). Since several months have passed since the approval of the LMIA, the visa officer may enter the remark to issue the work permit for 24 months from the date of entry.
At ports of entry
The applicant arrives at a port of entry on December 30, 2015, and has a passport valid for three years. The border services officer issues the work permit from the date of entry in Canada to December 29, 2017 (the 24 months provided in the Duration field).
IRCC instructions also specify to POE officers that WPs for longer rather than shorter duration should be issued:
Note: Providing the requirements are met, officers should issue work permits for a longer rather than a shorter duration. Where there is no reason to limit duration, officers should issue the work permit for the complete expected duration of the employment. It is in both the Department’s and the applicant’s best interests to minimize the number of extensions to be processed.