I am a refugee claimant. Can I work?

As a refugee claimant, you need a work permit and a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada.

First apply for a work permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). If you are approved for a work permit, you can apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

As a refugee claimant, you do not need to pay a fee to apply for a work permit or a SIN.

Apply for a Work Permit

Not all refugee claimants who apply for a work permit get one. You must prove that you need to work to support yourself or you would have to get social assistance (welfare).

According to IRCC, if you are already getting social assistance, you should include proof of this when you submit your work permit application.

Also, you may need to have the results of a medical examination before you can get a work permit.

The steps to apply are:

  • Download and complete the application form [PDF].
  • Read the guide, for more help and information.
  • Collect the documents [PDF] you need.
  • Send your application to:
    Case Processing Centre in Edmonton
    Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada
    c/o Initial Work permits for asylum claimants, Station 888
    9700 Jasper Avenue NW, Suite 55
    Edmonton, AB T5J 4C3
  • Wait for a letter from IRCC about your application (see current processing times).

Important note: If you are from a Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) you are not eligible for a work permit until your claim has been approved or until over 180 days have passed since your claim was referred to the Refugee Protection Division and no decision has been made.

Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Get an application form online if you are applying from outside Canada or from your local Service Canada Centre if you are applying from inside Canada.

To find out more, read How do I get a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?

Settlement agencies can help you apply for a work permit or a SIN. To find a settlement agency in your area, go to Services Near Me.

For More Information

  • Social Insurance Number - Information about Social Insurance Number (SIN). From Service Canada.
  • Social Insurance Number Application Form - You can download the SIN application form from the Service Canada website.
  • Canada's Refugee System - Information from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada about how refugees come to Canada and how the system works.
  • IRCC Help Centre - A tool that helps answer frequently asked questions on immigration matters. It offers several ways of searching through the information available, including search by keyword. From Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
  • Refugee Rights in Ontario – Detailed information about how to make a refugee claim, what services are available to refugee claimants and where to find legal help.  From Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO).
Last updated: February 9, 2023 4000556