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Working in Vancouver

Yearning for time as an expat in the True North? Working in Vancouver is often the number one choice for expats interested in experiencing a Canadian workplace. After all, the city is one of the country’s main economic pillars. Get a glimpse of what to expect of Vancouver in our guide!
Welcome to British Columbia's main economic driving force.

At a Glance:

  • Vancouver is one of the most popular expat destinations, so the job market is very competitive.
  • You will need to acquire a work permit through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
  • Expats are covered for health insurance and pensions by the Worker’s Compensation Plan as well as the Employment Insurance Program.
  • Your quality of education and work experience will be assessed to see whether they meet Canadian standards for the work permit application. 


Next to the Greater Toronto Area, Vancouver remains one of the prime choices for expats interested in Canada. As the city is one of the major economic centers of the country, expats working in Vancouver can gather experience in various economic fields.

Vancouver’s Prospering Economy

With the nation’s largest port and the western end of the transcontinental highway, Vancouver is a major gateway for pan-Pacific trade. Furthermore, many companies have their national and international headquarters in Vancouver, particularly those active in the mining and forestry sectors. Biotechnology and IT are increasingly becoming important as well. There are currently 38,000 technology professionals in Vancouver. A flourishing tourism sector and a vibrant film industry — ten percent of Hollywood’s movies are actually filmed here — contribute to the great reputation Vancouver enjoys across the board.

The Job Hunt Has Started

Those who are considering working in Vancouver know only too well: finding a job there is not always easy. The reason is simple — Vancouver remains among the most popular expat destinations worldwide. To add to that, Canada already has a high number of skilled home graduates. The market for lucrative graduate jobs is therefore highly competitive, even though Vancouver is expected to create 23,000 new jobs between 2017 and 2018.

Nevertheless, with a degree and work experience in the right field, expats interested in working in Vancouver still have a chance of finding a job there. Specialized skills in areas such as IT, (bio)engineering and certain business sectors are particularly sought-after. Meanwhile, Vancouver’s tech industry is becoming a key economic engine for British Columbia and Canada as a whole.

How to Obtain Your Work Permit

Your first step towards working in Vancouver consists in acquiring a work permit under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The prerequisite is straightforward: you need an employment contract in order to be able to start working in Vancouver. The permit is only issued for the particular position you signed a contract for. So you need to reapply for a new work permit in case your first foray into British Columbia’s economy does not work out and you’d like to change jobs.

The employer you’ll be working for has to apply for and obtain a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment. This assessment, issued by Service Canada, includes details on the availability of qualified job seekers for your specific position and whether or not the local economy can profit from you working in Vancouver.

If you plan on going to Vancouver as part of an intra-company transfer, the process is sped up considerably, as the aforementioned Labor Market Impact Assessment is no longer necessary. This is possible for management or executive positions and highly specialized staff.

Service Canada ensures that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs, making the application process somewhat more restrictive both for expats-to-be as well as employers. Please keep this in mind when considering your chances of finding employment in Vancouver.

Please remember to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) right after you arrive in Canada. The SIN is necessary for both legal employment in Canada and for social security benefits. To find out more about the application process, please visit the Service Canada site.

Safe and Sound: Social Security

Employees in Vancouver are covered by a fairly comprehensive social security system. British Columbia is one of the Canadian provinces with a mandatory Worker’s Compensation plan, to which employers are bound by law to contribute. In case any harm or work-related incident may befall you while you are working in Vancouver, you are entitled to certain compensations. For further details, please see the WorkBC’s info page on this topic.

Apart from the Workers Compensation program, expats are also covered by the Employment Insurance program, to which both you and your employer have to contribute. The EI covers you in case you lose your job through no fault of your own and have satisfied a number of other requirements.

Canada has social security agreements with various countries. This makes sure that expats working in Vancouver do not have to pay for social security services in two countries at the same time. Additionally, the social security contributions you have paid during your time working in Vancouver will be recognized once you repatriate back home.


 We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Andrey Vasilyev

"When moving to a huge city such as Vancouver, InterNations made it easy for me to find fellow expats and the network that I needed."

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"InterNations make networking in such a large city so much easier with their events and extensive information."

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