There are generally two types of religious workers who seek entry to Canada to work. The first are clergy (which includes Buddhist monks, Sikh granthis, rabbis, priests, preachers, pastors, etc.) whose employment in Canada will consist mainly of preaching doctrine, presiding at religious functions, or providing spiritual counselling.  Section 186(l) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPR“) provides that such people may work in Canada without a work permit.  IRPR r. 186(l) states:

186. A foreign national may work in Canada without a work permit

(l) as a person who is responsible for assisting a congregation or group in the achievement of its spiritual goals and whose main duties are to preach doctrine, perform functions related to gatherings of the congregation or group or provide spiritual counselling;

Generally, applicants applying to work in Canada without a work permit under IRPR r. 186(l) need to demonstrate that they have a genuine offer of employment from the religious denomination that seeks to employ them, that the organization employing them can provide for their care and support, and that they are able to minister to a congregation under the auspices of that congregation’s denomination.

To demonstrate this, applicants should provide the following documents, where applicable:

  • Certificate of Incorporation of the employer;
  • Proof of registration as a charity or non-profit;
  • Statement from the religious organization showing:
    • the date and place of founding of the religious organization;
    • length of time in continuous operation in the province or territory of destination;
    • description of the structure of the organization;
    • copies of relevant corporate and society documents;
    • financial statements;
    • copy of residential lease if a residence is not supplied to the foreign national;

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