Canadian Immigration for Doctors

There are a number of options for foreign trained and Canadian trained doctors seeking to immigrate and work in Canada. However physicians face a number of relatively unique immigration obstacles.

Work Permit

International students who have graduated from a Canadian medical school may be eligible for a Post Graduation work permit (PGWP). A PGWP is an open work permit. Applicants must apply within 180 days of receiving written confirmation that they met the requirements of the academic program. The application can be submitted online or by mail. Visa exempt foreign nationals can also apply at a port of entry Applicants should ensure that they include both the $100 open work permit fee and the $155 work permit processing fee.

Applicants should be aware that the validity of their study permit ends 90 days after receiving notification that they met the requirements of their academic program, regardless of the expiry date on their study permit. Applicants should also be aware that once their studies have ended, they may not work in Canada, either on a full or part-time basis, until they have applied for a Post-Graduation Work Permit.

Applicants should include an immigration medical completed with an IRCC Panel Physician, as well as clearly mark on their work permit application form that they have completed and included an immigration medical, and that there should be no restrictions on their work permit. 

Foreign Medical Residents who hold a medical degree equivalent to that of a Canadian Medical Doctorate (M.D.) who are coming to Canada to complete a residency at a Canadian hospital or in a clinical setting as part of their medical training may be eligible for an LMIA exempt work permit. In order to be eligible Foreign Medical Residents will require an official letter of employment. The letter of offer should indicate, among other things, whether the physician must be licensed by the provincial or territorial regulatory body in order to undertake their residency or fellowship in that province or territory. 

Medical Fellowship Holders who hold a medical degree equivalent to that of a Canadian Medical Doctorate (M.D.), who are recognized medical specialists having  completed residency training, who are seeking to continue working or researching to pursue a specialization and to advance clinical or medical research, may be eligible for an LMIA exempt work permit.

Both Foreign Medical Residents and Medical Fellowship Holders will also require proof that the Canadian employer submitted an Offer of Employment (IMM 5802) through the IRCC Employer Portal, a receipt showing the employer paid the $230 Employer Compliance Fee, and the A# confirming the Offer was filed.

Most physicians will require a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in order to apply for a work permit. An LMIA is an employer driven application which requires the employer to prove to the Government of Canada that there are no qualified or available Canadians or permanent residents for the position. LMIAs for Physicians often require the assistance of an experienced immigration practitioner owing to the employment structure and the fee for service remuneration structure.

All doctors seeking to work in Canada will have to undergo an immigration medical examination with an IRCC authorized panel physician prior to applying for a work permit. Immigration medical examinations are only valid for twelve (12) months and need to be updated with each work permit renewal application.

All doctors seeking to work in Canada should consult with their prospective employer and the relevant provincial or territorial medical association as to the credential assessment and licensing requirements to practice in that province or territory. 

It should be noted that though Physician is a profession listed under NAFTA and the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, work permits in this category are limited to Physicians entering Canada to teach or do research. However, patient care that is incidental to teaching and/or research is permitted. Physicians are excluded under all other Free Trade Agreements.

Permanent Residence

Owing to the intricacies of the Canadian immigration system, their unique employment relationship under the publicly funded model, including the fee for service remuneration structure, medical practitioners are well advised to seek advice from an experienced immigration professional in advance of commencing  an application for permanent residence status in Canada. The lawyers of Capelle Kane are well versed in navigating the Canadian immigration system for physicians.

Licensing & Educational Equivalency

Applicants under Express Entry will need to complete an educational credential assessment (ECA) of their medical degree with the Medical Council of Canada. Applicants who, in addition to their medical degrees, also hold a Ph.D., should complete an educational credential assessment of their Ph.D. with one of the IRCC designated organizations

Doctors with job offers must check with their employer and provincial or territorial medical licensing authority for their specific licensing requirements. 

Below is an overview of some of the steps required for International Medical Graduates. Note that there are exemptions to some of the requirements. Please note that some doctors may be eligible to apply for a restricted license to practice depending on the nature of their position even if they do not meet all of the provincial or territorial College’s registration requirements. 

Physicians seeking to be fully licensed to practice medicine in a Canadian province or territory may achieve full licensure only if they:

  1. Have a medical degree from a medical school that, at the time the candidate completed the program, was listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools.
  2. Are a Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (MCC).
  3. Have completed a discipline-appropriate postgraduate training program and evaluation by a recognized authority.
  4. Have achieved certification from the College of Family Physicians of Canada or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or the Collège des Médecins du Québec.

Steps International Medical Graduates can take before arriving in Canada:

  1. Confirming that your medical degree is from a recognized medical school by searching the World Directory of Medical Schools
  2. Take an online self-assessment exam to test your readiness for the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE)
  3. Submit your credentials with the MCC Physician Credentials Repository 

Licensing by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC)

Doctors seeking to practice medicine in Canada must first be “licensed” by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC). The MCC grants a qualification called the Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada) to medical graduates who:

  1. Are exempt from the MCCEE.
  2. Have passed the MCC’s Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I and Part II (or an acceptable clinical assessment deemed comparable to the MCCQE PII).
  3. Have completed at least 12 months of acceptable postgraduate training or an acceptable equivalent.

Provincial Nominee Programs

Owing to a shortage of physicians, some provinces facilitate immigration and licensing for physicians through their provincial nominee programs. Currently both Nova Scotia and British Columbia offer such facilitation. More information about their respective programs can be found here:

Nova Scotia Physician Stream: 

British Columbia Healthcare Professional Stream:

Certification by a Province or Territory

“Licensing” by the MCC is not a licence to practice medicine in Canada, it is a precondition for applying for full licensure in a Canadian province or territory. In addition to “licensing” by the Medical Council of Canada, the practice of medicine in Canada is regulated by a provincial/territorial regulatory body or college that serves as the authority responsible for granting licenses to practice medicine. International medical graduates seeking licensure in Canada should contact each regulatory body directly, as registration and credential requirements, vary from province to province.

Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA)
British Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC)
Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (CPSM)
New Brunswick College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick (CPSNB)
Newfoundland & Labrador College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador (CPSNL)
Northwest Territories Professional Licensing, Government of the Northwest Territories
Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia (CPSNS)
Nunavut Health Professions, Government of Nunavut
Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO)
Prince Edward Island  College of Physicians and Surgeons of Prince Edward Island (CPSPEI)
Quebec Collège des Médecins du Québec (CMQ)
Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS)
Yukon Yukon Medical Council