Can Work Permit Holders Buy Houses in Canada?

Can Work Permit Holders Buy Houses in Canada
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Can I buy a house in Canada on work permit?

Canada’s red-hot housing market has left many potential homebuyers priced out. In response, the federal government enacted a two-year ban prohibiting most foreigners from purchasing residential property, effective January 1, 2023. But the devil is in the details, and many on temporary work permits are wondering if they can still buy a home. Let’s break it down.

Key Takeaways

  • A federal law bans most foreigners from buying homes in Canada from 2023-2024.
  • Work permit holders can qualify for exemptions to buy one property under certain conditions.
  • Applicants need 183+ days left on work authorization and 3+ years of full-time work.
  • Vacant land and property for development are now exempted from the ban.
  • Corporations with <10% foreign control can also buy residential property.

At first glance, the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act seemed to slam the door on home ownership for temporary residents in Canada.

But after an outcry from businesses trying to attract talent, the government backpedaled and introduced new exemptions making it possible but tricky for some work permit holders to buy real estate.

Let’s break down exactly what the law does, who can still buy property, and what criteria you must meet to get a piece of the Canadian dream as a temporary resident.

The Basics: What the Foreign Buyer Ban Does

Enacted in June 2022, the law prohibits non-Canadians from buying residential property in Canada between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2024.

The ban applies to:

  • Foreign individuals
  • Foreign corporations
  • Foreign entities

It covers:

There are fines up to $10,000 for breaking the law. And courts can force the sale of a prohibited property purchase.

The goal was to cool inflated housing costs driven by foreign real estate speculation. Especially in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver.

Not a Total Prohibition: Exemptions to the Ban

The foreign buyer ban sets a strict general rule. But regulations also carved out key exemptions, including:

Exemption Description
Canadian spouses Non-Canadians can buy if their Canadian spouse holds title
International organizations Foreign missions and consulates can buy property
Temporary residents Work permit holders can buy under certain conditions (see below)
Recreational property Vacation homes, cottages, and recreational land are exempt
Rural property Homes outside metropolitan areas are exempt
Corporate ownership Corps with <10% foreign control can buy residential property
Property development Non-Canadians can buy to build housing
Vacant land The ban no longer applies to vacant residential or mixed-use land

Those exceptions provide some wiggle room for foreign buyers. But most hope lies with the temporary resident exemption.

Temporary Foreign Workers: Can You Buy a Home?

Many businesses rely on temporary foreign workers to fill labor shortages. To avoid turning off the taps of foreign talent, the government created a path for some work permit holders to buy property.

But the criteria are strict:

Study Permit Holders

To buy you must:

  • Be enrolled full-time at a Canadian school
  • Have been in Canada 244+ days for the last 5 years
  • Have filed taxes in Canada for 5 years
  • Buy a property under $500,000
  • Only buy one property

Work Permit Holders

To buy you must:

  • Have a valid work permit
  • Have worked full-time in Canada for 3 of the last 4 years
  • Have filed taxes in Canada for 3 of the last 4 years
  • Only buy one property

In both cases, you need to keep renewing your permit to keep owning the home.

And if you let your status lapse, you may have to sell the property. So staying compliant with your visa is key.

The work experience rules aim to weed out speculative buyers who parachute in just to scoop up real estate.

But for long-term temporary residents putting down roots in Canada, home ownership is still possible with careful planning.

Other Notable Exemptions and Changes

Beyond temporary workers, other groups also saw the foreign buyer ban relaxed:

Vacant land no longer prohibited: The ban initially applied to vacant land zoned residential or mixed-use. But that provision was rolled back. Non-Canadians can now purchase vacant land to build homes.

Property development allowed: Foreign individuals and entities can now buy residential property if they plan to improve or develop it. This helps boost housing supply.

More corporate ownership permitted: Privately held Canadian corporations with less than 10% foreign control can buy residential property. The threshold was originally set at 3% but was raised.

These changes show the government’s willingness to fine tune the ban to avoid unintended consequences.

Looking Ahead: Options After the Ban Sunsets

The foreign buyer prohibition lasts until the end of 2024. Once it lapses, work permit holders will regain broader rights to purchase Canadian real estate.

Until then, carefully review the criteria to see if you still qualify for an exemption. Programs like the Quebec Investor Program also offer a pathway to permanent residence and no restrictions on buying property.

For most, patience and persistence are key. The ban isn’t permanent. And with the right immigration status, owning a slice of the Canadian dream can become reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can work permit holders buy houses in Canada?

A: Yes, work permit holders are allowed to buy residential properties in Canada.

Q: Are work permit holders considered temporary residents?

A: Yes, work permit holders are considered temporary residents in Canada.

Q: Can work permit holders purchase a home in Canada?

A: Yes, work permit holders are eligible to purchase a home in Canada.

Q: Can work permit holders buy residential properties in Canada?

A: Yes, work permit holders are allowed to buy residential properties in Canada.

Q: Are there any restrictions for work permit holders to purchase a home in Canada?

A: No, there are no specific restrictions for work permit holders to purchase a home in Canada. However, they must comply with the laws and regulations of Canada.

Q: Can work permit holders buy properties in Canada if they are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents?

A: Yes, work permit holders who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents can buy properties in Canada.

Q: Can work permit holders purchase more than one residential property in Canada?

A: Work permit holders are generally allowed to purchase only one residential property in Canada. However, there may be specific rules and regulations in certain provinces, such as Ontario.

Q: Are there any restrictions on buying properties in Canada for non-Canadian citizens?

A: No, there are no specific restrictions on buying properties in Canada for non-Canadian citizens. However, they must comply with the laws and regulations of Canada.

Q: Can work permit holders buy a home with a Canadian spouse or common-law partner?

A: Yes, work permit holders can buy a home in Canada with a Canadian spouse or common-law partner.

Q: Can work permit holders buy properties in Canada while studying or working in the country?

A: Yes, work permit holders who are studying or working in Canada are allowed to buy properties in the country.

Q: Can work permit holders buy houses in Canada?

A: Yes, work permit holders are eligible to buy houses in Canada.

Q: What is the significance of home ownership for newcomers to Canada?

A: Home ownership allows newcomers to put down roots in Canada and establish a sense of belonging in their new country.

Q: Who is considered a work permit holder or foreign worker?

A: Foreign workers or work permit holders are people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, but have been authorized to work in Canada by obtaining a valid work permit or work authorization.

Q: Are there any restrictions on non-Canadian citizens or permanent residents from acquiring property in Canada?

A: Historically, there have been restrictions on non-Canadian citizens or permanent residents from acquiring non-recreational property, especially if it is zoned for residential use. However, the government of Canada is making important amendments to these laws to allow newcomers to put down roots and contribute to the Canadian economy through home ownership and businesses.

Q: What are the tax implications for work permit holders purchasing a house in Canada?

A: Work permit holders purchasing a house in Canada are subject to the same taxation rules as Canadian citizens or permanent residents. It is important to consult with a tax professional to understand the specific tax implications based on your personal circumstances.

Q: How long do work permit holders need to have lived in Canada to be eligible to buy a house?

A: There is no specific duration of time a work permit holder needs to have lived in Canada in order to be eligible to buy a condo. However, it is important to note that some lenders may take into consideration the length of time remaining on the work permit when assessing the mortgage application.

Q: Can work permit holders buy properties outside of major cities like Vancouver and Toronto?

A: Work permit holders can buy properties in any location in Canada, including homes that are outside of major cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

Q: Are there any limitations on the type or value of property that work permit holders can purchase?

A: There are generally no limitations on the type or value of property that work permit holders can purchase. However, it is important to consider your financial situation and ensure that you can afford the mortgage payments and associated costs of homeownership.

Q: Can work permit holders apply for mortgage financing from Canadian banks?

A: Yes, work permit holders can apply for mortgage financing from Canadian banks, subject to the bank’s lending criteria and the applicant’s ability to meet the requirements for borrowing.

What Are the Differences in Housing Options for Students in Canada and the US?

Student housing options vary significantly between Canada and the US. In Canada, on-campus student housing options like dormitories and apartments are common, providing convenience and a vibrant campus experience. Off-campus options also exist, ranging from shared apartments to purpose-built student housing complexes. In the US, on-campus housing is prevalent but may be more limited in availability. Many American students opt for off-campus housing, such as apartments or renting rooms in shared houses, which offers more independence and a broader choice of neighborhoods.

Q: Can work permit holders buy houses in Canada for investment purposes?

A: Yes, work permit holders can buy houses in Canada for investment purposes. However, it is important to consult with a financial advisor or real estate professional to understand the implications and potential returns on investment.

Conclusion

  • A federal law bans most foreigners from buying homes in Canada from 2023-2024.
  • Work permit holders can qualify for exemptions to buy one property under certain conditions.
  • Applicants need 183+ days left on work authorization and 3+ years of full-time work.
  • Vacant land and property for development are now exempted from the ban.
  • Corporations with <10% foreign control can also buy residential property.

Foreign investors and foreign nationals who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents can purchase a house in Canada. The government of Canada has implemented certain regulations to ensure that the housing supply in Canadian cities is not dominated by foreign commercial enterprises and people who do not have roots in the country.

The Home Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations allow people who are authorized to work in Canada to also acquire non-recreational properties. The year in which the purchase was made and the taxation years preceding it are important factors to consider, as the Minister of Housing and Diversity has set certain limitations on home ownership and businesses controlled by non-Canadians. 

These limitations aim to promote housing and diversity and inclusion in the real estate market. The amendments to these regulations will allow newcomers to create jobs and build homes by adding to the housing supply in residentially-zoned areas. This is a positive step towards integrating foreign investors and temporary residents into the Canadian society and economy, as it will provide them with opportunities to establish roots and contribute to the growth of the country. 

Sources:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/government-housing-ease-restrictions-non-canadians-1.6793247
https://www.scotiabank.com/ca/en/personal/mortgages/mortgage-programs/startright-for-temporary-residents.html


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