Your guide to securing a work visa as a Veterinarian in Canada

It is no secret that vets are in high demand in Canada, and with lucrative salaries ranging from $100,000 to $150,000 or up to $350,000 for veterinary specialists, coupled with the breath-taking scenery and quality lifestyle, it is no surprise that Canada is a top destination for aspiring veterinary professionals. However, before you can embark on your Canadian adventure, there are crucial steps to take, including securing the necessary visas and licenses.



To practice as a vet in Canada, you must be licensed by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) or a provincial regulatory authority. This usually involves passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE). (This does not apply to Diplomates)


Finding employment:

You must secure a job offer in a veterinary clinic/referral hospital. This can be challenging without a Canadian license, so it is crucial to verify with your employer if you can work as an assistant or in a different capacity while obtaining licensure. Global Talent Partners have partnered with a number of hospitals that can offer you support, and we can guide you through this process.


Here is everything you need to know about obtaining the right visa to work as a veterinarian in Canada:

Understanding the visa process


Before packing your bags, it is essential to understand the visa options available to veterinarians looking to work in Canada. Depending on your circumstances and preferences, you may consider one of the following visa routes:


  1. Permanent Residency (PR)

    Considered the best route for long-term stays, PR allows you to live and work in Canada indefinitely. To qualify, you must meet certain eligibility criteria and commit to residing in Canada for at least two years out of every five.


  1. Temporary work visa:

If you plan to work in Canada for a limited period, a temporary work visa is your best option. This visa allows you to work for a specific employer and typically requires a job offer from a Canadian employer.


  1. TN Visa:

If you are a citizen of the USA or Mexico, the TN visa might be a viable option for you. This visa is available under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and allows USA and Mexican citizens to work in certain professional occupations in Canada, including veterinary medicine. The process is relatively straightforward, requiring a job offer from a Canadian employer and proof of your qualifications.


  1. International Experience Canada (IEC):

This plan gives youth the opportunity to travel and work in Canada for up to 2 years. The IEC program is designed for young adults (usually 18-35) to work and travel in Canada. It offers three categories:


Working holiday: Allows you to work in any job to fund your travels.

Young professionals: Provides a job offer for professional work that aligns with your career.

International co-op: For internships and co-op placements.

This is the most common route people opt for when first going to Canada (providing they qualify on age) as it is an easy to obtain Visa and gives you chance to experience Canada before deciding if you want to go through the longer-term Visa processes.


  1. Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA):

    If you are not eligible for a TN visa, you might need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This process begins with your prospective Canadian employer, who must demonstrate the need to hire a foreign worker. This involves securing a job offer, advertising the position to ensure no Canadian can fill it, and by submitting an application to the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). If a positive LMIA is issued, you can apply for a work permit, providing the LMIA approval, job offer, qualifications, and potentially passing a medical exam and providing biometrics. The entire process can take several weeks to months. Ensure you meet provincial licensing requirements to practice veterinary medicine in Canada.


Steps to obtain your veterinary license and visa


  1. Determine your eligibility:  Start by assessing your eligibility for Canadian immigration. Online assessments through visa agents can provide valuable insights into the most suitable visa options for your situation.


  1. Accreditation of qualifications: To practice as a veterinarian in Canada, you will need to have your qualifications accredited. Membership in organizations like the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) may meet Canadian standards, but you will need to undergo additional assessments. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association oversees registration and accreditation, requiring candidates to obtain a certificate of qualifications from the National Examining Board and pass the NAVLE (North American Veterinary Licensing Examination).


  1. Secure a job offer: This step is where we would come in. As a leading veterinary recruitment company, we have established relationships with veterinary clinics and hospitals across Canada. By choosing to work with us, you will gain access to a broader range of job opportunities that may not be advertised elsewhere, significantly enhancing your chances of finding the perfect fit for your career aspirations. A solid job offer is not just beneficial for your career but also crucial for securing your visa.


  1. Apply for your visa: There are several visa programs available for skilled workers, including the express entry system, Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), Rural and Northern Immigration Program, and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot. The express entry system is often the fastest route, prioritizing candidates based on a points system that considers factors such as age, education, language skills, and job offers.


Conclusion: Planning for success


Emigrating to Canada as a veterinarian offers exciting opportunities, but careful planning is essential to ensure a smooth transition. Consider factors such as exam dates, visa processing times (typically 6-12 months), and potential job offers when planning your move. Employers in Canada often offer support throughout the relocation process, including financial assistance and attractive relocation packages.


By following these steps and leveraging support from resources that Global Talent Partners can offer you, you can navigate the visa process with confidence and embark on a fulfilling career in veterinary medicine in the beautiful landscapes of Canada. Your dream of working and living in Canada as a veterinarian is within reach—start planning your journey today.


If you’re looking for help finding a veterinarian job, please do not hesitate to call us on +1 (984) 3898440 or you can email us at [email protected] or please browse all our veterinarian jobs in Canada.