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Can an American cosmetologist work in Canada?

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Question:
Hello Guidance Counselor,

I am going through school to become a cosmetologist in America and have a dream of living in Canada; is there any chance I can get a work visa or does my profession make it impossible?

Thank you,
Taryn

Submitted via email

Answer:
Thanks for writing, Taryn! First of all you might want to read my post on cosmetology instruction in Canada, because it will help you get a picture of what the cosmetology requirements are like in that country. Writing it made me feel like we should raise our standards, since Canadian hairdressers train for at least 2,000 hours as an apprentice before they are eligible for a license. But once they have passed the exam and earned a Red Seal, hairstylists and barbers can easily move from province to province without re-testing. The United States should take a page out of Canada’s book!

If you are seeking employment in Canada, your first source of research should be Human Resources and Social Development Canada. This organization provides labor market opinions, which determine whether a foreign employee is needed to fill a position for which a native Canadian or permanent resident is not available. I am not sure this particularly applies to cosmetologists, since the trades are not considered specialized work, but the HRSDC is a good resource to begin educating yourself on your career move.

Your best chances of getting a work visa or temporary work permit are through a potential employer. If you already have a job offer from a Canadian salon or company in the hairstyling industry (I hear the L’Oréal Paris offices in Montréal are lovely!), your work visa will be approved much faster and with less red tape than if you attempt to enter the country on a visitor’s visa and find a job.
It’s important to recognize that you will need both a work permit and a temporary resident visa. As a resident of the United States, you can easily enter and exit Canada but if you’d like to stay longer than a few weeks or months you will need a temporary resident visa. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has all the information and application forms you will need. If you are married, your spouse and children will need to file for visas as well.

Finally, the Foreign Credentials Referral Office is the place to see about reciprocity for your American cosmetology license. Start gathering performance reviews and letters of recommendation, as well as any special certificates or awards that you have earned as a cosmetologist, because each applicant is closely evaluated. All applicants seeking reciprocity must show their competency a combination of written exams, academic transcripts, interviews and examples of work experience. Don’t panic just yet! You may need to complete more hours in a salon apprenticeship or demonstrate your skills on a model to prove yourself, but if you are a skilled stylist your work will be prove itself.

I hope I have given you enough information to get you started making your Canadian dream come true. Best of luck!

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