COVID-19 Policy Extended Allowing Canada Visitors To Apply For Work Permits Without Leaving

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Canada immigration news: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says visitors to Canada will still be able to get work permits until Feb. 28 next year without having to leave the country under a COVID-19-related policy which is being extended yet another time.


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Under the policy, a foreign national can apply for an employer-specific work permit provided he or she:

  • is in Canada with a valid temporary resident status as a visitor, including any status extensions under subsection 183(5) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), that is, a  maintained status, when he or she applies;
  • has applied using the Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker, form IMM 5710;
  • has remained in Canada with status since his or her application, and;
  • has submitted the application on or before Feb. 28, 2023.

Foreign Nationals With Visitor Status Can Get Interim Work Permits

Those who previously held work permits and converted to visitor status can still get an interim authorization to work provided they meet those criteria and also:

  • have a valid temporary resident status when they apply and have remained in Canada with that status;
  • had a valid work permit within the last 12 months prior to their application for a work permit;
  • intend to work for the employer and occupation specified in the LMIA or LMIA-exempt offer of employment included in their work permit application;
  • have applied to IRCC for the interim authorization to work using the IRCC Web form, and;
  • have requested that the authorization to work be applicable until a decision is made on their work permit application.

The policy is designed to help people in a number of different situations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

1) Visitors Unable To Leave

This includes foreign workers who had to change their status to visitor because their work permit was expiring and didn’t have a job offer to be able to apply for a new work permit.

2) Employers Facing Labour and Skills Shortages

The policy is open to any visitor who meets the criteria, including Super Visa holders, business visitors and those who entered via a Global Skills Strategy work permit exemption.

Canada welcomed 405,330 new immigrants in 2021 despite the COVID-19 global pandemic and issued 103,985 work permits under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

That’s 23.5 per cent more work permits for temporary foreign workers last year than the 84,180 in 2020. Last year’s level of work permits issued to temporary workers was also almost 6.1 per cent higher than the 98,040 such work permits issued in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic.

Ottawa Beefed Up Protections For Temporary Workers Last Year

During the height of the pandemic, Canada beefed up the protections and benefits it provides temporary workers. 

“The government of Canada takes the safety and dignity of foreign workers very seriously,” said then-Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino in announcing those measures late last year.

“Everyone deserves a work environment where they are safe and their rights are respected. These amendments will help us further improve worker protection and strengthen our ability to ensure employers follow the rules governing both the International Mobility Program and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.”

Service Canada now operates a live agent tip line to assist temporary foreign workers in reporting abuse, offering services in English, French, Spanish and more than 200 other languages. Callers who reach out for help through the tip line during hours of operation and do not speak either English or French can speak with a live Service Canada agent and a qualified interpreter.

Ottawa also cracked down on employers unfairly exploiting temporary workers by upping its inspections and allowing those who conduct these inspections to get documents from third parties, like banks and payroll companies that provide services to these employers.

Officials who assess applications from new employers for temporary foreign workers were also given the authority to put a pause on Labour Market Impact Assessments if they suspected something was amiss.

“The health and safety of temporary foreign workers continues to be a key priority for the government of Canada,” said Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough.

“While we have made progress, there continues to be gaps. We know that temporary foreign workers need better information about their rights, and better health and safety protections. Workers also need to be protected from reprisal if they come forward with a complaint, and bad actors need to be prevented from participating in the program.” 

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