On August 24, 2020, The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a temporary change to Canada’s work permit policy.

Workers who are here on a visitor status and have a legitimate job offer, can apply for employment-specific work permits without having to leave the country.

Prior to this policy change, a worker who was in Canada with visitor status, and received a letter of support to apply for work permit from a Provincial Nominee Program or their employer were granted a LMIA from Service Canada, they had to leave and apply for work permit from outside of Canada or flagpole. They were only allowed to return when their work permit was approved. Many workers and businesses that rely on these workers during Canada’s recovery from COVID-19 have been impacted because of this.

For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, foreign workers were encouraged to obtain valid legal status to remain employed in Canada. Since the COVID-19 has grounded many flights and made international travel difficult, some workers have had to change their status to a visitor status because their work permits were expiring and they didn’t have a current job offer to apply for.

With this new policy, foreign workers and employers can continue to work together without interruption and provide the goods and services that Canadians require during its recovery from COVID-19. “The measures introduced today will now allow visitors to apply for work permits without having to leave the country first. This exemption from the normal temporary work permit requirements is aimed at removing barriers to create a more agile workforce that leverages visitors with the skills and experience to accelerate our economic recovery,” said the Minister of Immigration.

Who is eligible under this new policy:

  • Individuals who have had a valid work permit in the past 12 months can start working for their new employer before their application has been approved.
  • Any type of visitor. This policy also includes: Super visa holders, business visitors, and those who have entered Canada through a “Global Skills Strategy” work permit exemption.
  • The worker in question must have:
    • Have a legitimate job offer supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or an LMIA-exempt offer of employment. The deadline for submission of this application is March 31, 2021.
    • Have valid visitor status in Canada on August 24, 2020, and stay in Canada.
    • Meet all of other admissibility criteria.

This fantastic new policy will benefit employers who are located far from the border and flag-poling was never an option for their workers. It will also benefit workers who are far away from their home country and at the moment it is impossible to travel.

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