Unlike in the United States, foreign nationals in Canada are typically not permitted to seek work permits within the country, except under the limited circumstances described in Section 199 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (SOR/2002-227). However, on August 24, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a temporary public policy (the Policy), which will allow certain visitors to Canada to seek work permits without the need to leave the country. The Policy took effect immediately.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary residents who remained in Canada were encouraged to maintain valid legal status. With air travel limited around the world, some visitors to Canada were unable to leave, while others were forced to change their status to visitor because their work permit was expiring and they were not eligible to apply a new work permit at that time. The Policy is intended to address these situations.
In order to be eligible under the Policy, foreign nationals must satisfy each of the following requirements:
- They must have held valid status in Canada as a visitor on August 24, 2020 (if they leave Canada after this date and then re-enter, they will lose their eligibility under the Policy).
- They must continue to remain in Canada lawfully (implied status should qualify but, if they have fallen out of status, they will need to obtain restoration of status before they can apply for their work permit).
- They must have a job offer with a Canadian employer.
- They must submit an application for an employer-specific work permit that is supported by either a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or an LMIA-exempt offer of employment, no later than March 31, 2021.
- They must meet all other standard admissibility criteria.
Once the inland work permit application has been approved, it will be mailed to the Applicant’s address in Canada.
The Policy also allows foreign nationals who satisfy the above criteria and who held a valid Canadian work permit within the preceding 12 months to seek permission to work for their new employer while the application is pending. In order to request an interim work authorization, applicants are required to complete the IRCC Web Form after their work permit application has been submitted.
When a foreign national completes the “Your Enquiry” section, he or she must copy the following text into the message field:
Priority Code VISIT2WORK2020: I am requesting consideration under the Temporary Public Policy to Exempt Certain Visitors in Canada from Immigration Requirements during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic and ask that the applicable exemptions be granted until a decision is made on my work permit application or it is withdrawn.
My previous work permit number [U#########] expired on [Date].
I have submitted my application for a work permit online. OR I have submitted my application on paper and the postal/courier tracking number is NUMBER.
I intend to work for [employer NAME] / [occupation] as specified in the aforementioned work permit application.
I understand that providing false, misleading or incorrect information is a violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and may result in enforcement measures against me.
Applicants must then wait until IRCC emails them before they can begin working for the new employer. This may take up to 30 business days (6 weeks).
The above process for obtaining an interim work authorization is very similar to the process used by inland work permit applicants who are seeking employment in a new job or with a new employer.
Please note that the information provided in this article does not constitute legal or professional advice or a legal opinion of any kind. If you require any assistance regarding specific legal issues concerning Canadian work permit applications or other immigration law matters, please contact Henry Chang in our Canada-US Business Immigration group.