Canada expedites process for temporary workers to start new jobs

The new policy will allow temporary workers to start working in 10 days instead of 10 weeks after applying for work permit

A new government policy is allowing temporary foreign workers, who already have a job offer in Canada, to start working while their application is being processed.

The government says this will drastically reduce the time it takes for a temporary worker to start a new job from 10 weeks to 10 business days.

The temporary change is part of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) response to Canada’s labour market needs during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a media release. Many temporary foreign workers with employer-specific work permits lost their jobs this spring and are unable to leave Canada due to reduced flights or travel restrictions. At the same time, many employers in sectors such as agriculture, agri-food, and healthcare are facing labour shortages.

Under the existing rules, temporary foreign workers with employer-specific work permits need to apply for a new permit with the name of the new employer in order to work legally in Canada. They need to wait for the work permit to be issued before they can start working at their new job.

Now temporary workers who have a job offer lined up can submit a request to IRCC to have authorization to work. The request will be reviewed in 10 days, and if approved the worker will be notified by email. They can then start working at their new job.

There are three main eligibility criteria:

  • workers must be in Canada with valid status;
  • they must have an employer-specific work permit or have been working under a work permit exemption; and
  • they must have submitted an application for a new work permit with a valid job offer under either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, or the International Mobility Program.

There is no change to the role of the employer in the process for hiring foreign workers. Employers need to obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). They must name the worker in a position on the LMIA and notify Service Canada.

For employer-specific LMIA-exempt situations, employers need to submit an offer of employment through the International Mobility Program Employer Portal.

Steps to change employers

Temporary foreign workers must first apply for a new work permit from inside Canada. Most people must apply online, however if they can’t due to a disability or because there is a problem with the online application, it is possible to apply on paper.

After applying IRCC asks applicants to fill out the web form, which facilitates communication between applicants and the Canadian immigration department. More detailed information can be found on the government’s webpage. The process will be different depending on whether the worker is work permit-exempt or not.

Once this is done, IRCC will send an email confirming the applicant can start working for their new employer while they process the complete application.

The email will be sent in about 10 business days. It may take longer if the application was done on paper.

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