On May 12, 2020 Immigration Refugees Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued a new temporary public policy to reduce processing times and enable temporary foreign workers (TFW) with authorization to work in Canada (through a valid work permit or authorization to work without a permit) and are required to obtain a new employer-specific work permit before commencing a new job, begin working in the new job while their work permit application is pending. The policy also includes an exemption from providing biometrics in support of the work permit application if the local Service Canada office serving the area where the applicant lives is temporarily closed and is not collecting biometrics due to COVID-19.

Under existing rules, in order to change jobs a TFW must wait for a new work permit to be issued before commencing new employment. With current processing times for work permits being up to 90 days, many workers leave Canada if they unable to find alternate employment; however, since COVID-19, many workers have been unable to leave due to international travel restrictions or the reduction in flights available. Currently, many employers who provide critical goods and services to Canadians, such as agriculture, agri-food and health care sectors have ongoing labour needs are faced with urgent needs for additional employees as there are not enough Canadian workers to fill the jobs.

With the new policy, a TFW who is already in Canada (therefore, not subject to any travel restrictions) and has secured a new job offer and has an approved labour market test, may receive an approval within 10 days or less. In addition, they may start working in their new job while their work permit application is being processed. The temporary public policy is aimed at Canada’s goal to support the economy and protect the health and safety of Canadians during the COVID-19 outbreak. Canada’s labour market has been significantly affected by COVID-19 and there is a lack of lack of Canadian workers available to fill job vacancies in critical sectors such as agriculture, food processing and health care which has the potential to harm Canada’s food security and health-care service capacity.

To be eligible under this policy, workers must:

    1. be in Canada with valid status;
    2. have an employer-specific work permit or have been working under a work permit exemption; and,
    3. have submitted an application for a new work permit with a valid job offer under either the TFW Program or the International Mobility Program (IMP)

Employers must have, or obtain, a valid positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that names the worker in a position on the LMIA and notify Service Canada. If the position is an employer-specific, LMIA-exempt situation, the employer needs to submit an offer of employment through the IMP Employer Portal.

For foreign nationals who are in implied status (work permit has expired but have a pending extension), or, hold a valid employer specific work permit and need to change jobs, they are authorized to move to a new occupation or employer while their work permit application is pending. This is especially useful for workers who have been laid off due to COVID-19.

If you are currently on a temporary work permit and have questions, feel free to contact us.