New COVID-19 Immigration Policy for Changing the Employment Status of Temporary Foreign Workers

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) recently released a new public policy. The new policy will allow temporary foreign workers (“TFW”) who are in Canada to change either their employer or listed job within approximately 10 days of submitting an application to change their work permit and make a request to fall under the public policy via the web form.

Upon receiving an approval-response email from IRCC’s web form, the TFW will be able to transition to the new role without waiting for the new work permit to first be issued. This policy will remain in effect until revoked by IRCC. This is a welcome announcement by IRCC and was introduced because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Who Can Access This Policy?

Foreign workers who:

  • are currently on implied status (their work permit had expired but they submitted a new work permit application before the expiry of the old work permit and they have not left Canada) and are bound by the conditions of the expired work permit;
  • currently hold a valid work permit, but the foreign national wants to change jobs or employer; or
  • are work permit exempt but want to move into a position that requires a work permit.

We note that TFWs who are in Canada as Business Visitors or foreign nationals who are work permit exempt under the global skills strategy 15 days or 30 work permit exemptions do not fall under this new policy. 

Eligibility Requirements

TFWs must meet the following requirements:

  • Be in Canada and have valid temporary resident status or implied status;
  • Have a valid work permit or be authorized to work without a work permit;
  • Submit a new work permit application, change of conditions or a work permit renewal for an employer specific work permit where no decision has yet been made;
  • Plan to work for a new employer and/or occupation;
  • Request the public policy exemption through the web form; and
  • Request that the public policy exemption be applied until a decision is made on their work permit application.

Overall Process

TFWs must first submit an application for a change in work permit conditions. Next, they are required to submit a Web Form, requesting the expedited change in status. If the request is approved, IRCC will email the TFW and let them know that their request has met the eligibility criteria under the public policy. The TFW can then attach the email with their work permit and proceed to work for the new employer or occupation. If the request is denied, an email from IRCC will be sent to the foreign national and they will be advised that they do not meet the requirements of the public policy. If the request is refused, the TFW may not change their employment. This new policy will assist employers to employ new foreign workers or allow for changes in roles of current foreign workers much more quickly than before. In the past, foreign workers who wanted to change roles or employers and held ‘closed’ employer-specific work permits were required to submit a change in work permit application and wait until the new work permit was issued, before they could start the new role; a time period of anywhere between 89-120+ days. This new public policy will allow TFWs to change jobs as soon as they receive confirming correspondence from IRCC’s web form, which will usually arrive in only 10 days.  

We will continue to update our clients with information as soon as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, other COVID-19 related questions, or would like assistance with developing and/or reviewing pandemic plans, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.

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