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Reduced processing times announced for temporary foreign workers

IRCC reduced work permit processing times from 10 weeks to 10 days to help recently unemployed temporary foreign workers start new jobs.

May 12, 2020  By Fruit and Vegetable

The Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a new, temporary policy that will drastically reduce the time it takes for a temporary foreign worker to start a new job. Effective immediately, the ministry reduced the work permit processing times from 10 weeks to 10 days.

While this policy is in place, a worker who is already in Canada and has secured a new job offer, typically backed by a labour market test, can get approval to start working in their new job, even while their work permit application is being fully processed. This will cut what can often take 10 weeks or more, down to 10 days or less.

Many temporary workers with employer-specific work permits lost their jobs this spring. While some have left Canada, others are unable to leave due to international travel restrictions or the reduction in flights available.

At the same time, many employers in sectors that have ongoing labour needs and who provide critical goods and services to Canadians, such as agriculture, agri-food and health care, find themselves with urgent needs for additional employees.

Under the previous existing rules, to change jobs workers needed to apply and wait for a new work permit to be issued before starting to work at their new job. With the new announcement, temporary foreign workers can start working at their new job while their work permit application is being fully processed.

To be eligible, according to the IRCC, workers must:

  • be in Canada with valid status,
  • have an employer-specific work permit or have been working under a work permit exemption
  • 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.

The work permit applicant must then submit a request to IRCC. The request will be reviewed within 10 days, and if approved, authorization for the worker to start working in their new job will be sent to them by email.

There is no change to the role of the employer in the process for hiring foreign workers. An employer needs to have, or obtain, a valid positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada, name the worker in a position on the LMIA, and notify Service Canada. For an employer-specific, LMIA-exempt situation, the employer needs to submit an offer of employment through the International Mobility Program Employer Portal.

“Immigrants, temporary foreign workers and international students are making considerable contributions to Canada’s response to the unprecedented challenge that COVID-19 poses. We know and value their efforts and sacrifices to keep Canadians healthy and ensure the delivery of critical goods and services. The new policy we are announcing will allow Canadian businesses to recruit the workers they need and help unemployed workers contribute to the Canadian economy during this pandemic,” said Marco Mendicino, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, in a released statement.

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