What is Kibbi+

A group of people holding flags with the words fisher law in Calgary.
September 19, 2023

Living and working in Canada: Immigration FAQs

In this article, Rowan Fisher, the founder of Fisher Law, answers the most frequently asked questions about immigration to Canada, LMIA jobs, work permits, workers' rights, and many more topics that can help you on your journey of entering the Canadian employment market.

How do I apply for a temporary work permit?

Canadian work permits are applied for online. There are different types of work permits. The forms and information you need changes depending on the type of work permit you are applying for and where you apply from. Sometimes there are special rules put in place, called 'policies,' that allow for certain people to apply in special ways or that will give certain jobs faster processing times. Be sure to check the most recent policies to see if you can apply from inside Canada or have other application choices. The policies change all the time, so check these close to when you are sending in your application.

For more details, click here.

What is the difference between a 'Closed' or 'Employer Specific' work permit and an 'Open Work Permit'?

Closed or Employer Specific Work Permits often have more rules on them than Open Work Permits. There are lists online of who can apply for each of these permits and who cannot. The government calls the rules on work permits' conditions.' Conditions can be things like who you can work for, where you can work, or how long you can work for. Most LMIA-based temporary foreign worker permits are Closed Work Permits. You must learn what conditions are on your work permit and follow them. Different work permits have different conditions. You and a friend might have applied from the same country and done the same job, but each of your conditions might be different.

For more details, click here.

What is this 'LMIA' thing everyone talks about?

This can be confusing because people talk about LMIAs in different ways. An LMIA is actually a Labour Market Impact Assessment. This is the government process that allows an employer to hire temporary workers from places other than Canada. The employer gets their LMIA, they are given an employer number from the government, and then the employer gives that number to an employee so they can apply for their work permit.

For more details, click here.

What is a 'NOC'? 

Every job has been given a number by the government. This number is part of the National Classification System for describing jobs, so people call these numbers' NOCs' (sounds like 'socks') or 'NOC codes.' The first number of a NOC is the general category the job is in. For example, NOC 65200 is for Food and Beverage Servers. The NOC tables online give example titles, main duties, employment requirements, and exclusions for the NOC you are looking up. It is important to get your NOC right for any immigration application, as it might allow or prevent you from applying to different immigration programs in the future.

For more details, click here.

What is a 'TEER'?

Every job has been given an NOC, and every NOC is put into one of six categories called TEERs. TEER stands for Training Education, Experience, and Responsibility. The government has ranked all jobs from '0' (high-level management jobs) to '5' (jobs that are generally short-term or require no education or experience). Different kinds of immigration programs are available to different TEERs. You must know what TEER you are to know what kind of immigration program you are able to apply to.

For more details, click here.

Are there any limits to who I can work for or where?

There are limits, or conditions, on some work permits. These might tell you things like who you can work for, the kind of job you are allowed to do, and your hours of work. Your work permit may be different from other people's. There are also different kinds of work permits. Just because your friend or family member's permit is one way does not mean your permit will be the same. You need to know what the conditions are for your own work permit. 

For more details, click here.

Can I bring my family to Canada?

High-wage and low-wage temporary foreign workers can bring their spouses, partners, and children if they fit into the program rules called 'eligibility requirements.' There are lots of rules about how you can bring family to Canada and who you can bring. Family members of workers in Canada can apply for open work permits, which means there are fewer rules for them about who they can work for and where they can work. Family members of workers can also come to Canada as visitors or students. 

For more details, click here.

What is the Global Skills Strategy? Who is eligible for faster processing?

The Global Skills Strategy is an employer-focused program to get high-skilled, high-wage workers. It is a special program, applied for from outside Canada, that gives faster processing times. It is for both TEER 0 & 1 workers who are exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and for workers whose LMIA employers fit into Category A or B of programming requirements. The partners and children of the worker can also apply for faster processing under this program for visitor visas, work permits, and study permits. 

For more details, click here.

What happens after I submit my application?

What you need to do after submitting your application depends on whether you have applied from inside or outside of Canada. You may need to give biometrics, do a medical examination, provide police certificates, or submit more information. You may be able to work while you wait for a decision on your application, depending on your situation.

For more details, click here.

Why is my study or work permit only valid for part of my study program or job contract?

Check your dates of expiry for every personal document you have and your Canadian permit expiry date, and put these into your calendars! You cannot stay in Canada past the expiry date of your passport or travel document, except in very special circumstances. Permits are generally only valid for the time your passport or travel document is valid. If your travel documents expire before the end of your study program or job contract, you will likely need to extend your permits and renew your documents to be sure you can stay in Canada. Apply for new travel documents well before their expiry dates and submit your new documents to the government as soon as you get them.

For more details, click here.

What are my rights as a temporary foreign worker in Canada?

People might tell you that you have no rights as a temporary foreign worker. They are wrong. You have legal rights in Canada. Employers must tell you about your rights, give you a written contract, pay you as they said they would, help you if you get sick or injured at work, and not abuse you in any way. Employers cannot take away your passport, refuse to pay you the salary owed, or physically, emotionally, or financially abuse you. They cannot touch you if you do not want them to touch you. They cannot make you do dangerous work your contract is not for, or make you work if you are sick or injured. They cannot make you pay back recruitment and other fees they paid to bring you to Canada. All of this is against the law. If this is happening to you, report them and get advice about how to leave your job. Employers cannot take away your immigration status; only the government has the power to do this. There is help available – see the next question.

For more details, click here.

What if I am being abused at work? If I leave my job, will I lose my immigration status?

If an employer is controlling you, scaring you, isolating you, or physically, sexually, financially, or mentally abusing you, you may be able to leave your job and apply for an Open Work Permit. This will give you immigration status in Canada for a short period to be able to find another job and apply for a new work permit. To apply for this Vulnerable Worker Open Work Permit, you must still be inside Canada and have a valid Employer Specific Work Permit. Your current work permit must not have expired, or you must have applied for an extension before it expired. If your work permit has expired and you did not extend it, you may be out of status and should seek advice as soon as possible to see what can be done about it.

For more details, click here.

How can I report abuse by my employer?

Employers are not allowed to abuse temporary foreign workers in Canada. There is a good system of reporting abusive employers. Employers cannot threaten temporary workers, make you stay at a worksite or inside your home, keep your passport or personal documents, or make you do work you did not agree to. You can report these bad employers to Service Canada online, by phone 1 866 602 9448, in person, or by mail. The agents at Service Canada speak over 200 languages. You can even just call them to ask them if what is going on with your employer is okay or not. You don't have to give your name or your employer's name to be able to call them. They are here to help. Anyone can call this line to report abuse or just to get information, including workers who are not being abused, supervisors, friends and family members, or someone from another agency or helpful organization.

For more details, click here.

Can an employer fire a temporary foreign worker?

When an employer ends a contract with an employee for a reason, we call that 'firing' someone. Employers can fire temporary foreign workers in the same way they can fire permanent residents or citizens; however, they must give reasons why they are doing this. Labour laws apply to employers no matter who they are firing. There are rules in each province in Canada about how employers can fire workers and what they can fire workers for. Sometimes, employers have to give an employee a certain amount of time to leave, or money, to be able to end their contract. It is important that you know your rights and responsibilities as a worker in Canada so you can understand how firing works and what procedures need to be followed.

For more details, click here.

What if I am being abused at home by my partner, and I need to leave or end my relationship? Am I going to lose my immigration status?

Whether someone is going to lose their immigration status if they leave a relationship for any reason depends on what status they have. For example, if you are a permanent resident, your status would not end if you left your relationship, and it would have no impact on your ability to get citizenship. However, if you are a temporary resident with a spousal sponsorship application in process, you may not be able to get permanent residence through that application anymore because the relationship it is based on is over. If you are out of status, then that makes things a bit more complicated, as status must now be applied for as soon as possible. The Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) for Victims of Family Violence is a way for temporary residents who are being abused at home to leave relationships and stay in status until they find another way to stay in Canada. Being safe and getting out of dangerous situations is important, so please see below for helpful resources. Every situation is different, so please get advice on your individual immigration situation in these circumstances. 

For more details, click here.

How can I get help if I am being abused at home?

Being abused physically or mentally by anyone in your family or inside your home is illegal in Canada. You can call the police for help in emergency situations by calling 911 on any phone. There are also many free community shelters and housing, health and psychological services, and many other resources available in most communities in Canada that will help you if you contact them. You do not need to stay in an abusive house or with an abusive person to keep your immigration status. There is a special permit available for temporary residents to ensure they do not lose their status by leaving a person or a house called the Temporary Resident Permit for Victims of Family Violence which gives status in Canada to someone while they fix any immigration problems.

For more details, click here.

What can I do if my immigration application is refused?

There may be several options available for you, depending on what the reason for the refusal was. Some of the most common reasons for application refusals are not submitting requested documents, filling out the forms wrong, or not being eligible for the program being applied for. If you have an application refusal and you want to try again, be sure you understand why it was refused and fix that problem before you apply again. Sometimes, applications are refused due to inadmissibility. These kinds of refusals are more serious and may include concerns the government has about criminal records, removals from other countries, financial issues, fraud, health, safety and security, and providing inaccurate information. In these cases, you will want to get good advice as to the next steps and see if these issues can be overcome through legal means.

For more details, click here.

What if I lose my immigration status? Can I get it back?

Getting your status back, as opposed to getting a new or different status, is called 'Restoration' by IRCC. Restoration of temporary status is only available under certain circumstances. You have to restore your status to the same status you had before. To change your status to a different status, such as from a study permit to a work permit, you must make a different application. You must apply within 90 days of losing your status and stay in Canada until a decision is made. There are rules about the reasons for Restoration, including overstaying your permit, doing work different from what was permitted, or not meeting a variety of requirements.

For more details, click here.

Can I change my immigration status?

There are multiple ways to change your immigration status. You might apply to change the conditions on your permit or extend your stay, apply to become a permanent resident through family sponsorship, or economic immigration streams. There are often temporary policies that allow for special changes in status, such as a recent one that allows visitors to Canada to apply for work permits from inside Canada. Every immigration program in Canada has different eligibility criteria, so you must read carefully and get reliable advice if needed.

If you have any questions or require legal advice, get in touch with Rowan by visiting Fisher Law.