New regulatory amendments facilitate work permit applications

A review of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act Regulations

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has published a series of amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act regulations, initially published in June 2002. The amendments facilitate the processing of work permit applications for some applicants and clarify the language in some sections of the regulations where their interpretation was somewhat confusing.

The highlights of the amendments affecting work permits are as follows:

Applications at port of entry for more HRSDC confirmation holders

People requiring a labour market opinion (confirmation) from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) were previously not allowed to apply for work permits at a port of entry, after obtaining the HRSDC confirmation, unless they were citizens of the United States or residents of St. Pierre and Miquelon.

The amendments now allow visa exempt foreign nationals to apply for a work permit at a port of entry if they hold a confirmation from HRSDC.

This change was made to facilitate the entry of visa exempt HRSDC-confirmed workers who need to start work in Canada quickly.

This will not apply to seasonal agricultural workers and participants in the live-in caregiver program who must apply at a Canadian visa post abroad. All applicants have the option of applying for their work permits at a mission abroad if they prefer to do so.

Application for work permit after entry facilitated for some workers

Amendments to the regulations eliminated the three-month waiting period required to apply for a work permit for temporary workers who are already working in Canada without a permit.

This change affects workers such as crew members or athletes who enter Canada as workers not requiring work permits (work permit exempt under the regulations).

These workers can now apply within Canada if they subsequently need to join the Canadian labour market in another capacity, that is, in an occupation which is not exempt from the work permit requirement under the regulations.

The regulations allow foreign nationals with valid visitor status to apply for a work permit from within Canada if they intend to work in a foreign mission in Canada and have a written statement of non-objection from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). Under the current regulations they would have to apply for their work permit outside Canada.

Definition of “economic effect” modified

The word "economic" was removed from before "effect" in the section of the regulations dealing with work permits to clarify that the opinion provided by HRSDC when considering a labour confirmation is limited to the effect of the employment offered to the foreign worker on the labour market. HRSDC does not provide an opinion on the broader economic effect.

This change does not reflect a change in the process, but clarifies its intent.

Other requirements

A contradiction was identified in the regulations concerning work permit issuance. One particular section of the regulations allowed temporary resident permit (TRP) holders (who are by definition inadmissible) to apply for a work permit from within Canada, while another section of the same regulations prevents these persons from obtaining a work permit because of their inadmissibility.

This contradiction has now been corrected by removing the requirement to establish that the foreign national is not inadmissible in order to issue a work permit. For applicants other than TRP holders, program integrity is protected by inadmissibility provisions found in the act.

Sergio R. Karas is a lawyer with Karas & Associates in Toronto and certified specialist in citizenship and immigration law by the Law Society of Upper Canada. He can be reached at (416) 506-1800 or [email protected].

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