Immigration Issues Reminder of Four Year Rule for Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada

by Ray Clancy on April 10, 2015

The first overseas workers who arrived in Canada as part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Programme four years ago are being reminded that in most cases their visa will be coming to an end.

The four year rule limits the amount of time someone with this visa can work in Canada and most cannot work in the country again for four more years unless there is an exception or they plan to become a permanent resident.

canadaFLAGWith exceptions in place, the workers most affected by the four year rule will be those who require a Labour Market Impact Assessment and work in occupations at the NOC B, C or D level in Employment and Social Development Canada’s National Occupational Classification.

‘The goal of this rule is to encourage qualified foreign workers and their employers to use appropriate pathways to permanent residence instead of using temporary permits to extend a worker’s stay in Canada indefinitely,’ said a spokesman for the immigration department.

‘It is also important that temporary foreign workers who are not transitioning to permanent residence do not remain in Canada up to the point that they lose their connection to their home country,’ he explained.

The spokesman also pointed out that the four year rule is taken into consideration each time a processing officer determines the expiration date of a work permit before issuing it. For instance, if a worker has worked in Canada for three years, an officer will only approve an extension of that work permit for one additional year.

‘Workers agree in their application that they are coming to Canada to work temporarily. They are expected to abide by the conditions of their work permit, including ending their employment and leaving the country when their work permit expires, unless they have another legal status in Canada,’ the spokesman added.

The only work done in Canada that does not count towards the four year maximum is work done while studying in Canada on a full-time basis but, as already mentioned, there are exceptions to the four year rule that allow some types of foreign nationals to work in Canada beyond the limit.

For example, a processing officer can approve a work permit application to allow foreign workers in certain situations to work more than four years in Canada, assuming all other criteria have been met.

These could be NOC O and A workers, including spouses, common law partners of these skilled temporary foreign workers, or all Labour Market Impact Assessment exempt categories but excluding spouses, common law partners of NOC B workers and also included are seasonal agricultural workers.

Permanent resident applicants who have received a positive selection decision or approval in principle and provincial nominees applying for an employer specific work permit may also be exempt.

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