Public policy on exemptions to work permit conditions when changing employment: COVID-19 program delivery

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

A temporary public policy has been issued on the exemption from certain requirements when a temporary worker is changing employment. This public policy comes into effect on May 12, 2020, and remains in effect until it is revoked by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

Policy objectives

  1. to allow temporary workers already in Canada to more quickly begin work in advance of a final decision on their work permit application, provided that they
    1. are changing jobs or employers, and
    2. have secured a job offer under the terms of either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program
  2. to allow for the finalization of the aforementioned work permit application so as to better ensure workers are protected under the applicable employer compliance regulations

Accordingly, measures are set out to enable temporary workers in Canada with authorization to work in Canada (that is, a valid work permit or authorization to work without a permit) who are required to obtain a new employer-specific work permit before commencing a new job to begin working in a new job while their work permit application is pending. The measures include an exemption from providing biometrics in support of the work permit application if the Service Canada office serving the area where the applicant lives is temporarily closed and is not collecting biometrics due to the pandemic.

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Target populations

Individuals expected to benefit from these measures include foreign nationals who

  1. have implied status, meaning they are authorized to work while their work permit application is pending, but are bound to the conditions imposed on their expired work permit, such that they cannot move to a new occupation or employer while on implied status [R186(u)]
  2. continue to hold a valid work permit that limits them to working for a named employer, but need to transition to a different occupation or employer for reasons that may include having been laid off due to COVID-19 impacts
  3. are work permit exempt [R186(b) to (x)], but require a work permit to work in a new occupation or for a new employer
    1. Business visitors [R186(a)] and foreign nationals who are work permit exempt under the Global Skills Strategy are not eligible for this public policy.

Eligibility requirements

The foreign national

  1. is in Canada with valid temporary resident status (including implied status);
  2. held a valid work permit or was authorized to work without a work permit under paragraphs 186(b) to (x) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) when their application for a new work permit or work permit renewal in Canada was submitted;
  3. has submitted a new work permit application or a work permit renewal application in Canada for an employer-specific work permit, for which a decision has not yet been made;
  4. intends to work for a new employer and/or occupation as specified by the job offer included in their work permit application described in (iii);
  5. has applied for the public policy exemption using the electronic means identified by the department for that purpose; and
  6. has requested that the exemption be applicable until a decision is made on their work permit application.

Application contents

The foreign national must submit their application for an employer-specific work permit from inside Canada [IMM 5710]. This application may be online or on paper and may have been made prior to the implementation of the public policy.

Officers will see one of the following messages from the applicant in the IRCC Web form. This will flag that the request is to be considered under this public policy.

Example of template provided in public instructions

Message for work permit holders changing jobs or employers

Priority Code PPCHANGEWORK2020: I am requesting consideration under the Temporary Public Policy to Exempt Foreign Nationals in Canada from Certain Requirements when Changing Employment During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic and ask that the applicable exemptions be granted until a decision is made on my work permit application or it is withdrawn.

I attest that I hold/held a work permit valid until [DATE] for employer [NAME] / in occupation [NOC CODE] and I have received new job offer for [new employer NAME] / [new occupation NOC CODE].

I submitted my application for a work permit online. OR I submitted my application on paper and the postal/courier tracking number is NUMBER.

I intend to work for [new employer NAME] / [new occupation NOC CODE] as specified in the aforementioned work permit.

I understand that providing false, misleading or incorrect information is a violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and may result in enforcement measures against me.

Message for work permit-exempt workers

Priority Code PPCHANGEWORK2020: I am requesting consideration under the Temporary Public Policy to Exempt Foreign Nationals in Canada from Certain Requirements when Changing Employment During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic and ask that the applicable exemptions be granted until a decision is made on my work permit application or it is withdrawn.

I attest that: I am/was authorized to work without a work permit for employer [NAME] / in occupation [NOC CODE] until [DATE] and I have received a new job offer for [new employer NAME] / [new occupation NOC CODE].

I submitted my application for a work permit online. OR I submitted my application on paper and the postal/courier tracking number is NUMBER.

I intend to work for [new employer NAME] / [new occupation NOC CODE] as specified in the aforementioned work permit.

I understand that providing false, misleading or incorrect information is a violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and may result in enforcement measures against me.

Processing

Step 1: Receipt of IRCC Web form

On receipt of the IRCC Web form, the Client Support Centre (CSC) will separate these requests and move them to a specific folder for the Central Network (CN) to access.

CSC may use the following key word to pull the public policy-specific requests: PPCHANGEWORK2020.

CSC agents will not be reviewing or responding to the incoming Web forms to ensure compliance with public policy. They will simply move the Web forms to the appropriate email folder for CN to assess.

Step 2: Assessment under the public policy

Officers should review the public policy consideration request to determine if both of the following apply:

  1. there is a request for assessment under the public policy
  2. the request has sufficient information to find the work permit application in the Global Case Management System (GCMS)

The following are the applicable procedures if

Request is not complete

The processing officer may send a rejection notice if the IRCC Web form does not include the following:

The rejection notice should use the following template. It is recommended that this simply be a reply to the incoming IRCC Web form request.

Important: If the officer is unable to find the new work permit application but can find the client in GCMS, a client note with the submission and the response should be added.

Request is complete

If the request is complete, the processing officer should review the documentation in the work permit application to determine if the application is complete.

Requester has not submitted a new employer-specific work permit application

If on review of the work permit application it is determined that the foreign national is not applying for a new employer-specific work permit, the request does not meet the eligibility requirements. The officer may choose not to process the application on a priority basis and may refuse the public policy request using the template for a Negative public policy decision.

Important: A case note should be added to GCMS on the work permit application with the request and response.

Step 3: Work permit application

The following are the applicable procedures if the

Work permit application is not complete

If the work permit application is incomplete, other than biometric enrolment, the processing officer will request the additional documentation and give the 90 days allowed during the pandemic period.

They will also provide either a positive or a negative public policy assessment decision as a reply to the IRCC Web form email and add a case note on their decision.

The following are the applicable procedures in the case of a

Positive public policy decision

If the request meets the eligibility requirements, the officer will send the following response:

As per the information provided in your request below, you have been deemed to meet the eligibility criteria under the Temporary Public Policy to Exempt Foreign Nationals in Canada from Certain Requirements when Changing Employment During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

Please print a copy of this email and attach it to your existing work permit or authorization to work as proof of authorization to work for your new employer or occupation until a determination is made on your current work permit application or it is withdrawn.

Please note that misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that causes an error in decision is a violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Negative public policy decision

If the request does not meet the eligibility requirements, the officer will send the following response to the IRCC Web form email. The processing officer should delete any requirement that doesn’t apply to the specific request.

I have assessed your request under the Temporary Public Policy to Exempt Foreign Nationals in Canada from Certain Requirements when Changing Employment During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

Your application has been refused as you do not meet the eligibility criteria for the public policy, in that

  • you do not have current temporary resident status in Canada, nor are you authorized to remain in Canada until a decision is made on your application (implied status)
  • you are not applying for an employer-specific work permit
  • you do not intend to change employers and/or occupations as identified by the job offer included in your work permit application
  • you are not eligible to apply from within Canada under paragraph 199(a) or 199(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
  • you have not requested that the public policy exemptions be applicable until a decision is made on your work permit application or it is withdrawn

Or, if applicable:

You hold an open work permit and therefore may change employers or occupations at any time until a decision on your employer-specific work permit application is made.

Work permit application is complete

If application is complete, the processing officer will finalize the work permit application and send the final decision (positive or negative) to the applicant. No further action on the public policy request is needed.

If the decision on the work permit is to refuse the application, the processing officer should indicate in the refusal letter that the public policy assessment is also refused because a decision has been made on their application.

In addition to the refusal reasons for the work permit, officers should enter the following under the “Other” refusal reason: Your request for consideration under the public policy is also refused as you do not meet the eligibility requirements.

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