Canada British Columbia Immigration Agreement 2015 – Foreign worker protection (Annex B, section 9.4)

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.

Foreign workers in British Columbia (B.C.) who face a real and substantial risk of abuse as a result of potential employer non-compliance with applicable federal laws (for example, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act [IRPA] and Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations [IRPR]) or provincial laws (for example, the Employment Standards Act of the B.C. Government) may be eligible to receive a work permit that is exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, per section 9.4 of Annex B of the Canada-British Columbia Immigration Agreement 2015 (the Agreement), provided the foreign worker meets all other requirements of the IRPR. Annex B of the Agreement is valid until April 7, 2020.

The objective of these instructions is to provide protection to foreign workers who are at risk as a result of potential employer non-compliance by regularizing their status in Canada and providing them with the authorization to seek other employment, when appropriate.

This measure is available to all foreign nationals in B.C. who hold an employer-specific work permit for an employer located in B.C. or who are authorized to work without a work permit, per the IRPA and IRPR.

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Definition of abuse

For the purposes of this process, “abuse” is defined within the meaning of section R196.2.

Abuse consists of any of the following:

  • (a) physical abuse, including assault and forcible confinement
  • (b) sexual abuse, including sexual contact without consent
  • (c) psychological abuse, including threats and intimidation
  • (d) financial abuse, including fraud and extortion

Identifying real and substantial risk

For the purposes of Annex B, only settlement service providers, as specified by the B.C. Government, can identify a foreign national who is at real and substantial risk of abuse by an employer in B.C.

For more information, see the List of authorized service providers.

The settlement service provider should provide a summary of the case for an LMIA-exempt work permit for foreign nationals identified as “at risk in B.C.”. In addition, in these circumstances, the foreign national has the option of reporting abuse and applying directly to the Vancouver Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office for an open work permit, without the assistance of a settlement service provider.

In some cases the settlement service provider will be the foreign national’s first point of contact, and the service provider should assist with referrals to the appropriate enforcement agencies.

In other cases, foreign nationals may go directly to enforcement agencies as an initial point of contact. The B.C. Government will instruct enforcement agencies to refer foreign nationals seeking assistance to a settlement service provider.

Examples of enforcement agencies include:

  • Human Rights Tribunal
  • Canada Border Service Agency
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • WorkSafeBC
  • Employment Standards Branch of the B.C. Government (Employment Standards Branch)

General criteria

Officers may consider issuing a work permit in the following situations:

Non-compliance with provincial laws – Officer has reason to suspect potential employer non-compliance with any provincial law, resulting in real and substantial risk of abuse of a foreign worker

Examples of employer non-compliance with a provincial law may include but are not limited to the following:

  • employer non-compliance with the Employment Standards Act by charging job placement and recruitment fees or by repeatedly not paying wages owed to the foreign worker
  • employer violation of the Occupation Health and Safety Regulations whereby the employer is failing to provide a safe work environment, which creates undue hazards to the health and safety of the foreign worker or fails to correct unsafe working conditions

Non-compliance with federal laws – Officer has reason to suspect potential employer non-compliance with a federal law, such as the IRPA or IRPR, resulting in real and substantial risk of abuse of a foreign worker

Examples of employer non-compliance with a federal law may include but are not limited to the following:

  • employer non-compliance with the obligation to “provide the foreign national with employment in the same occupation as that set out in the foreign national’s offer of employment and with wages and working conditions that are substantially the same as — but not less favourable than — those set out in that offer” [R209.2(1)(a)(iii)]
  • employer non-compliance whereby the employer has failed to comply with the conditions of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) or the International Mobility Program (IMP), such as failing to provide a workplace that is free of abuse, within the meaning of section R196.2, resulting in real and substantial risk to the foreign worker
  • employer non-compliance with the IRPA, such as trafficking in persons [A118(1)], which puts the foreign worker at real and substantial risk of abuse within the meaning of section R196.2

When work permits may be issued

Work permits may be issued by IRCC for any of the following purposes:

  • to assist a foreign worker who must leave the original place of employment to obtain an extension of temporary resident status, facilitating the search for a new position
  • to facilitate the participation of the foreign worker in the inspection or prosecution of an alleged employer or employment agency for non-compliance in Canada or otherwise assist authorities
  • for any other purpose the officer may judge relevant to facilitate the protection of the foreign worker who is at real and substantial risk as a result of potential employer non-compliance

B.C. foreign worker protection: points to consider

Evidence of real and substantial risk could include but is not limited to the following:

  • an official complaint filed by the foreign national to the appropriate enforcement agencies (for example, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the local police, WorkSafeBC, the Employment Standards Branch) regarding potential employer non-compliance with provincial or federal laws
  • an approved settlement service provider assisted the foreign worker with the summary of and supporting evidence for the allegations, such as the following:
    • a brief summary of the case
    • a copy of the official complaint form filed with the enforcement agencies (for example, a police or Canada Border Services Agency report, copy of the self-help kit process or official complaint completed by the foreign worker and submitted to the Employment Standards Branch)
    • an indication of which provincial and federal laws have not or appear to have not been complied with
    • additional documentation and evidence substantiating the complaint, as required
    • a description of the risk faced by the foreign worker
    • contact information for the foreign worker
    • supporting or additional material, such as a victim impact statement

Foreign nationals or settlement service providers may submit the summary of the case with any documents (detailed above) by mail or email to the Vancouver IRCC office.

Issuing work permits

Foreign nationals who have applied for a new work permit under Annex B of the Agreement are exempt from the requirement to obtain an LMIA, per paragraph R204(c), but are required to meet all other requirements under the IRPA and IRPR.

  • Open work permit

    The purpose of this work permit is to facilitate the transition of the foreign national to a new employer or to terminate their activities in Canada; therefore, the officer should consider issuing a work permit for a duration that would allow for this. Typically, approximately 180 days should allow the foreign national enough time to seek new employment and obtain a new employer-specific work permit and LMIA. Given the time-sensitive nature of the LMIA-exempt open work permits required for foreign workers at risk, officers are instructed to process work permit applications on an urgent basis.

    Duration: Typically, applicants will need approximately 180 days to find new employment and obtain a new employer-specific work permit.

    Code: LMIA exemption code T13

    Extensions: Extensions can be granted on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of an IRCC officer.

    Fees: The work permit processing fee and open work permit holder fee are required.

  • Employer-specific work permit

    Given the time-sensitive nature of the LMIA-exempt employer-specific work permits required for foreign workers at risk, officers are instructed to process work permit applications on an urgent basis.

    Duration: The duration of the new employer-specific work permit will be based on the duration of employment indicated in the offer of employment provided by the new employer.

    Code: LMIA exemption code T13

    Extensions: Refer to existing work permit renewal guidelines for information on extensions.

    Fees: The foreign national is required to pay all applicable fees with respect to the employer-specific work permit. The new employer is responsible for paying the compliance fee.

    Note: In cases where the foreign national has found another employer, and the employer has already obtained an LMIA, an employer-specific work permit may be issued by IRCC on an urgent basis.


Upon receipt of the case from the settlement service provider or directly from the foreign national, IRCC staff will arrange an in-person or telephone interview with the foreign worker. Arrangements for the interview can be made directly with the foreign worker or through the settlement service provider. In-person interviews are preferable, if logistically feasible for the foreign worker.

Officers may use their discretion to determine whether or not an interview is required.

Remarks in the Global Case Management System

IRCC officers must do all of the following:

  • Enter an information note in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) indicating “Canada-British Columbia foreign worker annex – Worker protection”
  • In cases where the foreign worker has an LMIA under the TFWP, notify the Employment and Social Development Canada tip line and the police, if not already done
  • In cases where the foreign worker is LMIA-exempt under the IMP, notify the Case Management Branch, Investigations and Exceptional Cases Division, to file a report of potential employer non-compliance and trigger an inspection by Service Canada or IRCC

Spouse or common-law partner and dependent children

A dependent spouse who is currently in Canada may be eligible to apply for an open work permit, under paragraph R204(c), if the principal foreign worker has been issued an open work permit that is valid for a period of 6 months. Spouses have their work permits issued under the same program and for the same duration as the principal applicant.

In the event that the dependent spouse is working for the same employer and is also found to be at real or substantial risk, the officer must add a note in GCMS, under the spouse’s unique client identifier, with that information for inspection purposes.

In the event that the immigration status of dependent children who are currently in Canada, accompanying the principal foreign worker, is expiring before the end of the open work permit, a new temporary resident visa or study permit may be issued for the same duration as the principal applicant’s.

List of authorized service providers
Community Service provider Address Phone
100 Mile House Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy Society

205-475 Birch Avenue
100 Mile House, BC  V0K 2E0

Abbotsford Abbotsford Community Services

2420 Montrose Avenue
Abbotsford, BC  V2S 3S9

604-859-7681, extension 272
Campbell River Multicultural and Immigrant Services Association of North Vancouver Island

A114-740 Robron Road
Campbell River, BC  V9W 6J7

250-830-0171 or
Chilliwack Chilliwack Community Services

45938 Wellington Avenue Chilliwack, BC  V2P 2C7

Courtenay North Island College

2300 Ryan Road
Courtenay, BC  V9N 8N6

Dawson Creek Dawson Creek Literacy Society

929 102 Avenue
Dawson Creek, BC  V1G 2B5

Duncan Cowichan Intercultural Society

321 St. Julian Street
Duncan, BC  V9L 3S5

Fort Nelson Fort Nelson Community Literacy Society

17-4903 51st Avenue West
Fort Nelson, BC  V0C 1R0

Fort St. James College of New Caledonia

179 Douglas Avenue
Fort St. James, BC  V0J 1P0

Fort St. John Fort St. John Literacy Society

10142 101 Avenue
Fort St. John, BC  V1J 4H7

Fort St. John S.U.C.C.E.S.S. – Fort St. John Service Centre

209-10142 101 Avenue
Fort St. John, BC  V1J 2B3

Hope Read Right Society

D-895 3 Avenue
Hope, BC  V0X 1L0

Invermere Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy

B-712 10th Street
Box 2619
Invermere, BC  V0A 1K0

Kamloops Kamloops-Cariboo Regional Immigrant Society

448 Tranquille Road
Kamloops, BC  V2B 3H2

Kelowna Kelowna Community Resources Society

620 Leon Avenue
Kelowna, BC  V1Y 9T2

250-763-8008, extension 132
Kelowna Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society

442 Leon Avenue
Kelowna, BC  V1Y 6J3

Keremeos Lower Similkameen Community Services Society

310 Veterans Avenue
Keremeos, BC  V0X 1N3

Kitimat Kitimat Child Development Centre

1515 Kingfisher Avenue
Kitimat, BC  V8C 1S5

250-632-3144, extension 216
Kitimat Kitimat Community Services Society

102-370 City Centre
Kitimat, BC  V8C 1T6

Langley Langley Community Services Society

5339 207 Street
Langley, BC  V3A 2E6

Mission Mission Community Services Society

33179 2nd Avenue
Mission, BC  V2V 1J9

Nanaimo Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society

101-319 Selby Street
Nanaimo, BC  V9R 2R4

250-753-6911, extension 101
North Vancouver Capilano University

2055 Purcell Way
North Vancouver, BC  V7J 3H5

North Vancouver North Shore Multicultural Society

207-123 East 15th Street
North Vancouver, BC  V7L 2P7

Penticton South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services

340 Ellis Street
Penticton, BC  V2A 4L7

Port Alberni Literacy Alberni Society

E-5100 Tebo Avenue
Port Alberni, BC  V9Y 5Y6

Powell River Powell River Employment Program Society

4727 Marine Avenue
Powell River, BC  V8A 2L2

604-485-2004 or
Prince George Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society of Prince George

1270 2nd Avenue
Prince George, BC  V2L 3B3

250-562-2900 or
Prince Rupert Hecate Strait Employment Development Society

208 First Avenue East
Prince Rupert, BC  V8J 4M8

250-624-9498 or
Quesnel New Focus Society

469 Anderson Drive
Quesnel, BC  V2J 5J4

Revelstoke Okanagan College

1401 1 Street West
Box 3118
Revelstoke, BC  V0E 2S0

250-837-4235, extension 6503
Richmond Richmond Multicultural Community Services

210-7000 Minoru Boulevard
Richmond, BC  V6Y 3Z5

Salmon Arm Shuswap Settlement Services Society

371 Hudson Avenue North East
Box 304 Stn. Main
Salmon Arm, BC  V1E 4N3

250-838-6445 or
Smithers Smithers Community Services Association

B-3815 Railway Avenue
Box 3759
Smithers, BC  V0J 2N0

Squamish Immigrant Services Society of BC – Squamish office

38085 2 Avenue
Squamish, BC  V8B 0C3

Surrey DIVERSEcity

13455 76 Avenue
Surrey, BC  V3W 2W3

Surrey Options Community Service Society

9815-140th Street
Surrey, BC  V3T 4M4

Surrey Progressive Intercultural Community Services

205-12725 80 Avenue
Surrey, BC  V3W 3A6

Terrace Northwest Community College

5331 McConnell Avenue
Terrace, BC  V8G 4X2

250-635-6511, extension 5305 or
250-624-6054, extension 5728
Terrace Skeena Diversity Society

4617 Lazelle Avenue
P.O. Box 665
Terrace, BC  V8G 1S3

Terrace Volunteer Terrace

3235 Emerson Street
Terrace, BC  V8G 5L2

Valemount Valemount Learning Centre

1201 5th Avenue
Valemount, BC  V0E 2Z0

250-566-4601 or
Vancouver Collingwood Neighbourhood House

5288 Joyce Street
Vancouver, BC  V5R 6C9

Vancouver Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House

2131 Renfrew Street
Vancouver, BC  V5M 4M5

604-251-1225, extension 224
Vancouver Immigrant Services Society of BC

2610 Victoria Drive
Vancouver, BC  V5N 4L2

Vancouver Jewish Family Service Agency

201-475 East Broadway
Vancouver, BC  V5T 1W9

Vancouver Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique

1575 West 7th Avenue
Vancouver, BC  V6J 1S1

604-732-1420, extension 305
Vancouver Little Mountain Neighbourhood House

3981 Main Street
Vancouver, BC  V5V 3P3

Vancouver MOSAIC

5575 Boundary Road
Vancouver, BC  V5R 2P9

Vancouver Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House

800 East Broadway
Vancouver, BC  V5T 1Y1

Vancouver Multicultural Helping House

4802 Fraser Street
Vancouver, BC  V5V 4H4

604-879-3277, extension 236
Vancouver REACH Community Health Centre

1145 Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC  V5L 3X3

Vancouver S.U.C.C.E.S.S. – Vancouver Headquarters

28 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC  V6B 1R6

Vancouver South Vancouver Neighbourhood House

6470 Victoria Drive
Vancouver, BC  V5P 3X7

Vancouver Vancouver Public Library

350 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC  V6B 6B1

Vancouver YMCA of Greater Vancouver

300-5055 Joyce Street
Vancouver, BC  V5R 6B2

Vernon Vernon and District Immigrant and Community Services Society

100-3003 30th Street
Vernon, BC  V1T 9J5

Victoria Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria

930 Balmoral Road
Victoria, BC  V8T 1A8

250-388-4728, extension 103
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