Conditions and validity period on work permits (temporary workers)

Note: Some Entry/Exit information is available in GCMS by conducting a query through the application screen. Since February 26, 2019, all land entry and exit records (on all travellers, including Canadian and US Citizens) and all air entry records are available. Entry/Exit information can be used to assess residency and to check for overstays. Data collected is point forward and not available for records that predate February 26, 2019.

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

All temporary workers have general conditions and specific conditions imposed on their work permits (see sections R183 and R185 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations [IRPR] for more details). When a work permit based on the offer of employment is issued, conditions are automatically imposed on employers [R209.2].

For Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-exempt, employer-specific work permits, there are 2 different sets of conditions involved:

  1. those imposed on the employer, based partially on the offer of employment when the work permit is issued
  2. those imposed on the temporary worker in regard to the work permit

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General conditions related to temporary work imposed by operation of law [R183]

As per paragraph R183(1)(b), all temporary residents may not work unless authorized to do so under sections R186, R200 and R201. These authorizations include the following:

  • the authority to work without a permit [R186]
  • open work permit holders [R200]
  • holders of employer-specific work permits [R201]

If authorized to work according to these regulations, temporary residents cannot enter into an employment agreement, or extend the term of an employment agreement with, an employer who is in any of the following situations:

  • on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages [R183(1)(b.1)]
  • is referred to in any of subparagraphs R200(3)(h)(i) to (iii) [R183(1)(b.2)], which includes an employer who is in any of the following situations:
    • is subject to a determination under subsection R203(5) because in the past 6 years, they failed to offer foreign nationals substantially the same wages and working conditions in the same occupation as the applicant, as those in the offer of employment
    • committed a violation under section R209.95
    • owes penalty fees or fails to make payments as per a payment agreement

Specific conditions related to temporary work: imposed by the processing officer [R185]

The specific conditions related to temporary work [R185] can be imposed only by an officer and are not automatic.

The conditions can be selected from the list in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) and will be written in the “Conditions” section on the work permit. If a specific condition is not in the GCMS list, the officer may add it in the “User Remarks” section of the work permit.

The conditions that may be imposed are as follows:

  • a period of authorized stay
    • may be different (longer) than the period of authorized work
  • the type of work
    • is as listed in the “Occupation” field on the work permit
    • is pulled from the “Job Title” field in GCMS and not the “NOC code” field
  • the employer
    • the officer does not need to include “not authorized to work for any other employer” in order for this condition to be imposed
    • including the name in the “Employer” field on the work permit imposes the condition that the temporary worker is authorized to work only for that specific employer
  • location of work
    • may be a specific street address, a city or town, a province or all of Canada
    • the officer must confirm that the location is correct as per the LMIA or the offer of employment (LMIA-exempt)
  • times and period of work
    • may be the number of days or specific periods the worker is allowed to work

In the processing of work permits, there are specific situations when imposing these conditions is mandatory.

Period of authorized stay (mandatory imposition)

The authorized period of stay may be longer than the authorized period of work [R185(a) and R185(b)(iv)].

Example situation for an authorized period of stay condition

In the Global Skills Strategy short-term work permit exemption category, when issuing a visitor record, an officer may issue it for a duration of 6 months and impose the condition that no more than 15 or 30 consecutive days of work may be completed during the validity of the visitor record.

Type of work (mandatory imposition)

There are a variety of situations where the type of work (that is, the occupation) must be imposed, such as with some employer-specific work permits and with open employer and occupation-restricted work permits [R185(b)(i)].

Example situations for a type of work condition

Employer-specific work permits: In both the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program, work permits are issued for foreign nationals to work in a specific occupation. The occupation is restricted to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code provided by the employer in the LMIA application or in the offer of employment for LMIA-exempt workers.

Open employer and occupation-restricted work permit: Where the employer is not listed, but the occupation is restricted due to medical or program requirements.

The employer (mandatory imposition)

When issuing a work permit under subparagraph R200(1)(c)(ii.1), officers must ensure an employer is identified and the employer name matches the employer named on the LMIA or the offer of employment [R185(b)(ii)].

Although this condition is imposed by writing the employer’s name on the work permit, officers are also advised to add the condition “Not authorized to work for any other employer” to the work permit, for clarity.

When an officer issues an employer-specific work permit under an LMIA exemption, if it is properly matched to the offer of employment, GCMS will automatically insert the employer’s name into the “Employer” field. This ensures that the correct name is entered and provides consistency of data, which improves data integrity in GCMS.

Location of work (mandatory imposition)

Location of work must be imposed as a condition where an LMIA has been issued or where it is a requirement of the LMIA exemption [R185(b)(iii)].

For example, when an employer has several franchise locations but indicates only one location on the offer of employment submitted through the system, the work permit should reflect the physical location of work and restrict the work to that location. However, if the employer indicates in the offer of employment that the worker will be working at multiple work locations, the officer should not restrict the work permit to a single location and should indicate in the “Remarks” field that the worker is authorized to work at the various locations across Canada.

For LMIA - supported work permits: The officer should impose the location of work to match the destination on the LMIA. This is to ensure that the temporary worker is working in the same labour market area assessed by Employment and Social Development Canada.

For LMIA-exempt work permits: Where the location of work is important to the exemption (such as for provincial nominees or specific “significant benefit to Canada” situations), location must be imposed.

Example situation for a location of work condition

A foreign national is assessed as being a significant social benefit because they are going to an area of Canada where their expertise is not otherwise available, such as in a rural area as opposed to a city. The officer will impose the specific location, as that is what was assessed for the LMIA exemption.

Times and periods of work (mandatory imposition)

While the period of authorized stay may extend beyond the authorization period of work, the period of work may never extend beyond the duration specified in the LMIA or offer of employment.

In addition to the duration of work, there may be conditions according to which the worker is not authorized to work at specific times or dates.

Example situations for times and periods of work conditions

Seasonal agricultural workers are never to work between December 15 and January 1.

Students are authorized to work for up to 20 hours per week in their off-campus employment during the semester.

Conditions imposed during the implied status period

Section R201 allows foreign nationals to apply for a renewal of their work permit only if the application is made before their present work permit expires. Paragraph R186(u) authorizes foreign nationals to work without a permit in the event that they submitted an application under section R201 and a decision on the renewal application has not yet been made.

Note: It is not “implied status” under subsections R183(5) and (6) that allows a foreign national to keep working while their application for extension is in process. The foreign national must meet the requirements of paragraph R186(u). Paragraph R186(u) applies only until a decision is made on the original work permit renewal application.

Once the original work permit expires, the foreign national cannot submit another application under section R201, because they no longer have a valid work permit. Therefore, they cannot trigger the requirements of paragraph R186(u) if they are submitting an application for restoration with a work permit application.

It should be noted that “status” and “authorization” are separate in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). A foreign national who submits the “Application to change conditions or extend my stay in Canada – Worker” application form [IMM 5710] is in effect submitting two applications in one. The foreign national is applying under section R181 for an “extension of status” and under section R201 of to “renew the work permit”. If submitted before the expiry of their present work permit, this combined application has 3 effects:

  1. Should a decision not be made on the “application” under section R181 before the expiration of their present status, the foreign national will be allowed to remain by operation of law (implied status) under subsection R183(5).
  2. The application for renewal under section R201 triggers the ability for the foreign national to “work without a permit” under paragraph R186(u), unless they leave Canada.
  3. Any conditions imposed on the initial work permit carry over into the implied status period under subsection R183(6). For example, if a person held an open work permit, they may continue working for any employer until the new work permit is issued or the application is refused.

Conditions imposed on the employer that overlap the work permit conditions

With the implementation of the employer compliance regime, for all employer-specific work permits, there are 2 different sets of conditions involved:

  1. those imposed on the employer based on the offer of employment
  2. those imposed on the worker as per the work permit

When issuing work permits and imposing conditions, officers should try to ensure that the conditions imposed on the worker under section R185 match the conditions that will be imposed automatically on the employer under section R209.2.

These conditions are the following:

Location

Worker conditions: The foreign national may have specific conditions imposed on them with the work permit. These conditions may include “not authorized to work at any other location”. If this condition is imposed and a location is specified, the worker will need a new work permit (including a new offer of employment in case of an LMIA-exempt work permit) in order to change locations.

Employer conditions: “Location” is normally considered as part of the condition that the employer must provide the “same working conditions”. The change in work location can’t be less favourable to the employee. In addition, the location can’t be changed if the location was part of the LMIA exemption requirement or justification (for instance, provincial nominees). Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not require proactive notification of changes, but the employer is required to maintain any documentation regarding the changes and provide it as justification at the time of inspection. Employers who believe that they are not meeting conditions can use the voluntary disclosure process.

Occupation

Officers must ensure that the occupation on the work permit matches the occupation stated in the offer of employment or the LMIA.

Worker conditions: The temporary worker may work only in the occupation specified on the work permit. Only the job title is printed on the work permit. However, it is the NOC code that the officer assesses against when issuing the work permit and conducting inspections. There are usually many different titles associated to a single NOC code. As long as the duties, education requirements, etc. of the occupation continue to match the NOC code, there should be no requirement for changing the work permit, and therefore, no requirement to submit a new offer of employment.

Employer conditions: The employer is required to provide the “same occupation” as that stated in the offer of employment. Therefore, the employer must ensure that the duties the temporary worker performs are for the NOC code specified in the offer rather than what is listed on the work permit.

The employer is required to retain all documents related to the foreign worker for up to 6 years after the date of issuance of the work permit, including details about the title change, to ensure information can be provided to an IRCC officer in the event of an inspection.

For more information, see the section “Occupation, Wages and Working Conditions” in the employer compliance inspections instructions.

Validity period for work permits

In general, the longer the duration of temporary stay is, the greater the onus will be on the individual to provide evidence of temporary purpose at the time an application for a work permit or extension is made.

When determining the validity period of a work permit, officers must first consider the passport validity under subsection R52(1): a foreign national is required by regulation to hold a passport that is valid for the period authorized for their stay, unless the applicant is exempted (such as U.S. nationals).

Therefore, officers cannot issue a work permit or grant status as a temporary worker beyond the validity of the passport, as doing so would be putting the temporary worker in a position of non-compliance. Exceptions to this are noted in subsection R52(2). An additional exception applies for work permits issued to those who may not have status as a temporary resident [R202].

The following circumstances are to be considered when determining a work permit validity period and are subject to passport validity:

  • the LMIA (subject to passport validity, officers should issue the work permit for the complete duration of the LMIA, taking into account the validity of the Quebec Acceptance Certificate where applicable)
  • the expected duration of employment in the LMIA-exempt offer of employment
  • the maximum time allowed by any particular program or agreement in which the temporary worker is participating

Some programs and agreements may limit the period of initial issuance, the extensions or the total period of employment in Canada. See the categories of work below.

Providing the requirements are met, officers should issue a work permit for the complete expected duration of the employment. It is in IRCC’s and the temporary worker’s interest to lengthen the periods between times when an immigration service is required. That is, officers should allow a foreign national to work, without having to submit renewal applications unnecessarily frequently, to save the employers’ and the workers’ time and money and to reduce the burden on the department’s resources.

If a temporary resident visa is necessary:It should be of the same duration as the work permit (or passport, if it will expire first), and it should allow for multiple entries, provided there are no restrictions noted in chapter IC 2.

For initial or renewed work permit applications from visa-exempt foreign nationals: An electronic travel authorization (eTA) will be issued automatically with the work permit. It will be valid for 5 years from the date of issuance or until the client’s passport expires (whichever comes first), regardless of whether this date is beyond the expiry date for the work permit. There will be no separate fee for the eTA.

Note: An eTA should not be issued with a work permit renewal in the following cases:

  • the foreign national has an unenforced removal order
  • the foreign national has been issued a work permit that “does not confer temporary resident status”
  • the foreign national has overstayed their authorized period of stay
  • the foreign national is a temporary resident permit holder
  • the foreign national is inadmissible to Canada

In all of the above cases, officers must cancel all valid eTAs (including those issued through the expansion of eTA).

In all of the above cases, officers must cancel all valid eTAs (including those issued through the expansion of eTA).

Categories of work with validity periods that may not be exceeded

  • Professionals
    North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) [R204(a), exemption code T23]: Work permits may be issued for 3 years, with renewals by 3‑year increments.

    Other free trade agreements (FTAs) similar to the NAFTA: [R204(a), exemption code T23]: Work permits may be issued for 1 year, with renewals by 1-year increments.

    General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) [R204(a), exemption code T33]: 90-day limit per 12-month period.

    Note: There is no limit on the number of extensions, providing the individual continues to comply with the requirements (see section 3.7 of the NAFTA).

  • Intra-company transferees
    NAFTA (and other FTAs similar to the NAFTA) [R204(a), exemption code T24], general provisions under the IRPA and the GATS [R205(a), (exemption code C12]: Work permits may be issued for the following periods:
    • Executives and managers: maximum initial 3 years, unless opening an office (1 year); 2-year renewals are allowable; the total period of stay may not exceed 7 yearsFootnote *
    • Specialized knowledge transferees: maximum initial 3 years, unless opening an office (1 year); 2-year renewals are allowable; the total period of stay may not exceed 5 yearsFootnote *
  • International Experience Canada programs
    Paragraph R205(b), exemption code C21:The work permit cannot extend past the period specified in the country agreement.
  • Study permit holders
    Work permits issued under subparagraphs R205(c)(i.1) and (i.2), with exemption codes C32 and C33, where the work is essential to the study program, should not exceed the validity date of the study permit.
  • Spousal employment provisions
    Work permits issued under subparagraph R205(c)(ii), with exemption code C41 or C42 [or under paragraph R205(b), with exemption code C20, in the case of spouses or common-law partners of military personnel or diplomats], should not exceed the duration of the principal applicant’s stay in Canada.
  • Post-graduate employment
    Subparagraph R205(c)(ii), exemption code C43: This can be used only once, with a total employment period of a maximum of 3 years (see Study permits: Post-Graduation Work Permit Program).
  • Live-in Caregiver Program
    The maximum validity of the work permit (and the maximum to which it can be extended under this program) is 4 years.

    Note: The entry into this program was capped at 0 in November 2014.

  • Refugee claimants, etc.
    For work permits issued under section R206, with exemption code S61 or S62, the initial validity is 24 months and renewals may be issued for 1-year periods.
  • Destitute students
    Section R208, exemption code H81: A work permit should be issued only to allow the study permit holder to complete their term.
  • Temporary resident permit holders
    To be issued a work permit under section R208, with exemption code H82, the holder must have a temporary resident permit valid for a minimum of 6 months. The validity date of the work permit should not exceed the validity of the temporary resident permit.
  • Special category countries
    In most cases, foreign workers from these countries may be issued work permits beyond a 1-year validity. See Appendix A of chapter IC 2.
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