Humanitarian reasons [R208 – H81 and H82] – International Mobility Program

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

Under section 208 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), work permits may be issued to foreign nationals who cannot support themselves without working and who are

  • study permit holders who have become temporarily destitute through circumstances beyond their control and beyond the control of any person on whom that person is dependent for financial support to complete their term of study or
  • temporary resident permit (TRP) holders where the TRP was issued under subsection 24(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and is valid for at least 6 months

On this page:

Evidence that the applicant requires public support

The onus is on applicants to prove that they are unable to support themselves without public assistance.

Important: It is not the intent that the study permit or temporary resident permit holder apply for social assistance before being issued a work permit.

Officers may accept any evidence that satisfies them that the person meets this requirement. Evidence to assess the inability of the foreign national to support themselves may be, but is not limited to, the following:

  • a letter or cheque stub from the provincial or territorial social service department
  • bank statements
  • letters from assistance groups
  • a review of the client’s immigration history and application forms, or other related documentation

Officers may consider that this particular eligibility criterion has been met if there is any likelihood that the applicant might require public assistance.

Destitute students [R208(a)]

This section applies to foreign students who, due to circumstances beyond their control, may find themselves unable to meet the cost of their studies in Canada, be it their day-to-day needs or their tuition.

While academic institutions do grant some leeway on obligations such as tuition and residence fees, working may be the only solution for students to subsist in these circumstances.

Section R208 provides the opportunity for students to cover such difficult financial periods, should on-campus employment provided for under paragraph R186(f) or off-campus employment provided under paragraph R186(v), or co-op employment, if eligible, prove to be insufficient.

It should be noted that as per section R220, study permit holders are expected to have sufficient and available resources without working in Canada in order to pay their tuition, and maintain themselves and any family members. As such, the open work permit should only be provided in exceptional circumstances.

Evidence of circumstances outside of their control or the control of their financial sponsor

In addition to providing evidence that they are temporarily destitute, the study permit holder should also provide evidence that the loss of financial support was outside of their control or the control of their financial sponsor.

Each case should be considered on its own merit. Some cases will be self-evident, such as cases of war, upheaval or the collapse of the banking system in their home country, while others will require further explanation by the applicant, usually at an interview with an immigration officer.

Officer discretion can be used to determine the length of the open work permit to be issued based on the circumstances of each individual case. However, it should be noted that the duration of the work permit cannot exceed the end of the current semester or term of study.

Students must continue to meet the conditions of their study permit while holding and working with the open work permit, namely to remain enrolled in a designated learning institution and actively pursue their studies.

Work permit issuance in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) for destitute students [R208(a)]

Under the Application screen, officers should enter the following information in the specified fields:

Field Selection or input

Case type

24 - Student

Province of destination

Open

City of destination

Open

Exemption code

H81

NOC

9999

Intended occupation

Open
or
Open Restricted (see Conditions for further instructions)

Employer

Open

Duration

To the end of the current semester or term of study.

Do not issue for the duration of the study permit or the complete duration of the entire program of studies.

Conditions

If there is no immigration medical examination (IME) or the IME has expired, the work permit must include conditions restricting work in designated occupations.

See instructions: Medical conditions to be imposed for open employer but occupation restricted work permits

Fees

Work permit processing fee: exempt under paragraph R299(2)(d). Exemption code: E01.

Open work permit holder fee: exempt under paragraph R303.2 (2)(a). Exemption code: P01.

Temporary resident permit holders [R208(b)]

This section applies to foreign nationals who have been issued a temporary resident permit (TRP) to overcome an inadmissibility or a requirement of the IRPA.

To be issued an open work permit, the foreign national must have one TRP valid for 6 months or more and should have no other means of support (meaning no family support or other means of meeting their needs). The individual TRP has to be valid for 6 months; there can’t be more than one TRP adding up to over 6 months. 

If a TRP application is submitted with a work permit application, both applications (IMM 5708 and IMM 5710) need to be submitted on paper together. If the foreign national is already a TRP holder, they may submit their work permit application online.

In the case of TRP holders who were refused the application for landing and who are waiting to become eligible for permanent residence, officers should not be too rigorous in determining whether applicants need to work because they have no other means of support.

The integration of future permanent residents will be assisted by allowing them to work.

Work permit issuance in GCMS for TRP holders [R208(b)]

Under the Application screen, officers should enter the following information in the specified fields:

Field Selection or input

Case type

28

Province of destination

Unknown

City of destination

Unknown

Exemption code

H82

NOC

9999

Intended occupation

Open
or
Open Restricted (see Conditions for further instructions)

Employer

Open

Duration

Equal to the validity of the temporary resident permit

Conditions

If there is no IME or the IME has expired, the work permit must include conditions restricting work in designated occupations.

See instructions: Medical conditions to be imposed for open employer but occupation restricted work permits

User remark (mandatory)

TRP Holder

Fees

Work permit processing fee: required.

Open work permit holder fee: Not required as paragraph R208(b) is not included in section R303.2, which specifies who pays the fee. Exemption code: P03.

Officers should be aware that both fees are automatically triggered in the online application tool.

To reduce refunds, applicants are instructed to pay the work permit processing fee outside the online tool and upload their receipt under Proof of Fee Exemption. For more information on applicant instructions, consult You’ve filed a claim for refugee protection in Canada.

Mandatory refunds: For applicants who have paid the open work permit holder fee, officers must initiate a refund of fees as per normal office procedures.

Family members of section R208 work permit holders

Section R208 does not include family members who are not themselves described in paragraph R208(a) or (b). Family members of study permit holders or of temporary resident permit holders are not entitled to an open work permit under this section. However, they can apply for a work permit from within Canada as per section R199 with a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or under an LMIA-exempt category.

Spouses of study permit holders may be eligible for an open work permit under paragraph R205(c). For more information, please see Spouses or common-law partners of full-time students [C42].

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