Short-term (120-day) work permit exemption for researchers

The 120-day work permit exemption allows eligible researchers to exit and re-enter Canada within the 120-day time frame. However, the number of consecutive days cannot be extended beyond the initial 120 days. The 120 days begin on the date the exemption was granted.

On June 12, 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), in coordination with Employment and Social Development Canada, launched the Global Skills Strategy and introduced, among other changes, new work permit exemptions for certain high-skilled work of a short duration.

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has established a public policy under section A25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) that justifies granting a work permit exemption to certain highly skilled foreign nationals coming to Canada for 120 consecutive days to perform work in a publicly funded Canadian degree-granting institution (or its affiliated research institution).

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Conditions

Based on public policy considerations, officers may grant a foreign national seeking to enter Canada a work permit exemption for 120 consecutive calendar days if the following applies:

  • The foreign national is coming to perform work for 120 consecutive days or less and has not been granted an exemption under the public policy facilitating entry into Canada for short term work in the last 12 months.
  • The foreign national intends to perform work as a researcher.
  • The foreign national has an offer from a publicly funded degree-granting institution (at the college or university level) or its affiliated research institution (see note).
  • The foreign national has a significant role to play in or value to add to the research project.
  • When entering Canada, at the request of an officer, the foreign national produces written confirmation from the receiving institution attesting to the details of the work as being primarily research and outlining the duration of the work.

Eligible persons may also need a temporary resident visa (TRV) or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) to come to Canada.

Affiliated research institutions

Universities and think tanks usually work with research institutions to produce reports and studies. Because the relationship is at arm’s length, they are considered affiliates, though sometimes research bodies may operate inside universities.

Example

The University of Ottawa (a publicly funded degree granting institution) is affiliated with certain research institutions, such as the following:

  • the Institute of Mental Health Research
  • the University of Ottawa Heart Institute
  • the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute

These institutions have a research mandate and qualified research staff and/or research facilities.

Institutions that play a supporting role (that is, they do not conduct research) are not eligible for the 120-day work permit exemption.

Considerations

The intent of this exemption is to attract specialized foreign researchers for short periods of time. Therefore, only foreign nationals outside Canada are eligible for this exemption.

In assessing whether the foreign national has a significant role to play in or value to add to the research project, officers may wish to consider the following:

  • The applicant demonstrates academic excellence or expertise in a field related to the particular work to be undertaken.
  • The position reflects the experience and expertise of the applicant and the role they will play in the project.

While most foreign nationals coming to Canada to perform research are likely to be professionals, there may be situations where undergraduate or graduate students are coming to perform research with Canadian faculty at degree-granting institutions or their affiliated research institutions. These students may also be considered under this exemption, subject to the criteria noted above.

Where applicable, officers should document “120-day work permit research exemption – Public Policy” in the case notes in the Global Case Management System (GCMS). Upon receipt of an application for this exemption, officers should verify in the system whether the foreign national has previously used this exemption.

If the officer has concerns over the past use of this exemption, the foreign national must demonstrate that they have not been granted this exemption in the last 12 months. Foreign nationals who have been granted this exemption in the last 12 months and who intend to work in Canada before the 12 months have passed must apply for a work permit.

Required documentation

The foreign national must provide sufficient documentary evidence to satisfy an officer that a short-term exemption applies.

Documentary evidence includes written confirmation from the publicly funded degree-granting institution (or its affiliated research institution if they are coming to work there) attesting to the following:

  • the details of the work (that is, descriptions of the duties, research activities and the National Occupational Classification code of the occupation the foreign national will be performing)
  • the period of employment (start date and end date)

Acceptable documentary evidence may also include written confirmation from an organization that coordinates the selection and hiring of researchers intending to work at the degree granting institution or its affiliated research institutions.

Other documents that may be requested include the following:

  • transcripts, diplomas or certificates
  • evidence of the significant role the foreign national will play in or the value the foreign national will add to the research project

Certain foreign nationals who are exempt from the requirement to obtain a TRV must apply for an eTA. See the eTA overview page for guidance.

Renewals

Applicants may be granted this 120-day work permit exemption only once within a 12-month period.

Example of a 12-month period

If a foreign national entered Canada under the 120-day work permit exemption and is required to work in Canada for another 120 days, they will not be eligible to renew their stay as a temporary worker. Twelve months must pass from the date of entry before the foreign worker is eligible to use the 120-day exemption again.

Foreign nationals may be able to use the 120-day exemption offered for research activities as well as the 15- or 30-day exemption. However, foreign nationals who wish to use the short term work permit exemption on more than 1 occasion must ensure the required amount of time has elapsed since they last used a short-term work permit exemption before using the exemption again.

Foreign nationals who have already used the 120-day research exemption must wait 12 months before using this short-term work permit exemption again.

The following cases provide guidance for when foreign nationals may be granted the 120-day exemption, or short-term work permit exemptions if they have previously benefited from the 120-day exemption.

If a foreign national has benefited from the 120-day exemption, they may be granted 1 of the following:

  • a subsequent 120-day exemption if they have not been granted a short-term work permit exemption in the last 12 months
  • a 15-day exemption once 6 months have elapsed since the 120-day exemption was granted
  • a 30-day exemption once 12 months have elapsed since the 120-day exemption was granted

Working with multiple employers

The 120-day short term work permit exemption applies to the foreign national and not to the employer. Each foreign national will be authorized to work without a permit under the public policy for a 120-day period every 12 months.

If the foreign national enters Canada under the 120-day work permit exemption and intends to work for more than 1 employer during that period, they must provide both of the following:

  • proof that they have a job offer (to be presented to the processing officer at the port of entry)
  • written confirmation from each publicly funded degree-granting institution, or its affiliated research institution, for which they intend to perform the work

The written confirmation must attest to the details of the work and outline the period of employment (start date and end date). For more details, see the Required documentation section.

Implied status

Section R201 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations allows a foreign national to apply for a renewal of their work permit only if the application is made before their work permit expires. Paragraph R186(u) allows a foreign national to continue working under the same conditions in the event that they submitted an application under section R201 and a decision on the renewal of their application has not yet been made.

Foreign workers entering Canada under the 120-day work permit exemption for researchers or the short-term (15- or 30-day) work permit exemption do not have a work permit, so regulations governing work permit renewals [R201 and R186(u)] do not apply. If they were admitted for 6 months at the port of entry, they can stay as visitors until the end of the period authorized for their stay, but they cannot work past the period allowed by the exemption unless otherwise authorized. Those foreign nationals must submit their initial work permit applications online or via a visa application centre overseas.

Visitor records

Generally, if an officer believes that a foreign national’s length of stay should be limited to a period of less than 6 months, a visitor record [IMM 1097] is issued as a means of exercising an element of control over the foreign national’s length of stay. Similarly, the border services officer should issue a visitor record form [IMM 1442B] when authorizing a period of stay greater than 6 months and indicate in the “Remarks” section why the greater period of time is being granted.

In support of a social insurance number application to Service Canada, foreign workers must provide an original copy of 1 of the following:

  • work permit
  • visitor record issued by IRCC, indicating they are authorized to work in Canada (for those who are work permit exempt)
  • diplomatic identity card and a note of permission of employment issued by Global Affairs Canada
  • study permit indicating that the foreign national is authorized to work in Canada:
    • a study permit that indicates that the permit holder “may accept employment” or “may work” in Canada
    • a study permit and a “confirmation to work off campus” letter issued by IRCC before February 11, 2015

The following acceptable statements may also appear on the visitor record:

  • “Work Permit exempt as a [job title]”
  • “Work permit exempt, per section R186"; there may be a subsection listed, for example, subsection R186(s)
  • “120 day short term work permit exemption – Public policy”
  • “30 day or 15 day short term work permit exemption – Public policy”

Foreign nationals who are eligible for the 120-day work permit exemption for researchers or the short-term (15- or 30-day) work permit exemption may request a visitor record at the port of entry. Border services officers should issue a visitor record to the client, if requested and if all other requirements have been met.

Where applicable, officers should document the exemption in the case notes in GCMS and in the visible remarks of the visitor record as follows: “120-day short term work permit exemption – Public Policy” or “30-day or 15 day short term work permit exemption – Public Policy.” Officers should verify in the system whether the worker has been granted an exemption under the public policy in the last 12 months.

If the officer has concerns over the past use of this exemption, the onus will be on the foreign national to demonstrate they meet the requirements of this exemption.

Canadian publicly funded degree-granting institutions

Note: While this list is fairly complete, there may be additional Canadian publicly funded degree-granting institutions, so it should not be considered exhaustive.

Institution Province or territory
Acadia University Nova Scotia
Alberta College of Art and Design Alberta
Algoma University Ontario
Algonquin College Ontario
Ambrose University Alberta
Assiniboine Community College Manitoba
Athabasca University Alberta
Aurora College Northwest Territories
Bishop’s University Quebec
Brandon University Manitoba
British Columbia Institute of Technology British Columbia
Brock University Ontario
Burman University Alberta
Camosun College British Columbia
Canadian Mennonite University Manitoba
Cape Breton University Nova Scotia
Capilano University British Columbia
Carleton University Ontario
Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup Quebec
Centennial College Ontario
College of New Caledonia British Columbia
College of the Rockies British Columbia
Concordia University Quebec
Concordia University of Edmonton Alberta
Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning Ontario
Dalhousie Agricultural Campus of Dalhousie University Nova Scotia
Dalhousie University Nova Scotia
Douglas College British Columbia
École de technologie supérieure Quebec
École nationale d’administration publique Quebec
École Polytechnique de Montréal Quebec
Emily Carr University of Art and Design British Columbia
Fanshawe College of Applied Arts and Technology Ontario
George Brown College Ontario
Georgian College of Applied Arts and Technology Ontario
Grande Prairie Regional College Alberta
HEC Montréal Quebec
Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning Ontario
Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec Quebec
Institut national de la recherche scientifique Quebec
Justice Institute of British Columbia British Columbia
The King’s University Alberta
Kwantlen Polytechnic University British Columbia
La Cité collégiale Ontario
Lakehead University Ontario
Lakeland College Alberta
Langara College British Columbia
Laurentian University Ontario
Lethbridge College Alberta
MacEwan University Alberta
McGill University Quebec
McMaster University Ontario
Medicine Hat College Alberta
Memorial University of Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador
Mount Allison University New Brunswick
Mount Royal University Alberta
Mount Saint Vincent University Nova Scotia
Niagara College Ontario
Nicola Valley Institute of Technology British Columbia
Nipissing University Ontario
North Island College British Columbia
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Alberta
Northern Lights College British Columbia
Northwest Community College British Columbia
Nova Scotia Community College Nova Scotia
NSCAD University Nova Scotia
OCAD University Ontario
Okanagan College British Columbia
Olds College Alberta
Queen’s University Ontario
Red Deer College Alberta
Red River College of Applied Arts, Science and Technology Alberta
Royal Military College of Canada Ontario
Royal Roads University British Columbia
Ryerson University Ontario
Saint Mary’s University Nova Scotia
Saskatchewan Polytechnic Saskatchewan
Selkirk College British Columbia
Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology Ontario
Sheridan College Ontario
Simon Fraser University British Columbia
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Alberta
St. Francis Xavier University Nova Scotia
St. Lawrence College Ontario
St. Mary’s University Alberta
St. Thomas University New Brunswick
TELUQ Quebec
Thompson Rivers University British Columbia
Trent University Ontario
Université de Moncton New Brunswick
Université de Montréal Quebec
Université de Saint-Boniface Manitoba
Université de Sherbrooke Quebec
Université du Québec Quebec
Université du Québec à Chicoutimi Quebec
Université du Québec à Montréal Quebec
Université du Québec à Rimouski Quebec
Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Quebec
Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue Quebec
Université du Québec en Outaouais Quebec
Université Laval Quebec
Université Saint-Anne Nova Scotia
University College of the North Manitoba
University of Alberta Alberta
University of British Columbia British Columbia
University of Calgary Alberta
University of Guelph Ontario
University of King’s College Nova Scotia
University of Lethbridge Alberta
University of Manitoba Manitoba
University of New Brunswick New Brunswick
University of Northern British Columbia British Columbia
University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ontario
University of Ottawa Ontario
University of Prince Edward Island Prince Edward Island
University of Regina Saskatchewan
University of Saskatchewan Saskatchewan
University of the Fraser Valley British Columbia
University of Toronto Ontario
University of Victoria British Columbia
University of Waterloo Ontario
University of Windsor Ontario
University of Winnipeg Manitoba
Vancouver Community College British Columbia
Vancouver Island University British Columbia
Western University Ontario
Wilfrid Laurier University Ontario
York University Ontario
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