Vulnerable foreign workers who are victims of abuse
If you need help right away call 9-1-1 or your local police.
What is abuse
Any behaviour that scares, controls or isolates you could be abuse. Abuse can be physical, sexual, financial or mental.
Examples of abuse that you should report in your application include:
- physical harm
- forcing you to work in a way that’s unsafe or puts your health at risk
- unsafe or unsanitary living conditions in employer-provided housing
- sexual touching that you did not agree to
- making unwanted sexual comments to you
- controlling where you can go
- stealing from you
- stopping you from seeing friends or co-workers
- taking some or all of the money you are paid
- threats, insults and intimidation
- forcing you to commit fraud
Open work permit for vulnerable workers
If you’re being abused or at risk of being abused in relation to your job in Canada, you may be eligible for an open work permit for vulnerable workers.
An open work permit lets you work for any employer in Canada, except for one that:
- is listed as ineligible on the list of employers who have failed to comply with the conditions or
- regularly offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages
This work permit helps protect your rights as a worker in Canada by helping you leave an abusive situation to find a new job. However, it’s a temporary solution and:
- has an expiry date, and
- can’t be renewed
If you’re approved for this work permit, it should give you enough time to find a new employer and apply for a new work permit. You must apply for another work permit before this one expires if you want to stay and work in Canada.
Who can apply
You can apply if you:
- are inside Canada
- applications made at a port of entry won’t be accepted
- have a valid employer-specific work permit
- this is a work permit that has your employer’s name on it and isn’t expired (or you applied to renew it before it expired)
- are being abused or at risk of being abused in relation to your job in Canada
There are no fees for this work permit.
How to apply
You must apply online.
Step 1: Make sure you have what you need
To apply online, you’ll need a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of your documents.
Step 2: Read the instruction guide
Even if you apply online, you should read the instruction guide before you complete your application. The guide will explain how to complete each field on the form.
Step 3: Support your application with evidence
To support your application, include as much evidence as you can with your application. You can upload documents as evidence in the “Client Information” field under “Optional Documents”.
There is only one “Client Information” field to upload all of your evidence. You have to combine all your evidence in 1 file and upload it together. Find out how to upload multiple documents into 1 field.
One document that you must include as evidence is a letter to describe your situation and the abuse you’re facing or at risk of facing.
Other types of evidence could include:
- a letter, statement or report from an abuse support organization, medical doctor, healthcare professional, etc.
- a sworn statement, also known as an affidavit, from yourself
- a copy of an official report you submitted to an enforcement agency, such as a police or Canada Border Services Agency report
- a copy of an official complaint submitted to a provincial enforcement agency, such as an Employment Standards Branch
- a victim impact statement
- email messages
- photos showing injuries or working conditions
- witness testimony
The above list includes examples of evidence. You may have other types of evidence.
Step 4: Create your online account or sign in
You need an account to apply online. You can use your account to:
- submit your application
- upload documents
- check your application status
Step 5: Get to the application
After you sign in to your account, follow these steps to get to the application:
- Under “Start an application”, choose “Apply to come to Canada”
- Choose “Visitor visa, study and/or work permit”
- Answer the questions in the online tool
- For question 1 “What would you like to do in Canada?“, choose “Work”
- When asked “What is your current country/territory of residence?”, choose “Canada”
- When asked “Do you have a written job offer?”, choose “No”
- When asked “Does this situation apply to you? You have a valid employer-specific work permit and are being abused or there is a risk of being abused in relation to your job in Canada?”, choose “Yes”
- When you get to the page that says “Your results”, choose “Open work permit for vulnerable workers”
Fingerprints and photo (biometrics)
As of December 3, 2019, most people applying from inside Canada must give their fingerprints and photo (biometrics). However, because you may be in a vulnerable situation, we won’t ask you to give your biometrics when you apply. If an officer determines you need to give your biometrics, they’ll ask you to give them after you apply.
When you apply online, you’ll be asked if you’ve given your biometrics for an application in the past.
- If you’ve given them in the past, choose “Yes”.
- If you haven’t given them in the past, choose “No”.
- When asked about the fee, choose the option that says you’re exempt from paying the fee.
- By choosing this option, you won’t be asked to pay the fee later in the application process.
When you’ve answered all the questions, you’ll get your document checklist. It includes the form “Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker (IMM5710)”. This is the work permit form you need to fill out.
If you can’t apply online
You can submit a paper application in any of these situations:
- you can’t apply online because of a disability
- there’s a problem with our online application system
After you apply
After we receive your application at the local office, we’ll contact you within 5 business days to tell you what to do next.
We may ask you to do an interview.
After you get your open work permit, we may contact your employer to perform an inspection. We won’t contact them for any other reason.
We inspect employers to make sure they follow the rules when hiring temporary workers through the International Mobility Program or the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Inspections are meant to protect temporary workers.
If you’re approved for the open work permit for vulnerable workers, we may ask you to give us information to help us inspect your former employer. You don’t have to give us information. The choice is yours.
The inspection can happen at any time after you get your open work permit.
Open work permit for your family members
Family members who came with you to Canada may also be eligible for an open work permit if your application is approved. They must complete their own application but may submit it together with your application.
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