Employment insurance available to military families
When Canadian Armed Forces members are posted to a new location, the experience can be very rewarding for both the members and their families. However, some military spouses/common-law partners and dependant children are unable to maintain their employment following a posting. As a result, they can be left at a disadvantage.
Canadian citizens are entitled to receive Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria, such as if they lose their job through no fault of their own and are available for and able to work, but cannot find a job.Footnote 1 As a result, some military spouses/common-law partners and dependant children who lose their jobs to join a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) member at a new posting may qualify for EI benefits.
This document will provide guidance about military families’ eligibility for EI regular benefits during postings in Canada and the United States. In addition, this document presents information about additional EI and employment benefits that may be available on all postings.
Note: To ensure you meet the definition of a spouse, common-law partner, or dependant child, engage with each authority outlined below directly.
Employment Insurance – Regular Benefits:
Military spouses/common-law partners and dependant children who lose their employment as a result of a posting within Canada may be eligible for EI regular benefits. To find out if you are eligible, you should submit an application online within four weeks after your last day of work. Should you delay in filing a claim, you may lose benefits.
For more information regarding EI regular benefits, eligibility, and the application process while living within Canada, see the EI Regular Benefits - Overview or contact the Employment Insurance Telephone Information Service at 1-800-206-7218.
After you file your EI application review the status of your claim, your payments, update your personal information, and view your Record of Employment by visiting the My Service Canada Account (MSCA).
United States Postings
Spouses/common-law partners and dependant children of military members being posted to the United States (US) may also be eligible for EI regular benefits. To find out if you are eligible, you must submit an application online. However, if you are residing in the United States and claiming regular Canadian Employment Insurance benefits, you must be available and actively seeking work and you must provide proof that you are legally authorized to work in the United States.Footnote 2 To prove that you are authorized to work you must:
- be a US citizen,
- hold a permanent resident card,
- hold an employment-related visa which allows you to work for a particular employer, or
- have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).Footnote 3
What you will need to do:
Step 1: Applying for EI regular benefits
Note: You must obtain your Record of Employment (ROE) from your Canadian employer and submit it to Service Canada without delay.
For more information about EI regular benefits, eligibility, and the application process while living in the United States, see the EI - Workers and residents outside of Canada - Overview or contact the Employment Insurance Telephone Information Service at 1-800-203-7218.
After you file your EI application you also can review the status of your claim, your payments, update your personal information, and view your ROE by visiting the My Service Canada Account (MSCA).
Step 2: Applying for Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
As a military spouse/common-law partner or dependant child, the most common way to prove you are authorized to work in the US will be an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To receive an EAD, you must first file an I-765, Application for Employment Authorization once you have moved to the US. Your EAD can take up to 90 days to be processed.Footnote 5 Therefore, military spouses/common-law partners and dependant children should apply for their EAD as soon as they arrive in the US and have received their I-94, Arrival – Departure Record.Footnote 6 Once you receive your EAD, you can forward the documentation to Service Canada.
You can find more information about an EAD or employment authorization on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website or by calling them at 1-800-375-1833.
Return to Canada from a United States Posting
Upon return to Canada, you may be eligible for American Unemployment Insurance benefits if your last employment was in the United States and you now reside in Canada. If you also had previous employment in Canada, you may be able to file a claim for Canadian EI benefits instead. You may be able to receive benefits from either Canada or the United States, but you cannot receive benefits from both countries at the same time.Footnote 7
Employment Insurance – Other Benefits
Postings to and from locations outside Canada and the United States
If you reside outside Canada in a country other than the United States, you may be eligible for maternity and parental, sickness or compassionate care, provided you have a valid Social Insurance Number. Regular benefits are not payable to a person residing in a country other than Canada or the United States.Footnote 8
Additional Employment Insurance benefits available on all postings
In addition to EI regular benefits, military spouses/common-law partners and dependant children residing in Canada and abroad may be eligible to apply for other EI benefits. These benefits include:
- EI Maternity and Parental Benefits,
- EI Sickness Benefits,
- EI Compassionate Care Benefits,
- Family Caregiver Benefit for Children, and
- Family Caregiver Benefit for Adults.
For more information about these additional EI benefits, contact the Employment Insurance Telephone Information Service at 1-800-203-7218.
Employment Assistance for spouses and common-law partners
Members may request financial assistance to help their military spouse/common-law partner in securing employment at posts outside Canada or upon return to Canada. For more information on employment assistance for spouses and common-law partners, review the Military Foreign Service Instructions - chapter 10, section 13. For information on how to claim this benefit, contact your gaining Unit Record Support (URS).
Spouses or common law-partner who are indeterminate (permanent) Federal Public Service employees and have been granted a leave-of-absence due to relocation may be eligible for regulatory priority entitlements. For more information about priority enlistments due to Relocation of spouse or common-law partner, contact the Priority Entitlement Consultants of the Public Service Commission at email@example.com or 1-855-235-3113 (toll free).
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