New work permit rules (April 1, 2011)
The Canadian government has decided that it is time for temporary foreign workers to make their decisions about remaining in Canada more quickly. With the implementation of the new regulations effective on April 1, 2011, foreign workers will only be allowed a maximum four year work permit period at a time. At the end of each period, these individuals are required to return back to their home country for another four years before being eligible to apply for another Canadian work permit. There will be no reprieve for individuals on a work permit awaiting their permanent resident status approval. Even if they are pending the issuance of their landing status, foreign nationals will be required to return home to await final PR approval.
There are some exceptions to these rules but it is quite limited. Only work permits obtained via a few select categories such as international agreements (NAFTA) or which fall under cultural significance will be granted an exception from this new requirement.
The Canadian immigration authorities are definitely tightening their rules. In the past, work permit extensions were not strictly monitored and a foreign worker could be extended on an ongoing basis with no (formal) maximum time limits. These days, foreign workers are not only subject to stricter scrutiny for Labour Market Opinions (LMO) but also for the period in which these will be issued by Service Canada/HRSDC; and then further with the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
The remedy for temporary foreign workers is to make a quicker decision regarding their longer term immigration plans. Either a temporary work permit is viewed as a temporary assignment or the first step towards making a Canadian permanent resident application. There are quite a few programs which foreign nationals may apply for Canadian permanent residency – the best options will depend on their eligibility and circumstances.
Ultimately, the Canadian government realizes that our country’s future is still very connected to immigration. The work force and the population cannot be sustained by our birth rates alone. In addition, a large number of the skilled and semi-skilled workers needed to help us maintain and grow our economy in the meantime will still be coming from outside the country. Canada is still a very welcoming nation for foreign nationals but it has realized that they want people to come here and make the decision to stay sooner than later. These new rules have made it clear that Canadian permanent residency as opposed to temporary sojourning is the focus of the future.
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