Beginning on April 1, 2011 a temporary cap was imposed on many
temporary foreign workers in Canada. This 4-year cap is cumulative,
and was not applied retroactively. This means that the first date
on which workers will have reached the cap – including any
workers hired before the cap was imposed – is April 1, 2015.
Any legitimate, documented breaks from work during any period
covered by a work permit do not count towards the 4-year cap.
Legitimate breaks from work must exceed one month and may include
periods of unemployment, extended unpaid leave and parental
Affected Temporary Foreign Workers
The 4-year cap applies to all temporary foreign workers,
Those in managerial occupations (NOC-0) and professional
Temporary foreign workers who have applied for permanent
residency and received a certificate, approval in principal letter
or positive selection decision (per required program)
Temporary foreign workers employed under NAFTA or applicable
Temporary foreign workers exempt from the Labour Market Opinion
Employees covered by the 4-year cap should take steps now
– such as applying for permanent residency or securing work
in an exempt category, if eligible – if they wish to remain
in Canada. Employees who reach the 4-year cap and are not covered
by an exemption will be required to leave Canada and will not be
granted another work permit in Canada for an additional four
All temporary foreign workers should keep thorough records that
document their time spent working in Canada, including any
documented breaks from work. Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(CIC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers may request
Employers who rely on temporary foreign labour will want to
begin planning now to avoid any labour disruptions. LMOs that
propose work past April 1, 2015 will be reviewed to ensure that the
foreign worker is eligible for the full duration of the proposed
work period. Even if the LMO is new, if the employee was previously
employed under a work permit by another employer, they will only be
eligible to stay in Canada for a total of 4-years.
Employers should review the status of each of their temporary
foreign workers to:
Determine if they are affected
Review their options for staying in Canada
Consider new LMO applications in order to replace temporary
foreign workers who will reach the cap and who are not eligible to
remain in Canada
Employers and temporary foreign workers should allow for ample
time to file new applications and documentation as processing times
at different government offices are dependent on volume and
staffing and cannot be guaranteed.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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