MT❯iplus Edition: Employees With Work Authorization Via Special Temporary Immigration Measures

McCarthy Tétrault LLP


McCarthy Tétrault LLP provides a broad range of legal services, advising on large and complex assignments for Canadian and international interests. The firm has substantial presence in Canada’s major commercial centres and in New York City, US and London, UK.
You are an employer recruiting for an open position. In assessing a foreign national applicant's work authorization status, you learn that the individual holds an open work permit...
Canada Immigration
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You are an employer recruiting for an open position. In assessing a foreign national applicant's work authorization status, you learn that the individual holds an open work permit based on a particular set of "temporary measures" (or a "temporary public policy") implemented generally as a result of a crisis (either a natural disaster, war or other event). What should employers be aware of when hiring such individuals? What are some of the common themes of these varied temporary measures? How can employers and employees benefitting from such measures plan ahead in order to potentially extend Canadian work authorization since these measures are, by definition, temporary and may come to an end in the not-too-distant future? This will be a high-level look into some of the key temporary measures implemented over the last few years and some relevant questions employers should ask of employees or candidates whose immigration status and work authorization may depend on one of these temporary measures?

What do we mean by Temporary Measures? What are some examples?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada ("IRCC") has instituted various temporary measures to benefit nationals of certain countries where either war has broken out, individuals are being persecuted or a significant natural disaster has occurred. While these temporary measures take different forms depending on the crisis they are addressing and due to other factors, they often have a number of common features, entitling applicants – often, without fees – to either:

  • an open work permit
  • a study permit
  • a visitor record
  • a temporary resident permit (TRP)

Case Study: Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel ("CUAET")1

By way of example, in the case of individuals benefitting from special temporary measures for Ukrainian nationals fleeing the war there (most of which expired on March 31, 2024), Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members were eligible to apply, on an expedited basis, for temporary travel authorizations allowing them entry into the country, along with open work permits allowing them to find work with essentially any employer in Canada.

Since the start of the CUAET program at the beginning of the Ukraine-Russia war, more than 286,000 Ukrainian nationals have arrived in Canada. A large proportion of this population is highly educated in fields that are in high demand by Canadian employers and a large number obtained open work permits and were hired by Canadian businesses seeking their skills and talents.

My employee has an open work permit but what about the future? How can she stay in Canada and remain employed?

We often hear a version of this question, both in the CUAET context and in the context of individuals granted work permits under other special temporary measures. It should be underlined that for Ukrainian nationals residing in Canada with Canadian citizen or permanent resident family members and who meet other eligibility criteria, may apply under a special permanent resident program.2 However, with work permits under the CUAET expiring – particularly for individuals who came earlier in the life of the program beginning in 2022 – relatively soon (as no permit length would exceed three (3) years in duration), employees will in many cases need extended work permits before PR is approved.

Without going into the fine details here, an individual with a work permit granted under such temporary special measures may need to apply for a work permit supported by an employer Labour Market Impact Assessment ("LMIA") issued by Employment and Social Development Canada ("ESDC"). While a few LMIA categories exist and some may benefit from expedited processing, it would no doubt be the case that an LMIA-based work permit could be complex or, at the very least, come with a lengthy process.

Even if an employee could benefit from an exemption from the LMIA process, processing times – including generating an appropriate strategy at the front-end – could still be lengthy. It is for these reasons that staying informed and informing employer legal counsel early in the process is wise and will serve to avoid complications and stress on the part of both employee and employer, especially when faced with an imminent expiry date.

While the CUAET is probably the best known and likely the most popular of the recent temporary special measures implemented by IRCC, there have been several others introduced in the last few years. Like with the CUAET, if your employee's work permit has been issued based on such a program, it is important to be aware of this information so that the work permit extension – and ultimately permanent residence strategy – be analyzed and determined as early as practicable. In brief, here are some examples of other recent special measures:

  • Temporary Special Measures to Support Iranian Nationals
  • Conflict in Sudan - Temporary measures for family members in Canada
  • Measures for Haitian nationals/passport holders and family members in Canada

Whether benefitting nationals of the impacted countries with Canadian family members or, in the case of the Iranian special measures, any Iranian citizen meeting the stated eligibility criteria, all of the above programs entail certain work permit eligibility and therefore it is of the utmost importance that employers – ideally at the outset of employment but certainly with sufficient time prior to work permit expiry – are aware of the details of the applicable program and how their employee's work authorization and immigration future in Canada may be affected.




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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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