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Visitors in Canada continue to have access to work permits

September 26, 2021

Canada announced that it is extending until February 28, 2022, a coronavirus-related measure allowing visitors to obtain work permits.

Since August 24, 2020, temporary residents who are in Canada with valid visitor status have been able to apply for an employer-specific work permit from within Canada.

This is a temporary regulatory change as normally foreign workers who are in Canada on a visitor’s visa cannot change status without leaving the country.

When it was introduced, the meausure was intended to help employers who were having difficulty finding workers and to allow visitors facing visa status challenges due to the pandemic to enter the labor market. With limited air travel worldwide, some visitors were unable to leave the country, and some foreign workers had to change their status to “visitor” because their work permits had expired and they could not apply for new ones due to lack of employment.

Initially, the policy allowed all visitors who arrived in Canada before August 24 and were still in Canada with valid temporary resident status to apply for a work permit. Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has since expanded the eligibility criteria to include all visitors, regardless of when they arrived in Canada.

To be eligible for an employer-specific work permit, those with visitor status must:

be in Canada with valid temporary resident status as a visitor, which includes maintained status, at the time of they submit the work permit application;
have submitted an employer-specific work permit application;
remain in Canada with a valid status;
submit the application no later than February 28, 2022.

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