By Rhonda Williams, Former Visa Officer
As of April 1, 2015, thousands of temporary workers in Canada will be subject to the so-called ‘4 in, 4 out’ rule. Changes made in 2011 to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by Citizenship and Immigration Canada mean that once a temporary foreign worker has worked in Canada for four years, s/he will not be able to obtain a new work permit until s/he has been outside of Canada for four years. After that time, the person may apply for a fresh worker permit. There are some limited exceptions*.
The rule will be applied as of April 1 and many workers and their employers will be affected in the coming months. Some workers will have to leave Canada when their permits expire. While not unexpected, many workers and their employers are looking for options to help them remain in Canada and in their jobs. There are several potential options that could lead to permanent residence in Canada.
Under the new Express Entry (EE) file management system introduced by Citizenship and Immigration on January 1, 2015, some temporary foreign workers affected by 4 in, 4 out, may be eligible to apply for permanent residence in Canada. EE is a file management system used by CIC to facilitate the selection of candidates for immigration to Canada under the following economic immigration programs:
Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)
Canada Experience Class (CEC)
Federal Skilled Trades (FST)
Some Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)
Having work experience in Canada can be helpful to your application under EE. If you qualify under any of these programs, you may be eligible for processing under EE. An experienced immigration consultant can help you to create an EE profile and find ways to enhance your ranking in the EE candidate pool.
Several provinces in Canada have their own immigration programs. While a portion of some of those programs will now fall under EE, most of the programs do not. Each PNP is specifically designed to meet the needs of a particular province and selects new immigrants with skills and backgrounds that meet those needs. If you are already working for an employer in a province with a PNP, you may be eligible to apply to the PNP with the support of your employer. With so many different programs, it is advisable to carefully research which program might work best for you.
The province of Quebec has its own points-based immigration program. French language proficiency is not required for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, although it would certainly be helpful! With your background and work experience in Canada, you may already be eligible for this program.
If you have already worked in Quebec for at least 12 months within the past two years, you may be eligible for the Quebec Experience Class program. You do have to prove at least an intermediate proficiency in French for this program.
Keep in mind that the PNPs and the Quebec immigration programs have the expectation that successful applicants will reside in their province. You should be mindful of the fact that your intention to reside in the particular province will be carefully considered and you should be serious about your genuine intention to reside in the province in which you apply.
Since you arrived in Canada, you may have established a genuine family relationship with a spouse or common-law partner. They might be eligible to sponsor you for permanent residence in Canada. You and your sponsor will have to submit a joint application, which will evaluate the spouse for sponsorship and then the relationship for legitimacy. If you take this route to immigration, make sure that you maintain your legal status in Canada if your work permit expires. You may have to apply for a Change in Status.
If you do change your status in Canada to visitor status, remember that you cannot work or study whilst you remain in Canada on that status.
You might decide to upgrade your qualifications and remain in Canada as a student on a study permit. It takes a bit of time to apply to educational institutions and get accepted, so make sure you start in advance. If this is going to be a pathway to immigration for you, make sure you know if the particular institutions you chose will render you eligible for a post graduate work permit or not.
*Exemptions to 4 in, 4 out
- NOC types 0 (management) and A (professional).
- LMIA-exempt jobs under:
- International agreements (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA);
- Canadian interests;
- Self-support; or
- Humanitarian reasons.
- Applicants under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Program (SAWP).
- When no work permit was required in order for the foreign national to work in Canada. Examples include some business visitors, foreign diplomats, performing artists and those working for a foreign news company reporting from Canada.
- Permanent resident (PR) applicants who have received a positive selection decision or approval in principle in the PR category for which they have applied.
Provincial nominees applying for an employer-specific work permit who intend to perform work pursuant to:
- an international agreement between Canada and one or more countries, other than an agreement concerning seasonal agricultural workers; or
- an agreement entered into by one or more countries and by or on behalf of one or more provinces.