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Work Permit Processing, Wait Times, and COVID Exceptions

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

During these uncertain times we are frequently asked about work permits, exceptions for workers traveling from outside Canada, priority processing for certain positions and how to speed up the process if you are applying for a new work permit, or extension from inside of Canada.

According to the government of Canada, "Foreign nationals outside of Canada can continue to submit work permit applications, although they are required to be submitted electronically.

Due to the travel restrictions, foreign nationals who are normally allowed to apply at the port of entry as per subsection R198(1) can no longer do so as the exemption to the travel restrictions for foreign nationals arriving from a country other than the U.S. applies only to holders of a work permit or those approved for a work permit in advance of arrival.

Note* Foreign nationals who are presenting themselves at a land border may still apply upon entry as long as their travel is not optional or discretionary and they are not restricted under the Orders.

Note** Foreign nationals can also continue to submit applications to extend or to change conditions on their work permits from within Canada.

Prioritizing work permit processing for essential occupations

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) will prioritize the processing of Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) for the following National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes related to agricultural, agri-food and truck driving occupations.

The following NOC codes related to work permit applications are prioritized.

  • NOC 6331 – Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers – retail and wholesale

  • NOC 7511 – Transport truck drivers

  • NOC 8252 – Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers

  • NOC 8431 – General farm workers

  • NOC 8432 – Nursery and greenhouse workers

  • NOC 8611 – Harvesting labourers

  • NOC 9463 – Fish and seafood plant workers

  • NOC 9617 – Labourers in food, beverage and associated products processing

  • NOC 9618 – Labourers in fish and seafood processing

  • NOC 9462 – Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers

Identifying requests that are eligible for priority processing may require an estimated 5 days to complete. As such, expedited processing timelines will only begin once the applicant has received confirmation that their application has been identified for priority processing.

Public policies - Changing Employment

A temporary public policy has been issued on the exemption from certain requirements when a temporary worker is changing employment.

The Policy is designed:

  1. to allow temporary workers already in Canada to more quickly begin work in advance of a final decision on their work permit application, provided that they

    1. are changing jobs or employers, and

    2. have secured a job offer under the terms of either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program

The measures include an exemption from providing biometrics in support of the work permit application if the Service Canada office serving the area where the applicant lives is temporarily closed and is not collecting biometrics due to the pandemic.

Out-of-status foreign nationals in Canada

A temporary public policy has been issued exempting certain foreign nationals in Canada from certain requirements when they have fallen out of status.

A temporary public policy has been established exempting foreign nationals from certain requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) if they meet certain conditions.

This public policy has 2 elements related to restoration objectives:

  • Restoration [PP.A] The public policy introduces an exemption from the requirement to apply for restoration within 90 days of losing temporary resident status for all foreign nationals (former workers, students and visitors) in Canada. Temporary residents whose work permit, study permit or authorization to stay expired after January 30, 2020 will have until December 31, 2020 to apply to restore their status instead of the current 90 days.

  • Interim work authorization [PP.B] The public policy allows former work permit holders with job offers to work while their restoration and work permit applications are being processed. If approved under this public policy, applicants may be authorized to start their employment while they await a decision on their restoration and work permit applications.

This public policy comes into effect on July 14, 2020, and remains in effect until December 31, 2020. Applications received on or before December 31, 2020 may benefit from this public policy.

Visitors applying for a work permit

A temporary public policy has been issued exempting temporary residents with valid status from meeting the requirements to apply in Canada for a work permit.

A temporary public policy has been issued to allow certain temporary residents in Canada with a visitor status to apply for a work permit from within Canada. While all visitors in Canada can apply for an employer-specific work permit under the public policy, only those who held a work permit in the last 12 months may request interim authorization to work. This public policy comes into effect on August 24, 2020, and remains in effect until March 31, 2021. Applications received on or before March 31, 2021 may benefit from this public policy.

Eligibility requirements for interim authorization to work

The former temporary worker who converted to “visitor” status

  1. has valid temporary resident status as a visitor, was physically in Canada on August 24, 2020 and has remained in Canada since;

  2. held a valid work permit in the 12 months preceding the date on which they submitted their application for a work permit under this public policy, even though they are now only a visitor;

  3. intends to work for the employer and occupation specified by the LMIA or LMIA-exempt offer of employment included in their work permit application submitted under the public policy;

  4. has applied to IRCC for the interim authorization to work as per this public policy using the IRCC Web form; and

  5. has requested that the authorization to work be applicable until a decision is made on their work permit application.


About Us

Immigration Station Canada is a dedicated, professional Canadian Immigration firm practicing out of Northumberland County, just east of Toronto, in Canada. We serve clients from Kingston, Belleville, Brighton, Cobourg, Oshawa, the GTA, Guelph, Milton, Stratford and St. Catharines and around the world. Our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, Anne C. McCaughey (Annie) is an experienced immigration services provider and a fifth generation Canadian who values the immigration process and the unique individuals who immigrate to Canada to become part of the fabric of this wonderful country. If you would like to submit a question to Ask Annie, use the link located at the top right of the page.

How Can We Help?

We do work permits, study permits, visitor visas, Express Entry, spousal sponsorship, family class sponsorship, and Canadian citizenship with an expertise in Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications and Global Talent Stream applications.

Please contact us if you would like assistance with your immigration application or to book an appointment.

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