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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Visitors can apply for work permits inside Canada

by Michael Scott

The community is excited about the August 24, 2020 announcement of a new temporary public policy that will allow visitors to apply for a work permit without having to leave Canada. Did you hear that visitors who are currently in Canada? You are now able to apply for an employer specific worker permit. This represents a major departure from the Immigration Act and Regulations as well as immigration practice. The news is a temporary policy change that will benefit Canadian employers who face difficulties finding workers as well as temporary residents who would like to remain in Canada and contribute their labour and skills to Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The challenge for many temporary residents is to remain inside Canada and maintain their legal status given the uncertainty about limited air travel and the current status of the pandemic in countries, such as the Philippines. The target group for the policy change includes foreign workers who had to change their status to visitors because their work permit was expiring and they did not have a job offer to apply for a new work permit. Prior to this temporary policy change, a person applying as a temporary resident would usually have to apply for a work permit before coming to Canada. If the applicant were already in Canada with visitor status, he or she would have to leave Canada and apply for a work permit from outside the country (in their home country or a country in which they have continuing status for one year). In addition, some Canadian employers have been facing a labour shortage and difficulty finding workers with requisite skills.

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino, spoke highly of the policy change.

“We have heard from employers who continue to face challenges recruiting and hiring the workers they need during the pandemic. At the same time, some visitors in Canada may be able to contribute their skills where there are labour shortages. The measures introduced today will now allow visitors to apply for work permits without having to leave the country first,” the Minister stated.

“This exemption from the normal temporary work permit requirements is aimed at removing barriers to create a more agile workforce that leverages visitors with the skills and experience to accelerate our economic recovering.” Canada continues to be supportive of immigration and consider visitors as a source for much needed workers.

In order to qualify for the temporary public policy, visitor applicants must meet a number of requirements:

  • Have valid visitor status in Canada on August 24, 2020 and remain in Canada. They must have continuing legal status;
  • Visitors who arrive in Canada after August 24, 2020 are not eligible for the policy exemption;
  • Have a valid job offer;
  • Support their application for an employer-specific work permit with a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), or an LMIA-exempt offer of employment, no later than March 31, 2021;
  • The specifics of completing the work permit application are included with the ministerial news release. Applicants are directed to the following instructions:;

  • Meet all other standard admissibility criteria such as criminality, medical, security and be in-status.

The news is exciting and within one day of the announcement, members of the community are calling to inquire. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the way Canada’s administers immigration. We should be encouraged by the government’s positive view of immigration. The recent policy change is something that helps with Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19 as well as giving visitors to the country work permit options. Looks like all sides are winners.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Canada Immigration and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with R.B. Global Immigration Consultants Ltd. 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail:

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