If you are a temporary foreign worker, you and your employer may decide to change or extend your employment beyond the period stated in your work permit. In other cases, another employer may offer you a different job in Canada. Here is some basic information on the different options available to extend your stay in Canada.
Renewing your work permit and LMO
You can change or extend your existing work permit in Canada. Temporary foreign workers in Canada can change or renew their work permit through a Citizenship and Immigration Canada inland processing office – this means that you do not have to leave the country and apply through a visa office outside of Canada. If your employer is changing or extending your job, your employer must also change or extend the initial LMO through Service Canada.
For specific instructions on how you can apply to change or extend your work permit, see Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s webpage Working temporarily in Canada: Extending your stay. You can also download the guide Applying to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada – Worker [IMM 5553].
It is important to know that temporary foreign workers employed in jobs that require lower levels of formal training can only remain in Canada for a maximum of 24 months (regardless of the number of work permit renewals). This means that you must return to your home country for a minimum of four months before you can return to Canada. For more information, please see the answers to frequently asked questions under the low skill pilot project on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
If you are a temporary foreign worker employed in a tourism occupation that requires higher levels of formal training, there is currently no set limit on the number of work permit extensions.
Applying for Permanent Immigration
As a temporary foreign worker, you may decide that you want to immigrate to Canada on a permanent basis. There are several options for permanent immigration to Canada. However, most of these programs, such as the Skilled Worker Program, have lengthy processing times that do not make it easy for temporary foreign workers to remain in Canada while their application is being processed.
As such, temporary foreign workers and employers in the tourism sector have mainly been using immigrant-nominee programs, which have shorter processing times than other permanent immigration programs. It is important to know that each region has its own eligibility criteria and application procedures. In addition, a Canadian employer must nominate you and support your application for permanent immigration. For specific details on immigrant-nominee programs (with the exceptions of Quebec, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories), please visit the website for each province/territory.
It is important to know that temporary foreign workers employed in tourism occupations requiring higher levels of formal training can also apply for permanent immigration through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). Highly skilled temporary foreign workers are eligible for CEC if they can demonstrate two years of highly-skilled professional or technical work experience in their application. For more information, and to see if you qualify, please visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s webpage Canadian Experience Class.
Upgrading your Skills and Qualifications
In some cases you may be required to upgrade your skills and qualifications to meet the eligibility requirements set by Canada’s permanent immigration programs. Please visit our webpage on tourism training opportunities to learn more about how you can improve your employment skills and qualifications in Canada.
* The information presented here is not legal advice –it has been prepared for general information purposes and from the following sources: Construction Sector Council’s Temporary Foreign Worker Guide; Presentation by John P. Ryan, Acting CEO, CSIC, 7th Annual Tourism HR Forum, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Nov 19, 2008.
There are different types of third-party agents, such as immigration consultants, which help employers and foreign-trained workers meet the requirements of Canada's immigration programs. These organizations often perform two kinds of work: they provide information and guidance to employers and/or workers; and they help recruit qualified workers for available jobs in Canada.
Visit our webpage on third-party agents for basic information to help you understand the different types of organizations that offer these services. This is valuable information to consider before you ask (and pay) someone for advice on ways to immigrate to Canada permanently.