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Children Of Temporary Foreign Workers In Alberta And Ontario Can Now Apply For Open Work Permits

by David Cohen

Working-aged dependents of Temporary Foreign Workers in Ontario and Alberta can now obtain Open Work Permits, giving them the ability to contribute to the Canadian workforce alongside their parents. On an Open Work Permit, these individuals will be able to work for any employer in Alberta or Ontario without having to undergo the usual process involved in applying for a Temporary Work Permit.

In many cases, dependent children of Temporary Foreign Workers come to Canada on either Study Permits or Visitor Visas, or apply for their own Work Permits, so as to keep the family together. In other cases, the family is split up while the Temporary Foreign Worker is in Canada. Alberta and Ontario are now giving dependent children of Temporary Foreign Workers the opportunity to join their parents and work in Canada without first needing a job offer, as part of two separate pilot projects these provinces have put into place.

Currently, a Canadian employer who wishes to hire a foreign worker must first extend a job offer to that worker, and then apply to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).

A Labour Market Opinion (LMO) is a document that HRSDC issues to employers that demonstrates that the employers temporary job offer meets the HRSDC standards and is usually necessary for Work Permit issuance. Employers must usually demonstrate that they made reasonable, but unsuccessful, efforts to hire a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident before they extended the job offer to the foreign worker. They must show that the applicant possesses the necessary skills and training for the job and that the compensation and conditions of the job are commensurate with regional standards.

With a genuine job offer and an LMO, the Temporary Foreign Worker can apply for a Work Permit that is usually issued for the duration of the employment contract.

Alberta and Ontario are allowing dependent children of Temporary Foreign Workers to avoid this process, as Open Work Permit holders can legally work in Canada without first receiving a confirmed job offer or an LMO from HRSDC.

Under these pilot projects, in effect from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, dependent children of Temporary Foreign Workers headed to, or working in, either Alberta or Ontario will be eligible to apply for Open Work Permits if certain conditions are met.

The temporary foreign worker (called the primary applicant) must:

  • Be found eligible for an employer-specific Work Permit or already be holding it;
  • Intend to work in Alberta or Ontario; and
  • Work in an occupation that falls under the A, 0 or B skill levels in HRSDCs National Occupation Classification (i.e. the occupation must be a skilled, managerial or professional occupation).

Dependent children of primary applicants may apply for Open Work Permits if they are of legal working age in Alberta (18 years of age) or Ontario (14, 15, 16, or 18 years of age, depending on the occupation). For the purposes of Canadian immigration, children are considered dependent if they are not married or in a common-law relationship, and are under the age of 22.

Eligible dependent children must apply for an Open Work Permit if they wish to work, as these permits are not automatically issued. They may apply either together with the primary applicants or later on.

The dependent childs work permit will be valid for the same time period as the primary applicants work permit, and if the primary applicants work permit is extended, the dependent childs work permit may be extended as well.

It is important to note that time period allocated for these pilot projects does not refer to the validity period of the open work permits, but rather the time period during which these work permits can be issued.

About The Author

David Cohen is senior partner at the Canadian immigration law firm of Campbell Cohen and has been practicing Canadian immigration law for almost 30 years. He graduated from Montreal's McGill University, Faculty of Law, and is a member of the Quebec and Canadian Bar Associations as well as the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Most recently, he was appointed a governor of the Fondation du Barreau du Qubec. David Cohen is managing editor of the Canadian Immigration Newsletter, a monthly publication with readership of more than 150,000 subscribers. He also moderates a web-based public discussion forum, which covers topics relating to Canadian migration and settlement.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.