Visitors in Canada can apply for a work permit and request Interim Authorization to Work if they held a valid work permit in the last 12 months.
Canada has extended temporary COVID-19 measures for another year for eligible Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) holders who are in Canada and want to apply for a work permit supported by a job offer without leaving the country. These pandemic measures, originally introduced in August 2020, will now be in effect until February 28, 2023.
The public policy not only allows valid TRV holders in Canada to apply for employer-specific work permits from inside Canada, it also allows eligible visitors to start working before even receiving the work permit.
This is a temporary regulatory change as normally foreign workers who are in Canada on a TRV cannot change status without leaving the country.
Eligibility criteria for visitors applying for employer-specific work permits
In order to be eligible, a foreign national must:
- be in Canada;
- have submitted an employer-specific work permit application using the Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker [IMM 5710];
- have stayed in Canada with status since submitting the application;
- submit the application before February 28, 2023.
Interim Authorization to Work
Prior to the pandemic, if you were a TRV holder, you could not apply for a work permit from within Canada. Instead, you could submit a work permit application while in Canada to your country of origin’s visa office. If your work permit was approved, you needed to physically leave Canada and re-enter for the work permit to take effect.
Due to COVID-19 measures, people could no longer flagpole. Flagpoling is when you leave Canada and return for the purposes of activating a temporary status. As such, in August 2020 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) started allowing TRV holders to submit work permit applications to IRCC from within Canada.
Although you can apply for a work permit from within Canada, you cannot work until IRCC approves the work permit. According to the IRCC website, this can take about 132 days.
In order to address this issue, IRCC introduced what is called an “Interim Authorization to Work.” Assuming you meet the eligibility criteria, you can get this authorization quickly. It enables you to begin working while IRCC processes your work permit application. The purpose is to enable those with an employer-specific job offer to begin work immediately. It is also intended to address labour shortages given the prolonged length of time it is taking IRCC to process work permit applications submitted inside the country.
One of the reasons IRCC is prioritizing people who held a work permit in the last 12 months is to help those who may have been laid off during the pandemic get back into the labour market more quickly.
A person’s work permit application can be rejected while on an Interim Authorization, but if the work permit application is approved, Interim Authorization allows TRV holders to start working more quickly than if they had to wait for a firm approval.
Eligibility criteria for Interim Authorization
Interim Authorization is not automatic. If you’re a visitor who is applying for a work permit in Canada and held a valid work permit in the last 12 months you can ask to be allowed to work while IRCC processes your application.
To meet the eligibility criteria you must:
- be physically present in Canada when you apply;
- be a visitor with valid status when you apply for the work permit;
- if your visitor status has expired, you’ll need to restore your visitor status before you apply for a work permit;
- applied for an employer-specific work permit between August 24, 2020, and February 28, 2023; and
- have held a work permit that was valid in the 12 months before you applied for a new work permit.
It is then a two-step process to get interim authorization.
Step 1: Contact IRCC
After you apply for your work permit, fill out the IRCC Web form.
When you fill out the “Your enquiry” section, copy the text: Message to request interim authorization to work
Make sure you fill out the sections in square brackets, including the:
- work permit number (begins with a “U”);
- name of your employer; and
- title of your job.
If you applied on paper and don’t know your application number, include your courier tracking number. This will ensure IRCC can find your application.
If you have other questions, you need to fill out a new IRCC Web form.
Step 2: Wait for IRCC to contact you
You must wait for IRCC to email you to let you know that you can start working. This may take up to 30 business days, which is about six weeks.