CIC Cumulative Duration for Foreign Workers – Why April 1, 2015 Will Change Your Life (And How to Avoid it)
On April 1, 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) introduced a policy regarding maximum duration a foreign worker can work in Canada called the Cumulative Duration.
For the sake of making our readers easier to understand, we will refer to CIC Cumulative Duration as the “4-year cap” in this article.
To put it in plain words, CIC has introduced a 4-year cap on the maximum time allowed for a Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) to work in Canada. Generally speaking, once a Foreign Worker has accumulated 4 years of work, he or she will NOT be allowed to continue working in Canada for another 4 years.
Why Did CIC Introduce This Rule?
1) Protection of the Canadian Labour Market
First of all, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is meant to address the temporary need of foreign workers. These foreign workers cannot be used permanently, hence the name “Temporary” Foreign Worker Program.
2) Incentive to Obtain Canadian Permanent Residency
Secondly, prolonged employments of Temporary Foreign Workers are not beneficial to the Canadian labour force. Canadian employers should try to train and cultivate local workers instead of relying the Temporary Foreign Worker Program as a permanent solution.
This is also why the Canadian government encourages Temporary Foreign Workers to apply for Canadian permanent residency. For example, on ESDC’s LMIA application forms, ESDC accepts the sponsoring of a Temporary Foreign Worker’s permanent residency as an acceptable mechanism to meet the needs of the Canadian labour force.
What You Need to Know as an Employer
As an employer, you want to know the total time a foreign worker has worked in Canada. Not knowing this key information can interrupt your plan and affect your business down the road.
Mike, a foreign worker, has worked in Canada for 3 years since April 1, 2011. When Mike tries to apply for a new work permit valid for 2 years for an occupation that is not listed in the “exceptions”, the maximum duration of the new work permit will be for 1 year.
What Kind of Experience is Counted?
When it comes to working in Canada, the majority of the works require a work permit. There are 23 work permit exempt categories, as per Section 186 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
Basically, all work performed in Canada since April 1, 2011 counts towards a foreign worker’s 4-year cap, whether the job required a work permit or not.
The list of countable experience is rather exhaustive and it includes:
- Work done as a volunteer
- Work done as a self-employed person
- Work done under a specific National Occupation Code (NOC)
- Work done under implied status
- Work done under open work permit, such as the post-graduate work permit (PGWP), and working holiday work permit holders
- Unpaid Work
Exception for Students Who Worked During F/T Studies
If you are a student, any work performed during a period in which you were authorized to study on a full-time basis in Canada is NOT counted towards the 4-year cap. Examples: Co-ops, internships, and etc.
Who Does This Rule Apply To?
This rule applies to everyone:
- Foreign nationals in Canada looking to start new jobs
- Foreign nationals in Canada looking to change jobs
- Foreign nationals in Canada looking to extend the duration of their work
The List of Exceptions:
- Workers seeking to work in NOC 0 or A occupations (important: NOC B is not exempted);
- Workers who have applied for permanent residence and have received approval in principle;
- Workers who are employed in Canada under an international agreement, such as NAFTA, the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), humanitarian and self-support based work permits, and work permits under Regulation 205; and
- Workers who are exempt from holding a work permit under Regulation 186.
- The time foreign nationals work in the list of exceptions below will STILL COUNT toward the 4-year cap.
- However, when foreign nationals apply for a work permit for these exceptions, they will be able to work beyond 4 years.
Gaps in Employment
Periods not worked which occurred after April 1, 2011, and during the validity period of any work authorizations issued after April 1, 2011, may be factored into the calculation of the accumulated total. However, only gaps in employment of one consecutive month or more will be considered.
When the Clock Resets to Zero
A temporary foreign worker who spends four consecutive years either:
- a) outside of Canada, or
- b) in Canada but not working (as a visitor/student legaly)
may apply for a WP and can start accumulating another four years of work in Canada.
It is not necessary for a temporary foreign worker to have worked a full 4 years before the 4-year period of not working in Canada can begin. For example, whether a TFW has accumulated one (1) year, or even three (3) years and 11 months of work in Canada, once a period of four (4) years has elapsed where the TFW has not worked in Canada, the “clock” resets to zero.
We have included the following chart so our readers can understand the concept of the 4-year cap or Cumulative Duration easier. The word “FN” stands for Foreign Nationals, which, in this context can be understood as foreign workers.
Are you a foreign worker looking at ways to extend your employment in Canada or to stay here permanently?
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