migrant worker abuse

Canada vows to prevent migrant worker abuse by employers

Canada has announced a new measure to prevent and protect against migrant worker abuse by their employers. Migrant workers in Canada on employer-specific work permits who are experiencing abuse, or who are at risk of abuse, in the context of their employment in Canada may be eligible to receive a temporary open work permit that is exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, per section 207.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), to work with any other employer.

In announcing the migrant worker abuse open work permit measure (Open work permits for vulnerable workers) Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) states the following objectives of the new migrant worker abuse measure:

  • to provide migrant workers who are experiencing abuse, or who are at risk of abuse, with a distinct means to leave their employer
    • This is done by opening the possibility of obtaining a work authorization for other employers.
  • to mitigate the risk of migrant workers in Canada who are leaving their job and working irregularly (that is, without authorization) as a result of abusive situations
  • to facilitate the participation of migrant workers who are experiencing abuse, or who are at risk of abuse, in any relevant inspection of their former employer, recruiter or both
  • to help migrant workers in assisting authorities, if required (noting that this is not required for the issuance of the open work permit), by reducing the perceived risk and fear of work permit revocation and removal from Canada

What is migrant worker abuse?

IRCC states that any behaviour that scares, controls or isolates you could be abuse. Abuse can be physical, sexual, financial or mental.

migrant worker abuse


Examples of abuse that you should report in your application include:

  • physical harm
  • forcing you to work in a way that’s unsafe or puts your health at risk
  • unsafe or unsanitary living conditions in employer-provided housing
  • sexual touching that you did not agree to
  • making unwanted sexual comments to you
  • controlling where you can go
  • stealing from you
  • stopping you from seeing friends or co-workers
  • taking some or all of the money you are paid
  • threats, insults and intimidation
  • forcing you to commit fraud

If you’re being abused or at risk of being abused in any of the manners above in relation to your job in Canada, you may be eligible for an open work permit for vulnerable workers.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.

A temporary migrant worker abuse open work permit lets you work for any employer in Canada, except for one that:


This work permit helps protect your rights as a worker in Canada by helping you leave an abusive situation to find a new job. However, it’s a temporary solution until you find another employer, and:

  • has an expiry date, and
  • can’t be renewed

If you’re approved for this work permit, it should give you enough time to find a new employer and apply for a new work permit. You must apply for another work permit before this temporary migrant worker abuse open work permit expires if you want to stay and work in Canada.

migrant worker abuse

Who can apply for migrant worker abuse open work permit?

You can apply if you:

  • are inside Canada
    • applications made at a port of entry won’t be accepted
  • have a valid employer-specific work permit
    • this is a work permit that has your employer’s name on it and isn’t expired (or you applied to renew it before it expired)
  • are being abused or at risk of being abused in relation to your job in Canada


There are no fees for this work permit.

How to apply for migrant worker abuse open work permit?

You must apply online. Take the following steps:

Step 1: Make sure you have what you need

To apply online, you’ll need a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of your documents.

Step 2: Read the instruction guide

Even if you apply online, you should read the IRCC instruction guide before you complete your application. The guide will explain how to complete each field on the form.

Step 3: Support your application with evidence

To support your application, include as much evidence as you can with your application. You can upload documents as evidence in the “Client Information” field under “Optional Documents”.

There is only one “Client Information” field to upload all of your evidence. You have to combine all your evidence in 1 file and upload it together. Find out how to upload multiple documents into 1 field.

One document that you must include as evidence is a letter to describe your situation and the abuse you’re facing or at risk of facing.

Other types of evidence could include:

  • a letter, statement or report from an abuse support organization, medical doctor, healthcare professional, etc.
  • a sworn statement, also known as an affidavit, from yourself
  • a copy of an official report you submitted to an enforcement agency, such as a police or Canada Border Services Agency report
  • a copy of an official complaint submitted to a provincial enforcement agency, such as an Employment Standards Branch
  • victim impact statement
  • email messages
  • photos showing injuries or working conditions
  • witness testimony

The above list includes examples of evidence. You may have other types of evidence.

Step 4: Create your online account or sign in

You need an account to apply online. You can use your account to:

  • submit your application
  • upload documents
  • check your application status

Create an account or sign in now

Step 5: Get to the application

After you sign in to your account, follow these steps to get to the migrant worker abuse open work permit application:

  • Under “Start an application”, choose “Apply to come to Canada
  • Choose “Visitor visa, study and/or work permit
  • Answer the questions in the online tool
  • For question 1 “What would you like to do in Canada?“, choose “Work
  • When asked “What is your current country/territory of residence?”, choose “Canada
  • When asked “Do you have a written job offer?”, choose “No
  • When asked “Does this situation apply to you? You have a valid employer-specific work permit and are being abused or there is a risk of being abused in relation to your job in Canada?”, choose “Yes
  • When you get to the page that says “Your results”, choose “Open work permit for vulnerable workers

NOTE: Fingerprints and photo (biometrics)

As of December 3, 2019, most people applying from inside Canada must give their fingerprints and photo (biometrics). However, because you may be in a vulnerable situation, we won’t ask you to give your biometrics when you apply. If an officer determines you need to give your biometrics, they’ll ask you to give them after you apply.


When you apply online, you’ll be asked if you’ve given your biometrics for an application in the past.

  • If you’ve given them in the past, choose “Yes”.
  • If you haven’t given them in the past, choose “No”.
    • When asked about the fee, choose the option that says you’re exempt from paying the fee.
    • By choosing this option, you won’t be asked to pay the fee later in the application process.

When you’ve answered all the questions, you’ll get your document checklist. It includes the form “Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker (IMM5710)”. This is the work permit form you need to fill out.

If you can’t apply online

You can submit a paper application in any of these situations:

  • you can’t apply online because of a disability
  • there’s a problem with our online application system

Go to the IRCC office closest to you or contact the Client Support Centre for more information on how to apply.

After you apply for migrant worker abuse open work permit

After IRCC has received your application at the local office, the will contact you within 5 business days to tell you what to do next.

IRCC may ask you to do an interview.

After you get your migrant worker abuse open work permit, IRCC may contact your employer to perform an inspection. IRCC won’t contact them for any other reason.


IRCC inspects employers to make sure they follow the rules when hiring temporary workers through the International Mobility Program or the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Inspections are meant to protect temporary workers.

If you’re approved for the migrant worker abuse open work permit for vulnerable workers, IRCC may ask you to give information to help them inspect your former employer. You don’t have to give us information. The choice is yours.

The inspection can happen at any time after you get your open work permit.

Open work permit for your family members

Family members who came with you to Canada may also be eligible for the migrant worker abuse open work permit if your application is approved. They must complete their own application but may submit it together with your application.

See also Guidance on abuse in the context of COVID-19

Related: Jobs in Canada for Foreigners

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.