Canada vows to prevent migrant worker abuse by employers
September 8, 2020
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.
You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.
Examples of abuse that you should report in your application include:
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.
A temporary migrant worker abuse open work permit lets you work for any employer in Canada, except for one that:
regularly offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages
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.
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 guidebefore 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”.
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
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.