Losing a Job in Canada Because of COVID-19 as an Immigrant

By Zainab Jamal May 11, 2020 4 min. read
Lost a Job in Canada as an Immigrant

Coronavirus has undoubtedly taken the world by storm and during these unprecedented times, it is prudent to know your Canadian immigration options. Coronavirus has affected all our lives; however, foreign nationals may feel especially vulnerable because their legal immigration status may also be at stake. Understandably, many do not find this an ideal time for travel and if you navigate through your immigration options adequately, there are options for remaining in Canada. It is important to remember; you are not alone in figuring out the best route!

Step 1: Understand your work permit

A closed work permit allows you to work in Canada with certain conditions in place. These are commonly known as, employer specific work permits which restricts the work conditions of the foreign national including, who you work for and the location of your employment. On the contrary, an open work permit allows the foreign national to obtain employment in Canada for almost any employer, any occupation and any location.

Step 2: Understand the Law

Avoid inadmissibility
Section 41(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states, “a person is inadmissible for failing to comply with the IRPA. In the case of a foreign national, through an act of omission which contravenes, directly or indirectly, a provision of the IRPA.” This applies to foreign nationals who continue to work after their status becomes invalid, sometimes inadvertently. Therefore, it is essential to know your options beforehand in order to avoid being inadmissible to Canada for non-compliance with the IRPA.
Act before work permit becomes invalid
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations state that “a work permit becomes invalid when it expires or when a removal order that is made against the permit holder becomes enforceable.” If the foreign national is on a closed work permit, this means that they can stay on their current status as long as it remains valid but cannot work for another employer unless they receive a new work permit. Termination does not invalidate the foreign national’s work permit.

Step 3: Understand your options

If you have lost your job, you may have the option to change conditions or extend your status. This means you may be able to extend your work permit, apply for a completely new work permit or change your status to a visitor or student.

If your work permit has not expired?

The first thing to do is act fast: you must try to act before your current work permit expires. If you apply to renew or change your status before your current status expires, you will obtain implied status until a decision on your new application is finalized. The foreign national benefits from remaining in Canada under the conditions of the original work permit pending the decision of their new application.

If your work permit has already expired?

There are still options even if your current status has expired as you can apply for restoration of status within 90 days of your current status expiring. However, you cannot continue to work or study pending
the decision under a restoration of status application. And, you do not benefit from obtaining implied status during a restoration period.

Step 4: Understand your other immigration applications

Do you have a Permanent Residence application underway?

Depending on the type of permanent residence application you have applied for, you may have the option to apply for a bridging open work permit. A bridging open work permit is a way to allow foreign
nationals who are currently working in Canada to extend their work permit while their application for permanent residence is being processed. If you were already on a valid work permit, a bridging open work permit will allow you keep working while you await the results of your permanent residence application.

Are you an international student working in an essential service to fight COVID-19?

“Immigrants, temporary foreign workers and international students are making important contributions as frontline workers in health care and other essential service sectors. We know and value their efforts and sacrifices to keep Canadians healthy and ensure the delivery of critical goods and services.” – The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

In order to assist in combatting COVID-19, international students who are allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session have had this restriction temporarily removed if they are working in an essential service such as health care, critical infrastructure or the supply of food or other critical goods. Canada understands that there are many talented international students who are nearing the end of
their studies in health and emergency service-related programs and can assist us to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. As such, Canada is removing barriers for international students working in essential services to
combat COVID-19.

If you meet the requirements of this temporary program, you may be able to help meet the challenges of this pandemic.