TFW Transfers, Work Permit Extensions and LMIAs

by Dr. Justine Taylor

Employees from Trinidad and Tobago

If you have any workers from Trinidad and Tobago who can not return home, please let me know directly (jtaylor@ogvg.com).


NEW: Travel Updates

Guatemala Travel Requirements: Individuals can now be tested either in Canada within 72 hours of travel OR in the home country upon arrival.

The ArriveCAN App is now available in English, French or Spanish. Travelers are recommended to register with the App BEFORE flying in their home country. Employers can complete on their employees’ behalf. There is the ability to enter up to 7 workers if they are all travelling together but it is online and only in Eng/Fr. Daily health checks need to be reporting through App, online or through the phone during the 14 days initial quarantine period.  In addition, please find attached the ArriveCAN Awareness Toolkit for General Use. For more information, visit: Canada.ca/ArriveCAN

Again, the ArriveCAN mobile application is available for free on Google Play and Apple App stores and also available as an online platform.


Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program

While at this point in time, the Quarantine Act and MISTFWP only extend to Nov. 30, we expect these requirements and program to continue into the new year. I have clarified that employees who claimed under the program in 2020 will be eligible to claim again 2021 if they are coming in under a new contract (as would be typical for SAWP). However, employees who go home on vacation are not eligible to receive MISTFWP a second time.


Mandatory digital requirements for all travellers entering Canada

Please note there are mandatory daily reporting requirements for each individual in the 14 day isolation period.

As of November 21, 2020, all travellers entering Canada, including Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) will be required to submit contact and quarantine information digitally upon and after entry via the ArriveCAN app or webpage.

As of November 21, 2020, if you are flying to Canada as your destination, you must use ArriveCAN to submit your:

  • travel and contact information
  • quarantine plan (unless exempted under conditions set out in the mandatory isolation order)
  • COVID-19 symptom self-assessments

If you are travelling to Canada by land or sea, you are strongly encouraged to submit your travel information through ArriveCAN. This will speed up processing at the border and limit points of contact. Show your ArriveCAN receipt to the border services officer.

 As of November 21, 2020, all travellers, whether they travel by air, land, or sea, must provide information after their entry into Canada. You must use ArriveCAN or call 1-833-641-0343 to:

  • confirm that you have arrived at the address you provided for your quarantine or isolation location within 48 hours of your entry into Canada
  • complete daily COVID-19 symptom self-assessments during your quarantine period

NOTE: You do not have to do this if you are exempted under conditions set out in the mandatory isolation order.

For TFWs, the necessary contact and quarantine information can be entered in the ArriveCAN app or webpage by another person such as their employer.

Learn more about the new requirements and how to use the ArriveCAN app.

To our understanding as of today, FARMS will NOT be doing this on your behalf.


ESDC Guidance for the 2021 Season 

Please see the attached guidance document provided by ESDC for the 2021 season. Please note that this is a draft and the dates of implementation are subject to change, and this information is not yet available online. We will follow-up with the finalized copy when it is released.


SAWP Extensions

August 27th, 2020: Announcement from AAFC

We are pleased to inform that The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program is proceeding with the processing to allow workers to continue working beyond their end-date as identified on their employer’s LMIA and, for some workers, extend the work duration beyond 8-months for applications under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) for the 2020 Season.

As we have committed to and confirming here in writing, worker extensions are not intended to be used in lieu of employers utilizing the existing pool of source country workers that are ready to travel, in line with commitments they have made in their request for workers.  To this end, any extensions will be limited to one-month.  This recognizes the investments already made by workers and the foreign governments to prepare workers to travel.

The process is currently not available for positions located in Quebec as consultations are still ongoing. We appreciate your patience as clarification on the conditions of the Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) requires further review.  We will communicate to everyone once our review is complete.

Employers should use this step-by-step checklist to ensure that all the documents required are submitted, otherwise there will be delays in processing the request.

  1. Written request by employer for extension.
    1. Employer’s Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Business Number and legal business name
    2. Original LMIA number
    3. Extension details
      1. Name(s) of the workers to be extended
      2. Their initial date of arrival and initial work duration
      3. Extended duration and new end date of employment (not to go beyond December 15, 2020)
    4. Brief explanation of the rationale for the request
    5. Confirmation of continued full-time employment in the same position for the extended period
    6. Attestation to not exceed the maximum occupancy of approved housing.
  2. Signed consent form for each TFW to be extended (see attached)
  3. Housing Inspection Report for where the TFW will reside.
  4. Employers must send all required documentation to the Service Canada Centre SAWP processing centre

In addition:

  • A copy of the signed consent form is to be retained by the employer, TFW(s), and the Foreign Government Agent.
  • The consent form should also be sent to FARMS or at minimum email a list of worker names with their codes to farmsaccess@farms-canag.com for those who are extending the end date of their work term – from date ; to date. FARMS will process a change to the LMIA extending the date of employment. This is CRITICAL to ensuring insurance and health services are not interrupted.
  • Any employee who will exceed the 8 month employment window MUST submit an extension application using the in-Canada IMM 5710 application.  We expect that you as the employer will need to help your employees with this process. The following steps are an overview of the process
    • Employees to create an online account with IRCC.
    • Employees will need to answer a questionnaire to generate the appropriate forms. This is long and contains A LOT of personal information. All the questions can be found here.
    • Then they need to complete the IMM 5710 and supply the requested supporting documents
    • On further consideration, we do not recommend that employees complete form IMM 5476 to appoint the employer as a representative to complete the application on their behalf. This would require you to represent them on all immigration matters.
    • Employer will pay the cost of the work permit processing fee directly to IRCC and may not recover any costs related to the fee from the worker.
    • Once the form is submitted the employee will have implied status and be allowed to continue to work.
    • The employee will not be able to leave and re-enter Canada while their application is pending, only once it is approved can they re-enter
    • The employee can withdraw their application at any time

This same process (IMM 5710) would be used to extend an Ag stream work permit or to switch to visitor status. We will update as soon as we hear more from ESDC or IRCC.


How-to guides – Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have developed the attached guidelines:

  1. Guidelines for extending status and changing employers during the COVID-19 pandemic: The guidelines are for agricultural workers inside Canada on how to submit a work permit extension application and how to change employers as per the public policy that was put in place on May 12, 2020.
  2. Work permit exemption guidelines specific to business visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidelines are for how to apply if you are work permit exempt as a business visitor (after sale services in essential industries) within a COVID-19 context.

New temporary public policy will allow visitors to apply for a work permit without having to leave Canada

August 24, 2020: Visitors who are currently in Canada and have a valid job offer will be able to apply for an employer-specific work permit and, if approved, receive the permit without having to leave the country, thanks to a new public policy announced today by the Honourable Marco E.L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

This temporary policy change takes effect immediately and will benefit employers in Canada who continue to face difficulties finding the workers they need, as well as temporary residents who would like to contribute their labour and skills to Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, temporary residents who remained in Canada were encouraged to maintain valid legal status. With air travel limited around the world, some visitors to Canada have been unable to leave, while some foreign workers had to change their status to visitor because their work permit was expiring and they didn’t have a job offer to be able to apply for a new work permit. Some employers in Canada have also faced ongoing labour and skills shortages throughout this period, including those who provide important goods and services that Canadians rely on.

To be eligible, an applicant looking to benefit from this temporary public policy must

  • have valid status in Canada as a visitor on August 24, 2020 and remain in Canada
  • have a job offer
  • submit an application for an employer-specific work permit that is supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or an LMIA-exempt offer of employment, no later than March 31, 2021
  • meet all other standard admissibility criteria

This temporary public policy also provides the opportunity for applicants who meet these criteria and who had a valid work permit in the past 12 months to begin working for their new employer before their work permit application has been fully approved. To do so, they need to follow the instructions for the process described here.


Biometrics Update

Please note the following update to biometrics requirements.

August 17, 2020: Biometrics exemption for temporary residence applicants in Canada

As a temporary measure, you’re exempt from giving biometrics if you’re applying from within Canada

  • to extend your stay as a student, worker or visitor
  • to restore your status as a student, worker or visitor
  • for a work or study permit
  • for a visitor visa
  • for a temporary resident permit

This applies to all new applications as well as applications already in progress.

It applies even if

  • your application form for a work permit, study permit or visitor visa says it’s for applicants outside Canada
  • our online application system asks you to pay a biometric fee (CAN$85)

This temporary measure does not apply if you’re outside Canada.

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/biometrics.html#temporary-canada


TFW Transfers

May 12, 2020: Process allows temporary workers to get back to work quickly

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a new, streamlined work permit process allowing Temporary Foreign Workers under employer specific work permits already in Canada who have lost their jobs to get back to work quickly. Effective immediately, a new, temporary process is in now in place for workers who are already in Canada and who have secured a new job offer to transfer from one employer to another. Where supported by a labour market test, they can now get approval to start working in their new job, even while their work permit application is being fully processed. The announcement proposes that this will cut what can often take 10 weeks or more, down to 10 days or less.

To be eligible, workers must

  • be in Canada with valid status
  • have an employer-specific work permit or have been working under a work permit exemption
  • have submitted an application for a new work permit with a valid job offer under either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program

For additional details on the new process, please refer to the instructions for work permit applications for changing jobs quickly.


Work Permit Extensions

IRCC has provided the linked guidance for visitors, students and workers who are nearing the end of their work permits or whose permits have recently expired. We urge you to apply as early as possible if you need an extension.

Please see the following instructions for how to extend a work permit using paper applications rather than the online system.

How to apply:

  • To extend your workers’ work permit you must:
  • Send the application package to the Case Processing Centre in Edmonton by courier and clearly mark in large print, on the outside of the courier envelope, TL/OSS – SAWP EXTENSION. If you are applying for more than one worker, send all the applications together in one envelope with the proper identification.
    • Case Processing Centre in Edmonton
      Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
      c/o Work permits/Same employer, Station 555
      9700 Jasper Avenue NW, Suite 55
      Edmonton, AB T5J 4C3
  • Keep your courier tracking number, it may be needed by IRCC at a later date.

LMIA Processing Updates

In order to facilitate repaid access to international farm workers, temporary modifications are being made to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food-processing employers as follows:

  • For Primary Agriculture and Agri-food employers, priority processing of LMIAs and removing minimum recruitment requirements until October 31, 2020.
  • For all employers, extending the period of validity of a LMIA from 6 to 9 months, to allow employers more time to identify candidates and bring them to Canada.
  • For Low Wage stream employers, increasing the maximum duration of work permits from 1 to 2 years.
  • For Primary Agriculture employers, added flexibility regarding the requirement to provide a recent Housing Inspection Report (HIR).
    • If an employer cannot submit a recent HIR due to Coronavirus, the employer must first try to provide a satisfactory HIR obtained within the previous 3 years AND is required to provide a new HIR to the Department within the duration of the work permit issued by that LMIA.
    • If an employer cannot provide a satisfactory HIR obtained in the previous 3 years, an LMIA can be issued IF the employer provides photos of the accommodation AND is required to provide a new HIR to the Department within the duration of the work permit issued by that LMIA.
  • For all employers, temporary suspension of requirement to report minor administrative updates (e.g. – reporting lay-offs, teleworking arrangements, etc.). We are still seeking clarity on whether this includes reporting address changes for employees spending their isolation period at a different location than their eventual accommodations.
  • An accelerated name change process with IRCC (from 5 days down to 1 business day) for employers wishing to change the name of an already identified foreign worker for reasons related to COVID-19.

Please note that these temporary measures will be proactively applied to all pending LMIA applications as well as future applications received by the Department.

We strongly encourage employers and third party representatives who are registered on Job Bank to use the new LMIA Online system to submit their LMIA applications. This will accelerates the ability to assign applications Officers and to begin the assessment. Furthermore, through their online account, employers and third parties are able to obtain real-time status on the assessment of their LMIA applications.

A dedicated LMIA Online Team is available if employers require assistance: EDSC.DGOP.PTET.ContactezNous-ContactUs.TFWP.POB.ESDC@servicecanada.gc.ca

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