Alberta is taking steps to help vulnerable foreign workers

Shelby Thevenot
Published: March 13, 2020

Alberta is facilitating access to one of the province’s pathways to permanent residence for vulnerable foreign workers.

Temporary foreign workers who have been issued an open work permit by the federal government because they are experiencing abuse or at risk of abuse at their job may be eligible to apply to the Alberta Opportunity Stream (AOS).

Foreign nationals and their families who hold a Vulnerable Workers Open Work Permit (VWOWP) will now be exempt from needing a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to be eligible for the AOS.

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A positive LMIA is often necessary for the AOS. Employers frequently need to complete an LMIA to support a foreign worker’s application. It shows that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job.

Many Canadian business leaders are calling for reforms to the LMIA process because it can be difficult and expensive for employers to undertake.

It is often preferable for employers and immigrants to have the option of bypassing the LMIA process.

The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) announced these changes on March 13, specifying that vulnerable workers must also meet all other AOS criteria to be nominated.

Alberta Opportunity Stream eligibility requirements

AOS candidates must have an eligible work permit, and have qualifying work experience in an eligible occupation in Alberta at the time of applying.

The VWOWP is now considered a valid LMIA exempt work permit under the AOS, along with international trade agreements, work transfers, International Experience Canada, or Mobilité Francophone. Otherwise, AOS candidates need a positive LMIA, or a Post Graduation Work Permit from an eligible Alberta post-secondary institution.

Most occupations under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill levels are eligible under the AINP, as long as they are not on the list of ineligible occupations.

Candidates also need to demonstrate a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of at least five for a skilled occupation with a NOC level of 0, A, or B or four in a semi-skilled or unskilled occupation with a NOC level of C, or D.

A high school education from the country of origin is also required, among other eligibility criteria.

What to do if you are being abused or at risk of abuse

If you are in immediate danger call 9-11 or local police.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offers a work permit to vulnerable workers and their families who are being abused or at risk of being abused at work.

The government’s webpage prompts VWOWP applicants to create electronic documents for their application by using a scanner or taking pictures. They offer an instruction guide for applying for the work permit from inside Canada, as well as types of documents to submit for evidence supporting abuse claims.

After gathering necessary documents, the next step is to create an account to apply online. If it is impossible to apply online, the government says to go to the closest IRCC office or contact client support.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

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