Family of some temporary foreign workers now eligible for Canadian work permits under temporary measure

Edana Robitaille
Published: January 30, 2023

Starting today, January 30, family members of some temporary foreign workers (TFWs) will be eligible for work permits.

Immigration minister Sean Fraser said that temporarily extending work permits to family members of principal applicants in the temporary foreign worker program (TFWP) and International Mobility Program (IMP). This measure will help Canada combat chronic labour shortages.

Under the new policy, eligibility for a work permit is extended to those who meet the following criteria:

  • They are the spouse, common-law partner, or dependent child of a work permit holder who:
  • They are the spouse, common-law partner or dependent child of an economic class permanent resident applicant who holds a work permit.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

Spouses, common-law partners and dependents of workers in a TEER 4 or 5 job under the low-wage stream of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and the Agricultural Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are not eligible to apply at this time.

New permits will make it easier to integrate

Until the measure took effect today, work permits were only available to the spouses and family members of principal applicants in high-skilled occupations. By temporarily issuing work permits to the spouses, dependents, and common-law partners of TFWs, the government hopes to take some of the stress off workers by improving financial stability and making it easier for families to stay together and integrate into their communities.

Between January and October 2022, Canada issued over 645,000 work permits. This is nearly four times more than the 163,000 issued over the same period in 2021.

The measure will last for the next two years and includes working-age children, 16 and older, of principal applicants of all skill levels. This includes families of workers in healthcare, trades, and hospitality. It is estimated that this program will make it possible for the families of more than 200,000 foreign workers to enter Canada’s workforce.

“Everywhere I go, employers across the country continue to identify a lack of workers as their biggest obstacle,” said the minister last December in Edmonton. “Today’s announcement will help employers find the workers they need to fill their labour gaps by expanding work permits to family members at all skill levels, resulting in family members of over 200,000 foreign workers being able to work in Canada. Our government is going to continue helping employers overcome labour shortages, while also supporting the well-being of workers and uniting their families.”

Measure will roll out in three phases

The temporary measure will be implemented in 3 phases to ensure its successful implementation. Dates for the phases two and three have yet to be announced:

  • Phase 1 will enable family members of workers coming to Canada through the high-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program to apply for an open work permit.
  • Phase 2 aims to expand the measure to the family members of workers from the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, following consultations.
  • Phase 3 will include consultation with agricultural partners and stakeholders to assess operational feasibility for expanding the measure to family members of agricultural workers.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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