Temporary Foreign Worker Program Undergoes Major Changes

December 14, 2016

By Canada Immigration News |

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that, effective immediately, the four-year cumulative duration rule will no longer apply to temporary foreign workers in Canada. This rule, also known as the “four-in, four-out” rule, meant that certain foreign workers became ineligible to work in Canada for four years upon completion of four years of work in Canada.

The rule was originally put in place by the previous Conservative government in April, 2011. At that time, the government stated that the provision was implemented primarily to prevent situations in which workers remain in Canada for such a prolonged period that they begin to lose ties with their country of origin without gaining permanent residence in Canada.

However, the rule soon became controversial, affecting not just workers themselves but also families, employers, and communities who had established economic and social ties. In many cases, foreign workers were unable to become eligible to pursue permanent residence, effectively meaning that they would have to cease working upon completion of four years of work and leave the country.

Preventing hardship and instability

On December 13, 2016, IRCC, together with the Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development, stated that it was immediately ending the four-in, four-out provision ‘in order to prevent unnecessary hardship and instability for both workers and employers.’

The statement added, ‘for those temporary foreign workers who do not currently have access, the government is committed to further developing pathways to permanent residency so that eligible applicants are able to more fully contribute to Canadian society. Work on this issue continues.’

“In many ways, the four-year rule put a great deal of uncertainty and instability on both temporary workers and employers. We had the sense that it was an unnecessary burden on applicants and employers, and also on officers who process applications,” said Immigration Minister, John McCallum.

The four-year rule did not apply to all foreign workers in Canada. Exemptions included workers in managerial (National Occupational Classification 0) and professional (NOC A) positions, workers in Canada under NAFTA, and workers with a provincial nomination certificate.

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