In order for a foreign national to work in Canada, they must be issued a work permit. There are two types of work permits: open work permits, which allow you to work anywhere, and closed work permits, also known as LMIAs, which allow you to work only with a designated employer after undergoing a labor impact assessment. Unlike open work permits, closed work permits have the restriction that you have to work in a certain place. So there are some things you need to be careful of, and sometimes you run into unexpected problems. I'd like to talk about how to deal with them in a few situations.
First, we need to understand what an LMIA is. LMIA stands for Labour Market Impact Assessment, and it's an assessment done by Employment and Social Development Canada, which is responsible for approving Canadian employers when they want to hire foreign workers. You can think of it as a process of verifying that the job and the position cannot be filled by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Once the LMIA is approved, the foreign worker is eligible for a work permit. The evaluation is based on information about the company's financial situation, salary, tasks, etc. that are not specific to the foreign worker.
The process of obtaining a work permit is then up to the foreign worker. A work permit issued through an LMIA can only be used to work with the employer that has been assessed as authorized to hire foreign workers, and only for a set number of days. Therefore, if the scope of the work permit changes, the work permit is generally no longer valid. To give you an easier example, if the company you were granted an LMIA with goes out of business, the work permit you were granted will be worthless because the scope will no longer exist. It's unfortunate, but your best bet is to find another LMIA-approved vendor and get a new work permit issued.
If the business remains the same, but the representative changes, the remedy may change based on two conditions. As long as these conditions are met, you can continue working without taking any action. First, if the employer changes, but the business remains the same, and the business itself remains in the same line of business, it's not hard to prove that it's the same business, especially if it has the same name. Second, the worker must be working under the same terms and conditions as the existing permit, which includes wages, title, job duties, and more. If all of these conditions remain the same, including the business information, then the worker can use the existing permit even if the employer changes. Conversely, if any of these conditions change, you'll need to reapply for a new work permit.
Even if you're with the same company, if your company moves and your address changes, your permit may not be valid. This is why we recommend that you talk to a representative or an expert to discuss your situation and act accordingly, because while some examiners will understand and approve changes to an existing work permit when you explain that it's the same company but the documentation has changed due to a move, others will make a different decision.
If you get a work permit through an LMIA like this, you may be a little cautious because you have to maintain your existing employment status. However, the Canadian government has a number of other safeguards in place to protect workers from unfair treatment or wrongful termination. One example is the Vulnerable Worker Open Work Permit (VWOWP). This is a special visa program in Canada that allows temporary foreign workers to seek redress and protect their safety and rights if they have been treated unfairly by an abusive employer or are in a dangerous work environment. If you're approved for a temporary visa through this program, you can work wherever you want, just like an open work permit. However, it's not something that just anyone can get approved for, and it requires clear evidence and conditions, which is why it's a good idea to get professional advice before applying.
As you can see, there are different ways to deal with unexpected situations that may arise while working on a closed work permit with an LMIA, depending on the terms and details of the permit. Generally speaking, if the information on your work permit changes, you'll need to get a new one. However, some conditions may remain the same, and there are other ways to get relief, so take a look at the details and apply them to make sure your job search in Canada goes smoothly.
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