A ‘Four Year Cap’ previously applicable to many foreign workers working in Canada has been eliminated, allowing much greater flexibility in the duration of international assignments.
The ‘Four Year Cap’ rule, implemented in 2011, provided that, subject to a number of exceptions, foreign workers could remain in Canada as temporary workers for a maximum of four years (including any renewals). Thereafter, they would be required to leave Canada. They would then be ineligible for a further temporary work permit for a further four years after their departure.
There were a number of exceptions to this rule including workers whose work permits are based on international treaties (such as NAFTA), or intra-company transfers, but unless such an exception was available, the 4 year rule would come into play. This created hardship for many employers and employees, and in many cases where a person did not qualify for or want permanent residence, this would seem to mean a ‘lose-lose’ for the employer and employee.
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada will continue to maintain various other caps, relating to both time and other restrictions. In terms of time, for instance, caps remain with regard to intra-company transfers, where managerial level employees are subject to a 7-year cap, and specialized knowledge employees to a 5-year cap. Other restrictions, such as those designed to ensure that Canadians are hired in priority, including caps on the proportion of low-wage workers within a company, remain in place. These are just a few examples.
What does this mean for employers?
Businesses wanting to post employees to Canada on a temporary basis will be relieved by the greater flexibility offered by the lifting of the ‘Four Year Cap’. However, employers must still be aware of the numerous other caps and restrictions which can impact foreign workers in Canada.
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