Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced some significant changes to the temporary foreign worker program. Effective immediately, the four-year cumulative duration rule will no longer apply to temporary foreign workers that are living in Canada. This rule, more colloquially known as the “four-in, four-out” rule, meant that certain foreign workers who had been working in Canada for four years, became in-eligible to work for in Canada for the next four years. This rule was put in place to prevent situations where the foreign workers continues to work for such prolonged period of time in Canada that he/she loses touch with their own home country and at the same time not being a Permanent Resident of Canada. 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.

However, this rule caused more hardship than benefit , since it started affecting not just the workers themselves but also their families, employers, communities where they lived and established social ties . Foreign workers , who were unable to get Canadian PR, had to abruptly leave work and return back home after completion of their four years

On December 13, 2016, IRCC, together with the Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development, said that it was immediately ending the four-in, four-out provision ‘in order to prevent unnecessary hardship and instability for both workers and employers.’ It further stated that “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.’
Honorable minister for Immigration, Jihn McCallum , further stated “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”

More to come

From the tone and tenor of this change, it is clear that the Government plans further changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), thus making employers aware that it plans to bring in provisions that would ensure under-represented groups in the Canadian workforce have first access to job opportunities. These groups include youth, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, and newcomers to Canada. Keep your ears to the ground for more on this.

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