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Know Your Rights: Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW)

Ginette Marcoux | Special to the Fitzhugh

Q. Are the visas of your TFW employees still valid? 

A. We have seen a number of TFW’s requesting assistance over the past few weeks because their work permits are about to expire or have expired. We encourage employers and workers to check permits to make sure they know when visas are expiring and to take the necessary steps to renew their visas. Our new TFW Support Worker, Marta Fernandez is able to help with these applications.    

Q. Can I keep working if my permit expires? How do I prove this to my employer? 

A. Yes, if you applied to extend or change your work permit before your work permit expired, you are authorized to work under the same conditions until Immigration Canada processes your application. For example, if you have an employer-specific work permit, you must still work for the employer named on that permit. If your employer needs proof you can keep working, there are documents you can show them. 

Q. My work permit expired and I did not apply to extend it. Can I stay and keep working in Canada?

A. You can apply to restore your work permit in the first 90 days after it expires. If you do this, you can stay in Canada until further instructions, but you must stop working until you receive your restored work permit. There is no guarantee that your application will be approved. 

Otherwise, you must leave Canada right away when your work permit expires. If you do not leave, you could be deported and will need permission from an immigration officer to come back. 

Q. What can happen if I work in Canada illegally? 

A. Working without a visa is by all means illegal. Any foreign national cannot work if he or she does not have a work permit. Illegal workers will face very grim circumstances if caught doing work illegally. The Immigration Board’s Immigration Division will hold a hearing where you will testify. If you are found guilty, then the authorities will declare you inadmissible to the country and you will be deported immediately. An exclusion order will be published in your name, which will prevent you from further admission into the country for a period of time. 

Q. Are there penalties for employers that hire undocumented workers? 

A. According to Immigration Canada, employers have an obligation to ensure that the people they are employing are lawfully permitted to work in Canada. An employer found guilty of the offence of employing a person without a work permit can have severe repercussions. An employer convicted of a summary offence is subject to a fine of up to $100,000 per violation and a temporary or permanent ban from hiring temporary workers through the TFW program or the International Mobility Program. 

The Government of Alberta has a Temporary Foreign Worker Hotline that you can call for any concerns: 1-877-944-9955

TFW’s needing in person assistance are encouraged to visit our Centre at 63 Patricia St. Call Marta for an appointment today at 780-852-4418 ext. 8.

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