As of April 1, 2015, certain Canadian work permits are limited to a maximum validity period of four (4) years.  Employees with work permits covered by the rule will not be eligible for an extension beyond the total of four (4) years spent inside Canada. Further, employees will be eligible for a new period of authorization only after residing outside Canada for at least four (4) years.

The new rule applies primarily to Work Permits issued for lower-skilled positions, as defined by the Canadian National Occupational Classification Codes, and to Work Permits issued pursuant to the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process.

Exceptions to the four-year maximum validity period include work permits for:

  • Managerial level (NOC 0) or professional level occupations (NOC A) based on the Canadian National Occupational Classification Codes
  • Individuals who have applied and reached certain benchmarks in the Permanent Residence process
  • Individuals employed pursuant to free trade agreements (NAFTA and agreements with Chile, Peru, Colombia, and South Korea)
  • Dependents of highly-skilled foreign workers
  • Applicants for reciprocal benefits

If an individual does not meet one of the exceptions above, it may be possible to extend the Work Permit beyond the four (4) year period by recapturing any time spent outside of Canada during the initial four-year period of authorization, or to timely apply for Canadian Permanent Residence. Employers should take the implementation of this four-year limitation into account when planning for longer term transfers of foreign nationals to Canada.