Guide for Migrant Workers: Living and Working in Prince Edward Island

Status, Work Permits, and Immigration

Status – Employer-specific work permit

As a Temporary Foreign Worker in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), your status in Canada comes from an Employer-specific Work Permit. This type of permit authorizes you to work for a single employer, who is named on your work permit. Your work permit also includes information that specifies how long you can work in Canada, and, sometimes, the location where you are authorized to work.

Work Permit Application

You can apply for an employer-specific work permit online or by mail. Applying online is typically faster than applying by mail. The approval of the work permit can take a few months. You can check the waiting time on the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. When you make your application you may also need to give your biometrics, that is fingerprints and a photo. More information

Your employer in Canada will also submit an application to be able to hire you as a Temporary Foreign Worker. For their part, your employer will obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) through Employment and Social Development Canada/Service Canada, which allows them to hire workers through the TFWP. Before you submit your work permit application, your prospective employer must provide the copy of the LMIA with your job offer letter or contract.

Some LMIAs are open, which means that the employer has a positive LMIA and can then choose the worker they want. Most LMIAs are named, which means that the employer has included the name of the worker in the LMIA application. When a named LMIA is approved, it can only be used to hire the named worker.

Work Permit Renewal

Before Expiry of Current Work Permit

You can renew your work permit on the IRCC website if your employer has a positive LMIA. You must pay a fee to renew your permit. More information

It is important to apply for a new work permit before the current permit expires because you can continue to work under the same conditions, called Implied Status while your application for renewal is being processed.

If your employer has applied for a new LMIA, but it has not yet been approved, you should ask your employer for the LMIA application number, and include this in your renewal application. If you do not yet have the new LMIA application number, use the number of the previous LMIA and include a letter of explanation. You must send the new positive LMIA number as soon as it is available because your application will be incomplete until this information is submitted. If your application is incomplete for too long, your work permit application will be denied. For more information, review the IRCC website, or contact the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada.

After Expiry of Current Work Permit

If your work permit has expired or your application to renew your work permit was denied, you have 90 days to apply for Restoration of Status. You must pay a restoration fee plus the new work permit application fee (more information). You will also need to submit your employer’s LMIA with your application. While your application for Restoration of Status is being processed, you cannot legally work, and you should remain in Canada until processing is complete. It is much faster to apply to renew your work permit online than by mail. In addition, if you have a job offer and LMIA from a different employer, you can change jobs.

Temporary Residence Visa (TRV)

If your work permit is about to expire, and you cannot apply for a new work permit, you might be able to extend your stay in Canada through a Temporary Residence Visa (TRV). The TRV is for people who are taking a vacation in Canada, and it is valid for 6 months. You must pay the application fee, and you must show that you have enough money in your bank account to support yourself while in Canada. The amount of money needed is not specified, but a minimum of $5,000 or more is best. It is helpful if you have a friend to stay with while in Canada, who can write a letter of support stating that they will provide your accommodation and help with other living expenses.

While you are on a visitor visa (TRV), you will not have access to PEI health care coverage or EI benefits, but you will be able to travel freely in Canada. Once you find another job with a positive LMIA, you can change your status back to worker. For more information about how to apply for a TRV, visit the IRCC website and contact PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada.

If you obtain advice from or work with an agency it is very important to ask what fees they will charge before you proceed. You must include a Use of a Representative form (IMM 5476) with your application (more information). You must pay the current fee for renewing the work permit plus the restoration fee if your prior permit was already expired.

If an agency is charging fees that far exceed the prices mentioned above, you should consider looking for another agency. You can contact the Canadian Embassy in your country to inquire about the legitimacy of an agency before you begin the process of applying to work in Canada. Alternatively, if applying for a permit renewal while in PEI, you may contact a community organization, such as the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada to help with your work permit application free of charge.

Changing Employers

You can change employers, and your current employer is not allowed to penalize you for seeking a new job. However, you will need to get a new work permit for a new employer, which can take time.

To change employers:

  • You must find a new employer
  • Your new employer must obtain a positive LMIA
  • You must obtain a new work permit

Once your new work permit is approved, you can begin working for your new employer. If you wish to have assistance with this process, contact the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada for help. If you leave your job for any reason, and you still have a valid work permit for your old employer, you can stay in Canada until your work permit expires.

If you are being abused by your employer, you can apply for an open work permit for vulnerable workers. More information

Cap on Proportion of Low-Wage Positions

For any temporary foreign workers hired below the median wage of a province, employers must limit their proportion in the workforce to 10%. Prior to June 2014, employers were asked to limit their proportion of low-wage workers to 20%, while any temporary foreign workers hired before that time could remain as employees.

Exemptions

Low wage TFWs can make up more than 10% of the total workforce when:

  • Businesses have fewer than 10 employees, nationally
  • Low-wage positions in seasonal industries that do not go beyond 180 calendar-days.

Note: an exemption can be used only once per work location during an application period. For example, 2018 applications received between January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018, and 2019 applications received between January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019.

Study

While working in the TFWP in Canada, you can enroll in non-credit courses that last fewer than 6 months. You cannot take academic, professional, or vocational courses that lead to a diploma or degree without a study permit. However, you can take online courses without a study permit.

Learn more about applying for a study permit on the IRCC website.

Permanent Residence

There are two possible routes to permanent residency for Temporary Foreign Workers in the Low-Skilled Stream: The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP). Both programs require the support of your employer.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

The Critical Workers Stream (more information) of the PEI Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is a pathway for Temporary Foreign Workers in jobs classified as intermediate skill NOC skill level D or C. The PEI government website names several jobs that are prioritized, but any worker in a low-skill job can apply. You can also find this information from the Labour Impact Category Immigration Guide from the PEI office of Immigration. More information

Eligibility

  • You have NOC skill level D or C; truck driver, customer service representative, labourer, food and beverage server, or housekeeping attendant.
  • You have a full-time, long-term (permanent or two years) job offer from a PEI employer.
  • You have already worked a minimum of 6 months full-time for the PEI employer.
  • You have a valid work permit.
  • You can attend an interview at the immigration office, if needed.
  • You have a minimum education that is equivalent to a Canadian high school diploma.
  • You have completed a language test from an IRCC approved institute, within the past two years with a minimum score of CLB/NCLC 4 (cost of $310).
  • You are between 21 and 59 years of age.
  • You have at least two years of full-time work experience or relevant education within the past five years.
  • You have enough money to pay for costs of immigration, travel to Canada, and for your family to become established in PEI.
  • You can show that you plan to stay in Canada.
  • You have a Needs Assessment and Settlement Plan through the PEIANC. More information

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP)

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) is a five-year program that began in 2017, available to workers in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. AIPP allows workers classified as intermediate skill (NOC skill level C), to apply for permanent residency. There is a helpful infographic and Step by Step Guide on the IRCC website. More information

Eligibility

  • You are Endorsed for Permanent Residency by your employer.
  • You have a full-time, permanent job offer, or a seasonal job offer of more than 1,560 hours per year and the job is classified as NOC Skill Level C - intermediate skill level.
  • You have high school or equivalent education, and/or job-specific training.
  • You have worked full time in an NOC level C job in the past 3 years, anywhere in the world.
  • You have enough money to pay for costs of immigration, travel to Canada, and for your family to become established in PEI.
  • You completed a language test from an IRCC approved institute, within the past two years with a minimum score of CLB/NCLC (cost of $310).
  • You can show that you plan to stay in Canada.
  • You have a Needs Assessment and Settlement Plan through the PEIANC. More information

Current Fees

Work permit application - $155
Work permit renewal (extension) - $155
Restoration of status - $200
Temporary Residence Visa (TRV) - $200

Any changes to the fees will be posted on the IRCC website.

PEI Government

Prince Edward Island Government

Provincial Nominee Program

Critical Workers Stream
Labour Impact Category Immigration Guide

Acknowledgments

Cooper Institute thanks the individuals and institutions that provided information for the production of this document. This Guide was made possible through the generous support of the Law Foundation of Prince Edward Island. While financially supported by the Law Foundation of Prince Edward Island, the findings of this research do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Special credit is due to the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) whose comprehensive migrant worker guides have served as inspiration for this one.

This is an updated version of our 2016 Guide for Migrant Workers and covers some of the key issues that affect migrant workers in PEI as of July 2020.