Canada removes the 'four-in, four-out' rule for Temporary Foreign Workers

The Canadian government has announced the good news that it has removed the not so popular ‘four-in, four-out’ rule for Temporary Foreign Workers with immediate effect. The four-year cumulative duration rule was introduced in April 2011 and limited the time that some temporary foreign workers could work in Canada to four years. The biggest drawback of the rule was that after the four-year working period certain individuals also became ineligible for a work permit for another four years.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) allows Canadian employers to hire international workers if Canadian citizens or permanent workers are not ready, willing or able to fill the position. The TFWP was introduced to respond to labor market shortages in Canada and for an individual to be eligible for this program they are required to first obtain a temporary work permit supported by a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

However, there are certain individuals who are exempted from the four-in, four-out rule, such as those in managerial or professional positions, workers employed through an international agreement like NAFTA for example, or the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, and those exempted from an LMIA requirement.

The announcement was made on December 13, 2016, by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCullum and the Minister of Employment, Workforce, Development and Labor, Maryann Mihychuk. Minister McCullum stated that the changes were introduced following a report from the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills, and Social Development.

Minister McCullum said “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 the applications, we believe this important recommendation from the committee requires urgent action.”

More improvements to the TFWP are expected

It was also announced at the press conference that the Canadian government intends to make more meaningful changes to develop the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and turn it into a more comprehensive policy.

Low-wage work caps

The Canadian government also took the time to provide clarity on the requirements for employers in relation to low-wage workers in the country. Low-wage employers are now required to advertise positions between groups who are underrepresented in the Canadian workforce, and these include young people, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, and newcomers to Canada. The date for the implementation of these changes will be announced in due course.