Finally, A Reprieve (for some) From the Four Year Canadian Work Permit Cap


Who is Impacted

Alberta employers whose employees are seeking permanent residence through the Alberta Provincial Nominee Program.


On April 1, 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced that subject to various exceptions, work permits in Canada would be capped at four years. Thereafter, workers would need to be absent for a further four years before they might work in Canada again. CIC said at that time that the provision was not retrospective; as such, the first possible date that someone could hit the four year cap was April 1, 2015. There are therefore people at this moment who are starting to be caught by this provision, and whose work permits will not be renewable.

What Has Changed

In what seems like a ‘common sense revolution’, however, CIC has recognized that there needs to be some adjustment to this pronouncement, and has made some modification.

Specifically, CIC has recognized that there are many well-qualified foreign workers who have applied for permanent residence under the Alberta Provincial Nominee Program (AINP). However, the AINP is currently taking some 29 months to process applications. Therefore, it may well come to pass that a foreign worker in Alberta who has applied under the AINP will need to leave in the interim, caught between the four year cap and the 29 month processing period.

CIC has therefore allowed an exception to the four year cap, and announced the ‘AINP Pre-Nomination Initiative Work Permit’ (AINP-PNIWP). This will allow some people to bridge the gap to permanent residence finalization, even though they are in Canada beyond four years.

Program Requirements

To qualify for this kind of work permit, the following conditions must be met.

The worker must:

  • be working on an International Mobility Worker work permit (i.e. not based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment)
  • have applied to the AINP before July 1, 2014
  • be currently in Canada with a valid work permit set to expire in the 2015 calendar year (caution must be exercised in that if an expiry period passes before the AINP-PNIWP application is made, the person concerned will lose all right to use this program)
  • have applied for an “initiative” work permit for work in Alberta with the same employer
  • have a letter from the AINP indicating that Alberta intends to nominate the worker, and
  • have created an Express Entry profile if they have a NOC B position

No further guidance has been provided, but if the logic follows through, it may be reasonable to believe that such a program would be renewed into the following year or years.

What you should do

If your organization has a foreign worker who meets the above criteria, you and he/she should take action to secure the necessary documentation and lodge the relevant application as appropriate. Failure to do so, could lead to a foreign worker being put back in the black hole between the four year cap and the AINP permanent residence finalization


Since 2011, Canadian immigration laws, regulations, and policies have been changed on countless occasions – and always to make them harsher and more restrictive. This seems to be the first recognition that sometimes, CIC may need to relax or at least review some elements of its program. Failure to do so in reality leads to harm to foreign workers, to their employers, and indeed to Canada. Hopefully this philosophy may take root, but for now, at least some foreign workers who have applied for permanent residence under the AINP, will be able to secure a kind of ‘bridge’ work permit, mitigating the impact that the 4 year cap that could have been be harmful to all involved.

The information in this article is for general purposes only, and not intended as legal advice for any particular situation.

This post originally appeared on Kranc Associates. Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Benjamin A. Kranc Benjamin A. Kranc is senior principal of the firm, and has many years of experience assisting clients in connection with Canadian immigration and business issues. Ben is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Specialist in Immigration Law, and is one of only a select few to be chosen by ‘Who’s Who Legal’ to be a foremost practitioner in his field. He has spoken at numerous conferences, seminars, and information sessions – both for professional organizations and private groups – about issues in Canadian immigration law and has taught immigration law at Seneca College in Toronto. Ben has also written extensively. He is the author of a text on Canadian immigration law entitled “North American Relocation Law” (Thomson Reuters) and contributing immigration author of “The Human Resources Advisor” (First Reference Books).