For so long I didn’t bother knowing the difference between the temporary resident visa and work permit. Because I came to Canada through the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP), I received my visa in the Philippines and work permit at the port of entry (Vancouver International Airport).
The only time I was interested to know more the documents was when I had to learn how to renew a work permit in Canada. (My work permit expired at the same time with my passport.)
I was lucky to meet the 24-month requirement in Live-in Caregiver Program before my work permit expired. I renewed my Philippine passport before I applied for an open work permit along with permanent residence.
All temporary foreign workers have to renew a Canadian work permit at some point until such time a permanent resident status is established.
Here are the important things to remember for work permit holder:
- Apply at least 30 days prior to expiration of work permit.
- Check the end of validity of your passport. My rule is to renew my passport a year prior to the expiration date through a consular outreach program or to any Philippine embassy or consulate in Canada.
- Since December 13, 2016, the cumulative duration (maximum of four years) NO longer applies.
You can work temporarily in Canada for a MAXIMUM of four years. The applicant should live or work in another country before applying to work in Canada again.
Let’s assume you’ve recently renewed your passport. So the next thing to do is gather the requirements.
The Common Forms for the Renewal of Canadian Work Permit
The forms are regularly updated so always submit the current version of documents:
- Document Checklist (IMM 5556)
- Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker (IMM 5710)
This is just the summary; the complete list of requirements is found in the Document Checklist (IMM 5556):
- Stamped Receipt (IMM 5401)
- Photocopies of passport (biography) and the other marked pages
- Photocopy of current immigration document (e.g. work permit)
- Photocopy of contract (for Live-in caregiver)
- Photocopy of Labour Market Impact Assessment from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)
- Photocopy of job offer letter from prospective employer
If it’s your first time to read the documents you’ll notice that the forms are used by other applicants as well and not only by temporary foreign workers:
- Temporary resident
- Refugee claimant
- Applicant of open work permit (including live-in caregiver)
- Student permit holder
So don’t get confused; focus on your category.
The next thing to do after completing the forms and gathering all the other personal documents is to find out how to submit the application.
Two Ways on How to Renew a Work Permit in Canada
While I was a temporary foreign worker I was able to try these two methods. I’ll share the good and the bad and which one is my favourite.
1st Option: Online Application
The following tips will give you an overview on what to expect in applying online. It will help you prepare for the day that you have enough time to sit down on your computer and printer and almost-perfect WiFi.
You cannot be IDLE for a long time or else you’ll have to start a new session.
- You have to answer the questionnaires (the same way to get a work permit) to find out if you are eligible to apply online.
- MyCIC account is required before you can proceed. If you don’t have one yet, you can create an account using a Sign-in Partner (Canadian bank) or GCKey (Government of Canada Credentials). Grab a pen and paper. Write down all the important information. (I forgot mine and I guess I have to make another account since I can’t find it on my little notebook.)
- Once you found out that you are eligible to apply a work permit online and already registered don’t forget the paperwork: fill out and scan the forms (save as PDF) including the other requirements (immigration document, passport, LMIA, contract, job offer letter, and etc.)
- Not having a credit card is the one thing that will stand in your way besides a low to no WiFi signal. Credit card is the ONLY way to pay the fee for online application. If you don’t have a credit card, you may ask a friend to lend his card and immediately pay back.
Note: For caregivers you can renew your open work permit online by following the same procedure. But to apply for the initial application of open work permit you have to submit it through paper (refer to the next process). Ideally you should submit the application for open work permit and permanent residence AT THE SAME TIME.
2nd Option: Paper Application
For those who doesn’t have a credit card or didn’t like to tinker with gadgets and technology then submitting the application through mail is the best option.
- Without further ado, I’ll direct you to the application package. Download and fill out the forms.
- The Instruction Guide (IMM 5553) is your handy dandy ally if you have any question about the application. (You can also leave a comment in this post if you have any questions; other applicants and I may be of help.)
- The Document Checklist (IMM 5556) is your guide in collecting all the requirements.
- As for the Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker (IMM 5710), you have to VALIDATE it. (Bar code is made as an addition to the form.) I prefer to fill out the form first and check several times before validating. But if you spot any errors in the hard copy (printout), you can still edit and print only the altered page. No need to print the bar code again.
- Submitting the application for the renewal of Canadian wok permit through mail has an advantage in paying the fee. You can either pay online or to your bank or wire service using the Fees Receipt (IMM 5401).
How to Pay the Fee
The renewal or initial work permit fee is $155.00 which is NOT refundable. So to avoid paying unnecessarily, check if you are applying for the right permit and that you are eligible to renew a work permit in Canada.
Here I summarized on how you’ll pay the fee:
- Online application: pay online
- Paper application: pay online or order the Fee Receipt (IMM 5401)
Read the full details on how to pay and to find out the current fee on the Instruction Guide. Whether you pay online or use the fee receipt, don’t forget to include the receipt with your application. And make a photocopy for yourself.
How Long Is the Processing Time
I’m a bit disappointed when I checked the processing time. It takes more than 3 months to receive the Canadian work permit based on the table “Application Submitted Inside Canada.”
Online application: 117 days
Paper application: 109 days
And I am confused why paper application is faster than online. Still, I recommend you to submit online.
I helped a friend to renew a work permit in Canada through online application. Within a few days he received a message (on MyCIC account) that his application was APPROVED. The new work permit was delivered in his mailing address.
How’s that for a peace of mind. It happened in March 2015.
He was so happy and I was amazed since I didn’t get any message when I applied online but I got mine within one and a half months in 2013.
That’s all my tips for now. It’s time for you to use it wisely.
Use all the changes to your advantage but PLEASE don’t ask me how long it will take you to renew a work permit in Canada. I wish you can get it in a few weeks.
I really do because I know what it feels like to wait.
On weekdays I checked the mailbox every day. And over the weekends I can’t wait for Monday to come.
You don’t have to wait with anxiety like I did. If you have time, you can work on the application package more than 30 days prior to the work permit expiration.
Take advantage of every opportunity to be sponsored by your current or prospective employer. Use your time spent working in Canada to secure your future. Once you’re done with PR aim for a Canadian citizenship.
Am I looking too far ahead? I’ll bring you back here in the present.
How’s your preparation so far? Or how was the processing time? Share your story in the comment.