Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers in Canada

Work Permit for Vulnerable WorkersKirsten, a Danish citizen, was thrilled about her new job. Of course, the most exciting aspect was the location, Canada. However, in two weeks in her new role, Kirsten’s manager called her to his office. He seemed very upset when she showed up. John, the manager, told Kirsten the upper management is not happy with her work. Regardless, he claimed he could prevent a massive cut to Kirsten’s salary. John continued: “You need to loosen up around me if you know what I mean.  Of course, in return, I’ll vouch for you.” Kirsten desperately looked up vulnerable workers in Canada. Consequently, she realized she could apply for an open work permit and free herself from abuse.

Many foreign workers in Canada may only work for one employer. In other words, they may not switch to another employer unless receiving authorization from IRCC. Unfortunately, the process is complicated, expensive and time-consuming. Luckily, an alternative route is available to vulnerable workers.

Who is a vulnerable worker?

A vulnerable worker is someone who

  • currently lives in Canada,
  • holds a valid work permit,
  • the work permit limits them to a specific employer, and
  • is subject to abuse by their employer.

Abuse and vulnerable workers

Employer abuse could take any of the following forms:

  • Sexual, such as forcing the worker to perform sexual acts
  • Psychological, such as intimidating or insulting the employee
  • Physical, such as beating the worker
  • Financial, such as taking employee’s salary

What is an open work permit?

An open work permit allows a foreign national to work for any employer in Canada. Of course, an immigration officer may impose certain limitations on the work permit. For example, they may limit the city in which they may work. Regardless, if you hold an open work permit, you may not work

  • in the adult industry such as exotic dance, erotic massages, escort services or striptease, and
  • for ineligible employers.

You may also read the following article for more information:

Vulnerable workers are eligible to apply for an open work permit (practitioners see R207.1). Consequently, they may work for another employer.

Where a vulnerable worker may get help

If you are a vulnerable worker, you may get help via any of the following channels:

How to apply for the vulnerable worker permit?

The best option is to apply online. Of course, when you are applying, make sure to present convincing documents to support your claims. However, if you do not know how to apply online, you may consider approaching one of the enforcement organizations. I mentioned their names in the previous section of this article.

How much is the processing fee for vulnerable workers

You are luckily exempt from paying a processing fee to the government of Canada.

Some relevant articles:

Our company is not the best option to assist vulnerable workers. However, in other situations, if you wish to visit or move to Canada, please fill out our free assessment form. We will review the assessment forms for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal advice from a licenced practitioner.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada


This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice. Do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. We cannot be held responsible for the content of these articles. If you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. If you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.

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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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