Hey there! Are you interested in learning more about Canada? Let’s get you started off on the right foot, here are three things you have to understand if you’re thinking about moving to Canada.
CANADA IS NOT AN OPEN COUNTRY
With so many Filipinos talking about moving to Canada, it’s very easy to be under the impression that Canada is an open country.
Just like most countries, Canada has a complex immigration system that oversees the entry of foreign nationals.
That means, if you aren’t Canadian, you will be required to meet the minimum requirements before you are allowed entry.
Canada requires most Filipinos to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). The TRV is the document that’s attached to your Philippine passport.
The TRV is NOT the document that allows you entry into Canada.
Upon arrival at a Canadian Port of Entry (usually an airport, if you’re coming from the Philippines), you will be interviewed by a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer, who will ask you questions about your reason for coming to Canada,
If the CBSA officer is satisfied with your answers, they will issue you the appropriate documents, which will allow you entry into Canada. These documents will indicate what kind of status you have in Canada, and for how long you can stay. It will also indicate any additional conditions you must comply with during your stay.
TOURISTS / VISITORS TO CANADA
For most tourists, their Philippine passport is stamped and the appropriate temporary resident document is issued. The length of stay is indicated on the document.
The tourist must leave before the date indicated on the document, unless they have successfully applied to extend their stay.
Tourists to Canada are not allowed to work.
For most International students, their Philippine passport is stamped and a Study Permit is issued.
The Study Permit will indicate the name of the educational institution as well as the length of stay allowed in Canada.
The International Student must leave Canada before the date indicated in the Study Permit, unless the International Student has managed to extend their Study Permit or has transitioned to another status that allows them to stay for an extended period of time.
Most Study Permits indicate several conditions, including the number of hours of allowable work, among others.
OFWS / TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS
For most OFWs, a Work Permit will be issued. The Work Permit will indicate the name of the Canadian employer, as well as the length of stay allowed in Canada.
The OFW must leave Canada before the date indicated in the Work Permit, unless the OFW has managed to extend their Work Permit or has transitioned to another status that allows them to stay for an extended period of time.
Some Work Permits indicate that the OFW is locked into a specific Canadian employer, other Work Permits are “open”, meaning that the OFW is allowed to work for any Canadian employer who would like to hire them.
Any OFWs coming to Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) (including those under the Caregiver Program), as well as nominees of provincial and territorial nominee programs (including the Yukon Nominee Program (YNP).
PERMANENT RESIDENTS / LANDED IMMIGRANTS
For most newly arrived Permanent Residents, a Certificate of Permanent Residence (COPR) is issued. The COPR does not have an expiration date, and will be valid until the arrival of the physical permanent residency card in the mail.
Typically, the PR Card arrived three months after first arriving in Canada.
The PR Card has an expiration date, before which it must be renewed. Take note that Permanent Residency does not expire, but the PR Card must be replaced before its expiration.
You will not be able to enter Canada without a valid PR Card.
THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE THOUGHT OF
Like most countries, the Government of Canada prioritizes taking care of Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents first.
That holds true especially for jobs. If there is a job available, you can bet that it will first go to Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents.
So, what happens when there aren’t any Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents who are available (or actually want) the job?
That’s when Canadian employers can ask for permission to hire foreign workers (including OFWs from the Philippines).
In most cases, Canadian employers have a hard time filling job positions that are a) require super specialized skills or b) too low paying to be considered by Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents.
THERE ARE NO LOW SKILLED JOBS IN CANADA
While occasionally there might be jobs that would seem low skilled, these jobs oftentimes still require a very specific skill set. Like if you want to work in a greenhouse. You’ll actually have to have experience working in a greenhouse.
Even Caregivers are not considered low-skilled. With the close of the Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP), the Government of Canada has raised the minimum work background and language requirements for OFWs. Caregivers are NOT domestic helpers, in that they are supposed to provide specific care to Canadian children, elderly or people with unique medical requirements.
Canadian employers who would like to ask for permission to hire OFWs must do a couple of things before they can do so.
OFW JOBS MUST HAVE THE APPROPRIATE NOC CODE
First, they have to check if the job they are looking to get filled is on the approved list of jobs according to the National Occupation Classification (NOC).
The NOC is Canada’s system of describing jobs in the labour market. For the TFWP, only Canadian employers with jobs with certain NOC codes are given permission to hire foreign workers.
It’s used by Canadian employers when asking for permission from the Government of Canada to hire foreign workers, and by OFWs to demonstrate that they have equivalent work backgrounds that would meet the Canadian employers’ requirements.
DON’T LOOK FOR LOW SKILLED WORK AND EXPECT TO STAY IN CANADA
So if you’re looking for low skilled work, including mushroom pickers and vegetable packers, those are very limited.
Low skilled work also does not provide a path too Permanent Residency. This means that before the end of your contract, you must leave Canada.
OFWs in low skilled work are usually locked into employment with a specific Canadian employer. They are NOT allowed to work for any other Canadian employer who is not authorized by the Government of Canada.
In most cases, only OFWs with high enough NOC codes (supervisors, managers, etc) are given the opportunity to apply for Permanent Residency.
The only exception to this would be Caregivers. Caregiver are unique, because they are allowed to apply for Permanent Residency after meeting the minimum requirements of the Caregiver Program.
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA REQUIREMENTS
Let’s say that you have a Canadian employer interested in hiring you to work in Canada. Congratulations! There’s a bunch of stuff you need to take care of before you can even think of packing your bags and getting on a plane.
APPLYING FOR AN LMIA
First, your Canadian employer has to get permission. This comes in the form of a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
This document indicates that the job position is on the list of jobs allowed by the Government of Canada for foreign workers, and that the Canadian employer has tried (and was not successful) to find a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident to fill the position.
Without this document, there is nothing to talk about. The processing and payment of fees associated with the LMIA is the responsibility of the Canadian employer, not the OFW.
Once the Canadian employer has found a suitable OFW, the Canadian employer gives the OFW a copy of the LMIA, so they can apply for a Temporary Resident Visa.
APPLYING FOR A TEMPORARY RESIDENT VISA (TRV)
For most OFWs, they will need to apply for a TRV at the Visa Application Centre (VAC) which has jurisdiction over their place of residence.
VACs are private companies that are authorized by the Government of Canada to collect applications for delivery to the Visa Office.
VACs also provide services for the biometric requirement of the application.
Once complete, VACs return the passport and other documents to the applicant.
VACs accepts applications for Visitor Visas, Study Permits, Work Permits and travel documents for Permanent Residents.
VACs does not accept applications for Permanent Residency, Express Entry, authorization to return to Canada, temporary resident permits, rehabilitation and voluntary renunciation of permanent residency status.
There are two VACs in the Philippines, one in Cebu and the other in Manila.
Both VACs are available by appointment only.
The VACs in the Philippines are run by VFS Global.
PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT REQUIREMENTS
But wait, there’s more!
In most cases, both Canadian employers and OFWs must meet the minimum requirements of the Philippine Government as well.
After all, the Philippines isn’t in the business of exporting people. If you’re moving to Canada, make sure you’re fully prepared.
RED RIBBON / POLO: VERIFICATION AND AUTHENTICATION OF EMPLOYMENT DOCUMENTS
In most cases, Canadian employers must submit documents to the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) which has jurisdiction over the province of employment.
This process is called the Verification and Authentication of Employment Documents.
Sometimes (mistakenly) called Red Ribbon, because they attach a red ribbon on it.
Red ribbons are also attached to notarized documents and other stuff, so to make things less confusing, don’t call it that.
In certain cases, Canadian employers must also partner with POEA-licensed recruitment agencies in the Philippines.
The reason for this is twofold.
For one, it allows the Canadian employer to designate a third party to narrow down the list of eligible candidates. Imagine having to go through tens of thousands of resumes just for one position.
For another, it allows the Philippine Government to hold someone to account if something goes wrong while the OFW is working overseas.
One thing that most people don’t care to understand is that the Philippine Government does not have jurisdiction over Canadian employers, Canadian immigration consultants or lawyers. If you have a problem with those guys, you’ll have to be physically in Canada to bring them to court.
POEA-licensed recruitment agencies are another matter altogether.
For example, if a Canadian employer fires an OFW and refuses to pay for the cost of the OFW’s repatriation, the Philippine Government can’t run after the Canadian employer.
They can, however, force the POEA-license to do so. After all, they’ve already made a lot of money from the Canadian employer.
Remember, Canada is a No-Placement Fee country. Canadian employers are supposed to shoulder the cost of OFW recruitment to Canada, including airfare, insurance and placement fees.
MOVING TO CANADA? MAKE SURE TO ATTEND YOUR PDOS
Then there’s the rest of the usual OFW requirements, including mandatory attendance in the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) conducted by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
If you are moving to Canada as a Permanent Resident or a Landed Immigrant, your PDOS will be conducted by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO).
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