Navigating Employment Insurance Benefits for Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada

navigating employment insurance benefits for temporary foreign workers in Canada. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada, like many countries, has faced unprecedented challenges. Among those affected are temporary foreign workers, who are navigating a new landscape of layoffs and financial uncertainties.

This article delves into the critical information workers need regarding Employment Insurance Benefits for Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada, focusing on eligibility criteria and the implications of different work permit statuses.

Understanding Employment InsuranceBenefit Eligibility

Temporary foreign workers in Canada, who contribute to Employment Insurance premiums through insurable employment, are on equal footing with Canadian citizens and permanent residents regarding EI benefit eligibility. These benefits encompass a wide range, including employment loss benefits, sickness, maternity, and parental benefits, as well as compassionate care and family caregiver benefits.

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The prerequisites for Employment Insurance regular benefits include being engaged in insurable employment, involuntary job loss, being jobless and unpaid for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks, fulfilling the required insurable hours, and being actively engaged in job searching.

However, it’s important to note that voluntary employment termination, dismissal for misconduct, or unemployment resulting from involvement in a labor dispute could disqualify one from receiving these benefits.

Impact of Work Permit Types on Employment Insurance Eligibility

The nature and status of a work permit significantly influence a foreign worker’s eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits.

  • Valid Open Work Permit Holders: These permit holders are generally eligible for Employment Insurance benefits, as their permit allows them to work for any employer, which aligns with the availability requirement for Employment Insurance.
  • Valid Employer-Specific Work Permit Holders: For these workers, eligibility isn’t straightforward. Despite the employment restrictions, case law indicates that these workers could still qualify for Employment Insurance benefits if they can demonstrate their availability for work. It’s advisable to seek permit renewal or extension to reinforce this.
  • Expired or Non-Renewable Work Permit Holders: Individuals with expired work permits, especially those who haven’t applied for an extension, may struggle to prove their availability for work, affecting their eligibility. Conversely, those who have applied for a new permit before the expiry of the previous one might still be considered available for work. Workers with non-renewable permits, expected to leave Canada upon expiry, are typically ineligible.

Applying for Employment Insurance Benefits

To apply, foreign workers must undertake an online application process on the Government of Canada’s official website. The application should be filed immediately after employment cessation. Essential documents and information include the Social Insurance Number (SIN), personal and employment details, and reasons for job separation. Upon application, a confirmation number is issued, followed by a benefit statement from Service Canada.

Employment Insurance Benefits for Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada: A Hypothetical Scenario

Consider a foreign worker in Calgary with an annual salary of $40,000 CAD. With 900 insurable hours in the past 52 weeks and a regional unemployment rate of 7.6%, this worker could be eligible for 55% of their regular weekly pay, amounting to $422.95 CAD weekly, for a duration of 20 weeks.


The Employment Insurance Benefits for Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada is accessible to temporary foreign workers, provided they meet specific criteria and understand how their work permit status affects their eligibility. Prompt application and thorough documentation are key to accessing these benefits. Through this support, Canada continues to uphold its commitment to aiding not just its citizens and permanent residents but also the temporary foreign workforce during these challenging times.

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