I’m a temporary foreign worker. What are my rights?

4. Think about leaving a bad employer and applying for a work permit

Temporary foreign workers are allowed to quit their job.

Your employer cannot have you deported from Canada if you quit. You can stay in Canada for as long as your work permit lasts.

But there are risks to quitting your job. This is because most temporary foreign workers are in Canada on closed work permits. This means that you can only work for the employer named on your work permit unless you get another work permit.

You can apply for another closed work permit if you can find another employer in Ontario to hire you. But this can be difficult.

A community legal clinic may be able to help if you need to apply for a new work permit. You can find your local clinic by calling Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or by looking on their website.

If you’re mistreated or abused

If you quit your job because your employer mistreats or abuses you, you can apply for an open work permit. Mistreatment includes:

An open work permit allows you to work for any employer who will hire you. It can take as long as 6 months to get this type of permit.

When you apply, you must include a letter about what your employer did. You must also include evidence of how you were mistreated or abused.

Types of evidence

The most common type of evidence is an affidavit. This is a statement where you describe what happened to you. When you sign your statement, you promise that what you're saying is true. You can be punished for lying on an affidavit. If you need an affidavit, you can contact your local community legal clinic.

Here are some other examples of evidence you can use:

  • a letter from a doctor, therapist, or victim support organization that says you were physically, sexually, or emotionally abused
  • emails or photos showing the abuse, for example, an email that proves your employer was not paying you what they should have or photos showing unsafe working conditions
  • a copy of a complaint you made to the police or to the Ministry of Labour, Employment Standards, or the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
  • your bank records and employment contract that show your employer keeping your money
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