Can I work in Canada after I make a refugee claim?

4. Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

If Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) approves your open work permit, you can apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) through Service Canada.

A SIN allows you to legally work, pay taxes, and use government services in Canada.

To apply for a SIN, most people must go to a local Service Canada Centre. If you live more than 100 kilometres from the nearest Service Canada Centre, or you have another situation that makes it difficult for you to apply in person, you might be able to apply online or by mail.

You can download the application form or go to your nearest Service Canada Centre to get a form. You must include:

  • your Refugee Protection Claimant Document
  • another document that shows your name, for example a birth certificate, marriage certificate, or divorce decree
  • your original work permit 

If your documents are not in English or French, you must also submit:

  • an English or French translation of the document, and
  • a declaration or affidavit written and signed by the translator.

If you're applying in person, take your completed application form with your original work permit to your nearest Service Canada Centre. If your application is complete, you will get your SIN right away.

If you're applying by mail, complete the SIN application form and mail it with your original work permit. Photocopies are not allowed. But you should make a copy for yourself.

Mail your application to:

Service Canada
Social Insurance Registration Office
PO Box 7000
Bathurst, New Brunswick E2A 4T1

Keep a copy of your open work permit. Service Canada will return the original to you.

If your application is complete, you will get a letter with your SIN by mail within 20 business days from the date your application is received. If more than 25 business days have passed, you can contact Service Canada to find out the status of your application.

Your SIN will be a 9-digit number that starts with the number “9”. Your SIN is temporary and is only valid until the expiry date on your work permit. If you need to extend your open work permit, you should submit an application to IRCC at least 30 days before the permit expires.

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