If you are new to Canada, your immigration status is likely to have an impact on your job search. Canadian employers cannot legally ask where you were born, but are well within their rights to ask whether you are legally allowed to work in this country. Those with Permanent Resident status are highly unlikely to face hiring difficulties, but those on temporary work permits may find that employers are more cautious about hiring you, and you have to be ready to answer their questions in order to reduce this risk.
First, Canadian employers are well within their rights to give preference to Canadian citizens or permanent residents.They are not legally required to treat temporary workers equally during the hiring process.Some organizations will openly state this in their job descriptions (i.e. “applications will only be considered from those eligible to work in Canada”, or “preference will be given to Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents”).Another way that organizations can find out your immigration status, without directly asking, is to look at your SIN; Those who are on temporary work permits have a 9 as the first digit.
Recruitment is an expensive business. While employers probably don’t believe that any new hire is going to stay with them for life, someone on a temporary work permit is seen as much more likely to leave. Perhaps they will think that you will eventually want to return to your home country, or that you may not be able to stay in the country beyond your current work permit expiry date. Simply put, you may represent a bigger cost than an individual who has already achieved Permanent Resident status.
Anyone who has been through the Permanent Resident application process knows that it is a time consuming and expensive process. Organizations you are applying to, may be concerned that you expect them to take on this responsibility; Don’t let them think this! If they end up valuing you so much that they are willing to pay the fees in the future – great! But at the application stage you want to make it clear that you will take charge.
You don’t have to be an immigration expert, but you cannot expect your potential employer to be either. As someone who has emigrated, you probably know a lot more about this subject than someone who hasn’t. Before you talk with employers, you want to make sure that you know: how long your current work permit is valid for; when you can apply for Permanent Residency; how long the application is likely to take; and will the employer be required to do anything. Simple.
If you are asked about your residency status in an interview, answer it accurately but concisely but do not allow this conversation to take over the interview. The focus of the interview should be on your skills and experience that make you the best candidate for the job; not your work permit.
If you are asked, it should be straight away. Always be honest with a potential employer or you risk being ‘black listed’ within that organization and potentially within the whole local industry. If it is not spoken about during the interview, you should always make sure that you disclose it at the point of offer. At this stage, the organization knows that they want you and they are less likely to be discouraged from taking you on.
You might be tempted to be less than honest about your residency status…don’t. Never risk damaging your reputation within the local industry; people talk and you don’t want your personal brand to become one of dishonesty. Answer honestly, assure them that you will take responsibility and don’t let it become the focus of your conversation with a potential employer.\
Eilidh currently works fulltime at Capilano University as a Career Advisor, and has advised students and alumni who are looking for worked within the different disciplines at the university. She has worked at universities in both Canada and Scotland and understands the challenge of looking for work in a new country. She is a member of the Career Professional of Canada and is a Certified Resume Writer. Eilidh regulary writes articles on employment and career topics for Capilano University Career Centre, Canadian Career Professionals and FutureWorks.