If you worked in any of these countries, you could be due a Tax Refund

A Guide for Working in Canada as a Non-resident During COVID-19


The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of challenges for temporary foreign workers and their employers in Canada. What’s more, it has also had a massive impact on immigration programs, applications and cross-border travelling. 

In this guide, we will outline everything a foreign temporary worker needs to know when looking for a job in Canada during COVID-19.

How is COVID-19 affecting Canada’s immigration programs?

The pandemic is delaying some of Canada’s immigration programs. 

Some of the impacts include:

  • Processing delays for work permits, visitor visas, citizenship and permanent residency applications

  • Travel restrictions to Canada with some exemptions for temporary foreign workers

  • Inability to get biometrics (many VAC centres are closed globally) which are required for most work permits and permanent residence processes. The deadline to provide biometrics has been changed from 30 to 90 days 

For the time being, applications can be filed and the IRCC takes in new applications for permanent residency and work permits. 

If an applicant cannot provide a requested document due to COVID-19, his/her application won’t be refused. 

On March 01, 2021, the International Experience Canada (IEC) pool was opened for 2021 for certain countries.

The Non-resident tax refund from Canada is $998


Are there any COVID related measures for the extension of work permits for temporary foreign workers?

Yes, the IRCC has introduced some temporary policies during the pandemic, to assist foreign workers who are already in Canada and need work permit extensions.

One of them allows former work permit holders who are applying for an employer-specific work permit to work while their application is pending. 

Along with other measures, for the time being, the IRCC has temporarily waived the biometrics for foreign nationals, who are applying for a work permit and who are already in Canada. 

Are there any additional pandemic related requirements regarding entry to Canada for temporary foreign workers?

Yes, there are. Travellers and temporary foreign workers who arrive in Canada are required to be under quarantine for 14 days. 

There are very few exemptions to the quarantine requirement. A temporary worker can be even expelled from Canada if they violate the quarantine rules. 

Some provinces also have additional public health requirements and rules in addition to the federal government requirements.  

Are there any new pandemic related requirementa for temporary workers for the 2021 season?

  • You must show a proof of a job offer in order to apply for this year’s season

  • You must self isolate for 14 days and this includes 3 nights at a government-authorized hotel

  • You must have a negative COVID-19 test, taken no later than 72 hours before departure

  • You should register in advance for another COVID-19 test which will be made upon arrival

  • You should undergo a final COVID-19 test on the 10th day of your quarantine

The Non-resident tax refund from Canada is $998


How do I come to Canada as a temporary foreign worker?

To work legally in Canada, you will need a work permit if you are not a permanent resident of Canada or a Canadian citizen. 

Before you come to Canada, you will have to apply for it or a Canadian visa from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 

For these work permits:

  • Before you apply, you will have to get a job offer from a Canadian employer 

  • Your employer must apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)* from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)

  • ESDC should decide if the employer can hire a foreign worker for this job position 

Keep in mind that for some foreign workers, there are special work permits. For instance, agricultural workers, business people or caregivers.

You may be eligible to apply for a special type of work permit if you are already in Canada. So, you will need to check your eligibility to apply from inside Canada.

If any employer or company is willing to offer a job with a visa sponsorship (although this is unlikely to happen), then you will be able to apply for a work permit through the Canada Express Entry program. 

It’s not simple for an employer to sponsor a worker because this involves cost and a lot of paperwork and administration.

You can apply for a permanent residence visa or a Working Holiday Visa in Canada (If you are between the ages of 18 and 35) and this will enable you to work with any company anywhere in Canada. 

If you are an unskilled or semi-skilled worker, the best option is to apply for the Provincial Nominee Program because the Express Entry Canada system works with the Canadian Experience Class, Federal Trades Program and Federal Skilled Worker Program that all require some level of qualification.

* What is Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?

Before hiring a foreign worker, an employer in Canada may need to get this document that will show that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job.

I’m a non-resident in Canada. Which jobs can I apply for during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Foreign workers will find lots of employment opportunities in Canada, even in unskilled roles.

Skilled workers can pursue work in a plethora of different industries, for example as medical specialists, IT specialists, long-haul truck drivers, miners and more. 

Meanwhile, unskilled workers can find a job in hospitality, manufacturing, agriculture, retail, as couriers, caregivers and more.  

Unskilled jobs in Canada for foreigners

The Canadian government is planning to recruit over a million immigrants into their vacant employment positions.

There are a large number of vacancies in certain unskilled fields. For example, according to jobseem.com there are more than 50,000 jobs in retail, 45,900 positions in hospitality, 38,000 openings in construction and thousands of jobs in driving, like taxi driver and truck driver’s positions, available to temporary workers. 

Many manufacturing, packaging, harvesting, agricultural and fruit picking companies are seeking foreign workers. They are hiring in multiple job positions around various cities in Canada. 

The good news is that the minimum wage exceeds $20,000 a year.

The Non-resident tax refund from Canada is $998


Minimum requirements for foreigners who look for a job in Canada:

  • Reading and speaking the English language (French language skills are also an advantage)

  • High school education (Technical subject preferred)

  • Experience in related jobs

  • Age, preferably  21 to 39

  • A valid passport and other documents

How to find companies that hire immigrants in Canada?

As a foreign worker, it may be difficult to find employers that will hire you, or get the same kind of job you had in your home country. 

You may face challenges with your foreign education and work credentials being recognised. 

As an immigrant, your biggest obstacle will be having enough Canadian work experience and accreditation that will meet Canadian standards. 

Before coming to Canada:

  • check with the nearest Canadian embassy to see if there are any job fairs by Canadian businesses

  • check with universities to see if they host career fairs that include Canadian employers

  • look for industry associations that may host job fairs in your area that include Canadian businesses

Canadian companies may target specific countries that have experienced candidates.

For example, Australian students who are on summer break during Canadian winters, or home support workers from India or the Philippines. 

There are some programs that encourage Canadian companies to hire immigrants. Here are some programs to consider:

Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants Program 

Immigrant Employment Council of BC

See also:

- BC Job Connect 

- Mentor Connect

-ISS of BC – Immigrant Services Society

See also:

- ISSofBC: Find Work

Canadian Immigrant Fair

Canadian Immigrant: How to find a job

Federal Internship for Newcomers Program

Canada’s Best Diversity Employers

Should a temporary worker leave Canada if his/ her employment has been cancelled during the pandemic?

No, if a temporary foreign worker has a valid work permit he/she does not have to leave Canada because the work permit document gives permission to the holder to stay in Canada until its end date. 

However, if the temporary foreign worker holds a work permit that is employer-specific, they would not be able to continue employment in Canada, unless they were able to obtain a new employer-specific work permit through another employer. 

This is why it’s important to hold a copy of your work permit, so you can check if it’s an open work permit or employer-specific.

A temporary foreign worker may need to file an online extension or change of status application if for example, due to COVID travel restrictions, he/she is unable to travel to their home country due to lack of flights or country restrictions. 

Keep in mind that processing times for renewals during the pandemic have increased substantially. 

What documents does a non-resident need to apply for a job in Canada?

  • Resume in Canadian style

  • Cover Letter

  • Educational Documentation (if a job requires any type of specific formal education, you may be required to submit proof of such)

  • References 

The Non-resident tax refund from Canada is $998


What documents does a non-resident need to start a job in Canada?

  • Social Insurance Number - SIN

  • Work Permit

  • Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

What type of reliefs can I get while working in Canada if I am affected by COVID-19?

As a non-resident, you can claim some of the benefits listed below if you are present in Canada during the period for which you are claiming them.

What is CRB - the Canada Recovery Benefit?

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) is income support to self-employed and employed individuals who are affected by COVID-19 and who are not entitled to EI - Employment Insurance benefits. 

If you are eligible, you can receive $1000 ($900 after taxes) for a period of two weeks. If your situation lasts longer, you will need to apply again for a total of 26 weeks between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021. 

To be eligible, you must meet all the following conditions for the 2 week period:

  • Due to COVID-19, you were not employed/ self-employed

  • Your average weekly income was reduced by 50% due to COVID-19 compared to the previous year

  • You did not receive/ apply for any of the following:

- CRSB - Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

- CRCB - Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

- any short-term disability benefits

- QPIP - Québec Parental Insurance Plan benefits 

  • You were not eligible for EI benefits 

  • You reside in Canada

  • You were present in Canada

  • You are at least 15 years old

  • You have a valid SIN

  • In 2019, 2020 or in the 12 months before the date you apply, you earned at least $5,000 from any of these sources:

- employment income

- self-employed income after deducting expenses

- parental/maternity benefits from EI or similar QPIP benefits 

  • Unless it was reasonable to do so, you did not quit a job or reduced your work time voluntarily 

  • You were looking for employment during this period as an employee or as a self-employed individual

  • You did not turn down reasonable work during the 2 weeks period

What is the CRSB - Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit?

CRSB gives support to self-employed and employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick (COVID-19), or have any underlying medical condition which puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19 or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19. 

If you are eligible for this benefit, you can get $500 ($450 after taxes) for a period of one week. If you need this benefit for more than a week, you will need to apply again. 

Eligibility CRSB:

You are unable to work (50% of your work) because you are self-isolating for one of the following reasons:

  • you are sick with COVID-19

  • you are advised to stay in quarantine because of COVID-19

  • you have a health condition that puts you at a greater risk of getting COVID-19

  • you should not receive any of the following benefits:

- Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

- Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

- disability benefits (short-term)

- Employment Insurance Benefits (EI)

- Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits

  • you should be at least 15 years old

  • you reside and you were present in Canada

  • you are not receiving paid leave from your employer for the same period

  • you have a valid SIN

  • you earned at least $5,000 in 2019,2020, the last 12 months before the date you apply from any of these sources:

- employment income 

- net self-employed income after deducting expenses

- parental or maternity benefits from EI or any similar QPIP benefits

What is the CRCB - Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit?

This benefit gives income to employed/ self-employed individuals who are not able to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs care due to COVID-19.

Eligibility CRCB:

  • you are unable to work because you are taking care of a family member (at least 50% of the time)

  • you are the only one in your household applying for this benefit for this week

- their school, day program, daycare, or any other care facility is unavailable to them due to COVID-19

- their care services are unavailable to them due to COVID-19

  • The person you care for:

- has symptoms of COVID-19 or is sick with COVID-19

- is at risk of health complications if they get COVID-19, as advised by a health professional 

- is self-isolating because of COVID-19

  • you should not receive any of the following benefits:

- Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

- Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

- disability benefits (short-term)

- Employment Insurance Benefits (EI)

- Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits

  • you should be at least 15 years old

  • you reside and you were present in Canada

  • you are not receiving paid leave from your employer for the same period

  • you have a valid SIN

  • you earned at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020, the last 12 months before the date you apply from any of these sources:

- employment income 

- net self-employed income after deducting expenses

- parental or maternity benefits from EI or any similar QPIP benefits

What type of tax expenses can I claim as a non-resident in Canada?

Many non-residents are confused about the tax expenses that they can claim on their tax return because, in Canada, there are no special expenses and deductions which are exclusive to non-residents. 

However, non-residents are entitled to claim a range of tax reliefs on their return and we will list some of the most common options below. 

The Non-resident tax refund from Canada is $998


Meal expenses of long-haul truck drivers in Canada

As a long-haul truck driver in Canada, you are able to claim eligible meal and beverage expenses on your income tax return. 

These expenses are deductible at a higher rate than the 50% permitted for other transportation expenses. Meal and beverage expenses are deductible at 80% during eligible travel periods in 2020. 

Your employee must sign Form TL2 but you don’t need to send it with your return. In case the CRA asks to see it later, you must provide it. 

Completing your tax return in Canada

You should complete a Form TL2, claim for meals and lodging expenses on line 22900 of your tax return. If you need help with completing your canadian tax return and claiming all your eligible expenses, Taxback.com can do this on your behalf. 

Union dues and professional membership dues 

You can deduct certain types of union dues or professional membership fees from your income tax return if you belong to a professional organization or a union. 

The CRA allows you to claim the following types of dues on your tax return:

  • Dues paid toward parity of advisory committees as required by provincial law

  • Dues for keeping a legal professional status 

  • Dues paid to a professional board as required by a provincial law

  • Malpractice liability coverage or premiums paid for insurance for professionals

  • Yearly union dues when you are a member of an association of public servants or a trade union 

The union dues that are eligible to be claimed as a tax deduction can be found on your T4 slip in box 44. Each employer must issue employees T4 slips by the end of February. 

You can claim a tax deduction for them on line 21200 on your tax return.

You should not claim a tax deduction for union dues more than once. You can receive a notice of reassessment and a possible penalty tax and interest owing if you claim union dues twice. 

Northern Residents Deduction 

This is a tax deduction for residents of certain regions of Canada and can be claimed on the personal income tax return. 

It provides relief to some people who live in a prescribed northern zone and are facing a higher cost of living, limited access to services and environmental hardships. You can find a list of the places and zones on the website of CRA.

There are northern residents in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories. 

If you live in the prescribed zones on a permanent basis for more than 6 months, you can qualify for this relief. 

There are 2 northern residents deductions:

  • a residency deduction (for having lived in a prescribed zone) - step 2 of Form T2222

  • a deduction for travel benefits that you received from employment in a prescribed zone that was included in your income - step 3 of Form T2222

Working from home expenses

Countless workers across Canada were forced to work from home in 2020 due to COVID-19. If that sounds like you, the good news is that you may be entitled to claim tax relief on the costs associated with working from home.

You can find everything you need to know in this guide to working from home expenses in Canada.

Medical expenses

Non-residents can also  claim tax relief on their medical expenses (if you paid for yourself, your spouse or  common-law partner and certain related persons).

If you believe you have qualifying medical expenses, you should keep the receipts. 

The total eligible medical expenses should be reduced by 3% of your net income or $2,352, whichever is less. The tax credit is then 15% of the amount remaining.

Some qualifying medical expenses include:

  • Doctor consultations

  • Prescribed drugs and medications

  • Nurses’ fees

  • Premiums paid to private health insurance

  • Costs related to purchasing gluten-free food for coeliac

  • Orthodontic work

Medical-related travel

If you don’t have medical services available to you within 40 km of where you live, you could be able to claim the cost of your transportation. 

If you must travel at least 80 km from your home, you can claim meal expenses and accommodation in addition to those transportation expenses.

The Non-resident tax refund from Canada is $998


As a non-resident should I file a tax return while working in Canada and who can help me with this?

In short, you are required to file a tax return if you had an underpayment on your tax bill during the tax year.

You should also file your return in order to claim your tax back in Canada. After all, the average non-resident Canadian tax refund is $998. So it makes a lot of sense to check what you are owed and claim your tax refund in Canada.

If you're wondering "How much will i get back on my tax return", please feel free to use our income tax refund calculator to find out how much Canadian tax you can claim back.

Taxback.com can help you with your Canadian tax return. Our tax team will take care of all the tricky tax paperwork so you don’t have to. We will even transfer your maximum refund straight to your bank account.  

Our policy is no refund, no fee so you have nothing to lose by checking what tax back you're owed. 

Why choose Taxback.com?

Here's why:

  • Our team will ensure you avail of every expense and relief you're entitled to

  • You can use our tax refund calculator for Canada to see how much tax you are owed

  • We'll transfer your maximum legal tax refund straight to your bank account

  • It's a convenient online service. We do the work. You get the cash!

  • Got tax questions? Our live chat team are on hand 24/7 to support you

About The Author

Kristina Valcheva - Digital content writer @ Taxback.com

Kristina is a digital content writer at Taxback.com. She has a strong interest in finance and technology, and her background is in media, journalism and sales.

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