Canadian work permits often contain a clause that confuses foreign workers and their Canadian employers.


The statement in question is usually printed in bold capitalized letters and reads ÒTHIS DOES NOT AUTHORIZE RE-ENTRY.Ó


Workers often believe they cannot leave Canada.


This is not so. To understand why, we must first understand how foreign nationals are normally granted ÒentryÓ to Canada.


Foreign nationals are not ordinarily permitted to simply show up at a Canadian port-of-entry to seek temporary admission to Canada. First, they must apply at a Canadian visa post outside of Canada for a temporary resident visa. Citizens of certain countries are exempted from this requirement.

A temporary resident visa does not, in any way, guarantee that the foreigner will actually be allowed to enter Canada nor does it determine how long the foreigner will be allowed to stay here, if admitted.

The visa simply allows the foreigner to appear at a Canadian port-of-entry and make a request to enter the country. The request must be made prior to the expiry date shown on the visa. Once the request to enter Canada is made, the visa dies, unless it is a multiple-entry visa that allows more than a single request.

At the port-of-entry, the officer will first decide if the person is admissible to Canada. If the officer feels that the foreigner is admissible, he or she will then decide how long the foreigner may stay in Canada and under what conditions. It is the stamp that the officer places on the passport, and not the visa, which determines how long the foreigner may remain in Canada. The stamp authorizes a six-month stay unless the officer indicates, in writing, a different period. A person holding a valid work permit holds a document that authorizes him to work in Canada but not necessarily the right to ÒenterÓ Canada.

If a person on a valid work permit wishes to leave Canada he may do so even if he doesnÕt have the right of re-entry. However, if he is not visa-exempt, he will have to obtain a visa before he can seek to re-enter Canada to resume his employment. The unexpired work permit, by itself, is insufficient for this purpose.

In addition, they must again prove at the port-of-entry that they are not inadmissible to this country.

Usually, this is not a tall order for someone who has already done so when they were initially issued their work permit.

Guidy Mamann practices law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Ontario Law Society as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at