Illegal work

You need money but you are not eligible to work in Canada for some reason. For example, you are on a tourist visa or a student in your first year in Canada. But you begin to consider undocumented employment, as you don’t have a work permit, - a document allowing you to accept employment.

You know that illegal work exists as you heard about it from your friends, relatives and neighbours who “did it”. But you know it’s against the law and as you desperately need money, you accept employment without having authorisation to work from Canadian government.

Immigration regulations state that “work” means an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that is in direct competition with the activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.

If you are willing to break the law, you should know a few basics:

First at all, it is strictly illegal. A foreign national is not authorized to work without a permit. If you have never applied for one, if your permit expired or if you changed jobs without authorisation, you are in breach of Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). The legal consequences of this action are grim. If you are discovered, a hearing may be held at the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Immigration Division, where the allegation of working illegally would be presented.

The Division decides if you have failed to abide by the law and it can rule that you are inadmissible to Canada. This decision would lead to an exclusion order, which would prevent you from re-entering Canada for at least one year or more.

An illegal worker can be found in violation of the IRPA on the grounds of non-compliance regardless of whether he knew or didn’t know that it was necessary to obtain a work permit. Thus claiming that you didn’t know that you had to get a work permit will not help.

For employers who hire undocumented workers, penalties range from a conviction and a fine dozens of thousands of dollars to imprisonment, and they will never protect you in exchange of less severe penalties.

The Canada Border Service Agency prefers not to share how they detect foreigners who breach the Canada’s work’s regulation. In fact, many times immigration authorities are aware of certain employers who hire illegally, but any moment you can come to the attention of the authorities with all the consequences.

Even if you are lucky enough not to be caught, you will be not in position to complain about getting less than minimum wages, not getting paid at all, working shifts too long or any other aspect of your workplace. Dishonest employers pay below minimum wage, and the safety standards often don’t exist in these jobs. Illegal workers are always threatened.

They can be working seven days a week; they probably don’t have a bank account or have difficulties opening one.

Non-status workers fear that if they complain about their working conditions, their employer will notify immigration authorities of their lack of legal status. Thus the workers will be vulnerable to deportation from Canada. In fact, this fear is neither irrational nor unreasonable. It leads non-status workers to tolerate conditions that are dangerous, exploitative and unlawful.

Surviving in a new country could be a stressing and challenging experience. Accepting a work without authorisation can make this experience even more stressful.

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