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Protection for Immigrants and Foreign Workers

If you’re coming to Saskatchewan through provincial or federal immigration programs either for a temporary visit or permanently, you’re protected by the Foreign Worker Recruitment and Immigration Services Act (FWRISA).

The Act protects:

  • Foreign workers
  • Students
  • Visitors
  • Family class immigrants
  • Refugees
  • Self-employed foreign nationals

Immigrants to Canada also have legal protection under Canadian federal legislation.

In addition, all employers, immigration consultants and recruiters have responsibilities to the immigrants and foreign workers who use their services. Learn about these responsibilities in the sections below. 

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1. About the FWRISA

The Government of Saskatchewan introduced The Foreign Worker Recruitment and Immigration Services Act (FWRISA), on October 11, 2013. The Act protects immigrants and foreign workers from being treated wrongly or abused during the immigration and recruitment process. Immigrants, employers, recruiters and immigration consultants will benefit from this legislation and a more transparent and fair business environment.

The FWRISA provides the most comprehensive protection in Canada for immigrants who often do  not know about Canadian laws and culture or may be  limited language ability.

 The Act:

  • Requires immigration recruiters and immigration consultants to be licensed with the Government of Saskatchewan, to post a financial security that may be used to compensate victims of violations, and to sign open and transparent contracts with employers and foreign workers/immigrants;
  • Requires employers to be registered with the Government of Saskatchewan;
  • Forbids recruitment fees or costs being charged to foreign workers;
  • Forbids unethical conduct against foreign workers/immigrants, like withholding documents or other property, threatening deportation or providing false information;
  • Allows foreign workers and immigrants to seek compensation if they incur costs resulting from violations of the act; and
  • Allows for penalties to be given. This may include:
    • The loss of an immigration consultant or recruiter’s right to practice in Saskatchewan;
    • The loss of an employer’s ability to hire foreign workers;
    • Fines of up to $50,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a corporation; as well as
    • Up to one-year imprisonment for those violating the Act.
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2. Employer Obligations

As an employer, you are responsible for:

  • Registration with the Government of Saskatchewan’s Employer Engagement Unit, except:
    • When hiring foreign nationals who hold open work permits; or
    • When the employer is an agency of a foreign government (e.g., diplomatic posts).
  • To pay all costs of hiring foreign workers, including recruiter costs; and
  • Making sure the recruiters and immigration consultants you hire are licensed. View current lists of:

You can recommend an immigration consultant to a foreign worker, but your worker is free to choose their own immigration consultant. They can also choose to complete the immigration process without a consultant.

As an employer, you can not:

  • Give misleading or incorrect information about the job opportunity, the services being provided by consultants, or any other part of the recruitment process;
  • Take the passport, work permit, or any other legal document or personal property of the foreign worker;
  • Threaten to have the foreign worker deported;
  • Communicate with the foreign worker's family members, relatives, or friends if asked not to; or
  • Threaten to take action against a foreign worker for making a complaint or for participating in an investigation by government or law enforcement.  

Employers who violate the Act can:

  • Face fines of:
    • up to $50,000 for an individual; and
    • $100,000 for a company.
  • Face up to one-year in jail, in extreme cases.
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3. Immigration Consultant and Foreign Worker Recruiter Obligations

The FWRISA helps ensure immigration consultants and recruiters conduct business in an ethical manner. These representatives must be licensed under FWRISA before they can practice in Saskatchewan.

  • Exemption:  Lawyers who are in good standing in a provincial or territorial law society in Canada don’t need to be licensed or members of the ICCRC.

Learn about the responsibilities of immigration consultants and foreign worker recruiters.

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4. Protections for Foreign Workers and Immigrants

Throughout the immigration or recruitment process, immigration consultants and recruiters cannot:

  • Charge you to be recruited for a job. The employer must pay all recruitment costs;
  • Provide misleading or incorrect information about the job opportunity, fees, services, or any other aspect of the recruitment process;
  • Take your passport, work permit, any other legal documents or personal property;
  • Threaten to have you deported;
  • Communicate with your family members, relatives, or friends if you ask them not to do so; or
  • Refuse to recruit you for a Saskatchewan employer unless you purchase other services such as immigration consulting.

In addition:

  • Make sure you sign the Ethical Conduct Disclosure and Declaration Form before you receive services from an immigration consultant. The form states the ethical behaviour you should expect from your consultant.
  • Your immigration consultant must sign a contract with you. This contract must:
    • Be easy to understand;
    • List all the services and their costs; and
    • Describe any added expenses you will be expected to pay. You don’t have to pay for services not identified in the contract.

Once you enter Canada and are working in Saskatchewan, you will have the same protection other employees receive under provincial labour laws.

Learn more about selecting an immigration consultant or recruiter, how to avoid fraud and other unethical practices on the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

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5. Getting Help

Contact the Program Integrity and Legislation Unit (PILU) if you:

  • Have questions about the FWRISA;
  • Believe your rights have been violated; or
  • Want to file a complaint.

The PILU works to protect immigrants and foreign workers in Saskatchewan.

You don’t need permission to contact the PILU and all your information will be kept confidential. They may also refer you to another agency that may be able to address your concerns better.

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