Employment Insurance Benefits for Foreign Nationals in Canada

Published on: March 24th, 2020

Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) system is available to all eligible workers. This includes all Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and foreign workers on work permits, as long as they are otherwise eligible for benefits.

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Who Qualifies for Employment Insurance Benefits

Under normal circumstances, EI benefits are for employees only. Self-employed individuals do not qualify. 

If you have lost your job due to no fault of your own, you are generally eligible for EI. Situations such as temporary or permanent lay-offs fall under this category.

In order to qualify for EI, you must be actively looking for work. Temporary workers on closed work permits may not qualify due to their inability to work with a new employer, as per the conditions of their work permit.

Open work permit holders should be eligible for EI benefits provided they are demonstrating that they are willing and able to accept work and are actively seeking employment.

Requirements to Qualify for Regular Employment Insurance Benefits

You may be entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits if you:

  • Were employed full-time with a valid employer
  • Lost your job through no fault of your own
  • Have been without work and without pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks
  • Have worked for the required number of insurable employment hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter
  • Are ready, willing and capable of working each day
  • Are actively looking for work (you must keep a written record of employers you contact, including when you contacted them)

The required number of insurable employment hours varies from province to province. Click here to find out the requirement for your region.


Requirements to Qualify for Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

Under normal circumstances, EI sickness benefits can provide you with up to 15 weeks of financial assistance if you cannot work for medical reasons, including illness, injury, quarantine, and other medical conditions. You could receive 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week.

Changes to Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits for COVID-19

Given the current circumstances, the Canadian government is working on extra financial support programs for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have unveiled plans for Emergency Care and Emergency Support benefits. These programs have not yet been passed into legislation and are not set to be rolled out until next month. 

The one-week waiting period for new claimants will be waived if they are under quarantine or self-isolation as mandated by a public health authority. 

We will continue to update this post as more information becomes available.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The Canadian government has announced that it will combine the previously mentioned Emergency Care and Emergency Support benefits to create one financial support system for those who have lost income due to COVID-19 but are not Eligible for EI.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will provide up to $2000 a month for 4 months for Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to employees as well as contract workers, and those who are self-employed.

The portal for the CERB should be available in early April, and applicants are expected to begin receiving benefits within 10 days of submitting their application.

If you’re interested in learning more about making Canada your forever home, complete our free online application and a member of our team will be in touch with you shortly.

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