Notorious 4-and-4 rule repealed; migrant workers need permanent status, not tinkering

Press Release


Notorious 4-and-4 rule repealed; migrant workers need permanent status, not tinkering


December 14, 2016


Canada,  December 14, 2016 – Since April 2011, migrant worker groups have organized against the 4-and-4 rule, as part of a broader campaign for open work permits and permanent status on landing. The 4-and-4 rule required migrant workers to leave after four years of cumulative employment and banned them from returning for four years. Over 15 cities organized protest and actions in March 2015 as a lead up to the imposition of the 4-and-4 rule which uprooted tens of thousands of migrant workers, and caused mass deportations. Nearly 4,000 people signed petitions. Since October 2015, the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (CMWRC) hascampaigned for the overturn of this rule. On December 13th, the notorious 4-and-4 rule was repealed.


“This repeal is a first step which came about because migrant workers and their allies organized against an unjust rule that resulted in thousands of deportations and migrants becoming undocumented,” says Syed Hussan of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “We need permanent status for migrant workers who stayed here undocumented and for those that were uprooted and forced out, for this change to be really meaningful.”

“There were more than thirty of us who reached our 4 year limit and we fought an uphill battle to stay in Quebec and apply for permanent status,” explains Francisco Mootoo of the Temporary Foreign Workers Association. “Many other migrant workers impacted were unable to do so, and it’s essential that all migrant workers get permanent residence upon arrival.”


“Dozens of our members have been forced to become undocumented or leave Canada because of this badly planned, and badly executed law that seems to have been designed by the previous government simply to show that they were being hard on migrant workers,” adds Anna Malla of the Caregivers’ Action Centre. “Repealing and tinkering is not enough. We need a total overhaul of the system which begins with ensuring permanent status on landing for migrant workers now and a regularization program for workers who have become undocumented.”


In yesterday’s announcement, the Federal Government promised to expand ‘pathways to citizenship’. The Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (CMWRC) believes that ‘pathways’ are a euphemism for maintaining unjust temporariness for low-waged and racialized workers. A pathway is a two stage process, where migrant workers must first complete a temporary sentence of abuse and injustice before a few are selected to compete for permanent status. Low-waged and racialized people deemed to be doing ‘low-skilled’ work deserve permanent status on landing, just as much as those deemed to be doing ‘high skilled’ work.


Migrant workers from across Canada called for a repeal of the 4-and-4 rule and most importantly for permanent status on landing in the recent review of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program in Ottawa.  

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National Media Contacts


  • Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada – Syed Hussan – Migrant Workers Alliance for Change – 1-416-453-3632
  • Immigrant workers center (514) 342-2111
  • Atlantic Canada – Josie Baker – Cooper Institute- 1-902-315-2705
  • British Columbia – Vancouver – Natalie Drolet, 604-669-6452, West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association
  • Ontario – Chris Ramsaroop – Justicia for Migrant Workers / Harvesting Freedom Campaign –1-647-834-4932
  • Prairies – Manitoba – Diwa Marcelino – Migrante Canada – 204-218-710