Every person working in Canada is required to have a Social Insurance Number (SIN). The SIN is a 9 digit number used to properly administer government benefits and must be verified by the employer.
When gathering the initial employment information from new employees it is the employer’s responsibility to verify accurate SIN information has been provided. As of March 2014 the Government of Canada no longer issues plastic SIN cards and has switched to a paper copy of the SIN. Employees are required by law to provide proof of their SIN in the form of a card (issued before March 2014 that has not expired) or the paper SIN document.
If the employee’s SIN starts with a 9 indicating it is temporary; it must be accompanied by a valid work permit. Temporary SIN’s (numbers that start with 9) are issued to non-residents who are eligible to work temporarily in Canada and have received a work permit. Temporary SIN’s are also issued for international students who are eligible to study in Canada and have received a study permit that includes specific wording regarding the permit holder’s ability to work.
Work permits can be open or closed and are issued with expiry dates. Open work permits are not job, company or location specific; allowing employees to work in almost any field, for any company in any location (within Canada). A closed work permit may be job, company or location specific and requires “authorization from Employment and Social Development Canada (known as a Labour Market Impact Assessment, or LMIA) and proof that an employer has submitted the Offer of Employment form, and paid the employer compliance fee to Citizenship and Immigration Canada when you apply for your work permit” (https://www.canada.ca/en/services/immigration-citizenship.htmlhelpcentre/answer.asp?q=176&t=17) – In conjunction with the guidelines for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development.html).
After a work permit has been issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada the employee must go to a Service Canada office in person to apply for their temporary SIN. The work permit and temporary SIN are not issued together and are under the control of different government agencies. Both are required in order to work in Canada and will have the same expiry date.
The Service Canada office will need original proof of identity documents and the valid work permit from the individual applying for a temporary SIN. Some applicants may also be required to provide their Visa (based on the Country they are from). See: Entry requirements by Country https://www.canada.ca/en/services/immigration-citizenship.htmlvisit/visas-all.asp. If the required documents are provided, a temporary SIN will be issued with the same expiry date as the work permit. http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sin/apply/how.shtml.
With a valid work permit and accompanying temporary SIN the employee is ready to start work.
Since work permits and temporary SINs expire. The employees must exercise diligence in ensuring they have applied for renewal well before the expiry date.
More information can be found on the Government websites. It is important to frequently check the rules and regulations as immigration policies are constantly changing. The above information is true and accurate based on the information found as of September 22, 2015. Citizenship and Immigration: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/immigration-citizenship.html
Service Canada: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/home.shtml
Chelsea Baglien / Human Resources Administrator / PEO Canada