If you are applying for a Canadian work permit or are currently on a Canadian work permit there is an important time frame that you need to keep in mind.
As of April 1, 2011 temporary foreign workers can only work in Canada for a cumulative duration of four years. What this means is that if you have worked for a total period of four years in Canada you will have to wait four years to apply for another work permit. Officers will also take this time period into consideration when issuing any new work permits. For example, if you have worked in Canada for a total cumulative duration of two years then they would only issue your new permit up to a maximum of two years.
The work which can be counted towards your total cumulative period can include both work which was done on a work permit and work which was done under R186 as being work permit exempt. This also includes volunteer work. It is important to note however that any work done while in Canada as a full time student on a valid study permit will not count towards the cumulative period.
There are several exceptions to the four year cumulative duration rule, which include work done under certain occupation codes, jobs exempt from Labour Market Opinions, work done under certain foreign trade agreements, and in some cases, those who are applying for permanent residency.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada expected this rule to begin affecting work permit applicants this year.