The Citizenship and Employment Precarity (CEP) research project seeks to gain insight into the ways citizenship and legal status trajectories impact employment possibilities and job quality over time. The project will conduct a survey of persons living in the GTA who entered Canada without permanent residence to analyze the relationship between changes in legal status and citizenship, job precarity and overall health.

Why research precarious legal status and work?

Changes in immigration policy have doubled the number of temporary workers entering Canada in the last 10 years and tripled the number of these workers still present in Canada over the same period. Adding figures for the other temporary entrance sub-categories (international students, refugee claimants and “other”) drives up the number of people with forms of precarious legal status who enter, work, and perhaps remain in Canada.

Pathways to permanent residency and citizenship are expensive, time consuming and increasingly limited to those who are “high-skilled.” With ever increasing numbers of temporary foreign workers, international students, refugee claimants and others who come to work, study and perhaps stay in Canada, it is important we understand the impact of legal status upon entry on long-term job prospects and other quality of life measures.

What impact will spending time in temporary legal status situations have on a person’s long-term job prospects and health outcomes?  What impacts will this have on Canadian society?

Study Participants

We will interview persons who arrived in Canada with precarious legal status, i.e. not  permanent resident/landed immigrant arrivals, who have been employed at least 6 of the previous 9 months, have lived in Canada for at least 3 years and currently reside in the GTA. Study participants include:

  • Temporary foreign workers
  • International students
  • Refugees and refugee claimants
  • Persons who arrived as visitors
  • Denied refugee claimants
  • Visa over-stayers
  • Permanent residents and Canadian Citizens who arrived in Canada with precarious legal status (see categories above).

To get a mix of participants that reflect the demographics of the GTA, we will close the survey to specific groups when targets are reached.


  • The collection of empirical evidence on the intersections of precarious legal status and precarious work
  • Increased knowledge of the legal status trajectories of PLS migrants and the impact of different sets of trajectories on long-term employment outcomes
  • Increased knowledge on the impact of PLS on financial debt, food security, family separation, health and well-being
  • Increased knowledge of the role of settlement, employment and social service agencies in helping precarious legal status migrants gain secure status and decent work
  • Enhanced resources (such as clear language materials and advocacy tools) for advocacy groups, service providers and policy makers

Project Team