03/31/2015 10:08 EDT | Updated 05/31/2015 05:59 EDT

Temporary foreign workers facing deadline, consultant says situation serious

SASKATOON - The clock is ticking for thousands of temporary foreign workers across the country as many will see their work permits expire April 1.

It used to be they just had to re-apply but new rules require them to leave the country for at least four years before re-applying.

Saskatoon-based immigration consultant Edward Ryan tells radio station CKOM there is an exception — if a worker has an application in to become a permanent resident, they're spared from deportation.

Ryan says he urged his clients to get their paperwork in order well ahead of the deadline, and they all managed to get it taken care of.

He also says the provincially run Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program gives temporary workers in the province an advantage when it comes to gaining permanent residency.

He says Alberta, on the other hand, doesn't have as generous a program or it isn't quick enough to accommodate the deadlines.

All told, the rule change is expected to affect as many as 70,000 people across the country.

Ryan says it's important to remember that all temporary workers who got their permits after 2011 will soon face the same issue.

"The problem doesn't disappear on April 1, 2015," he says. "The people who came on April 1, 2012, are going to be hit by the same thing on April 1, 2016."