Temporary Foreign Worker Program
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) allows Canadian employers to hire foreign nationals to fill labour shortages in Canada.
The TFWP is jointly administered by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The program allows Canadian employers to respond to genuine labour shortages by allowing them to hire internationally, while ensuring that Canadian citizens and permanent residents have the first opportunity to apply for open job positions.
Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
In most cases, a Canadian employer wishing to hire a foreign worker must first receive government approval before the hiring can take place.
This comes in the form of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).
In order to receive a positive LMIA, the Canadian government employee reviewing an application must determine that the hiring of a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour market. Among other factors, it must be clear that no qualified Canadians were passed up in favour of the foreign worker, and that the foreign worker will be given a salary and benefits that meet federal and provincial standards.
The LMIA process is different depending on whether the targeted employee is classified as “high-wage” or “low-wage”. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage are considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above are considered high-wage. Depending on whether a prospective employee is classified as high-wage or low-wage, certain specific provisions apply.
Generally speaking, all Canadian employers must provide evidence that they have attempted to find qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill job positions before turning to foreign workers. In addition, employers may be inspected for compliance to government regulations after their employee has begun working in Canada.
Skip to the relevant portion of this page by clicking one of the following options:
- High-Wage Workers
- Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory
- Low-Wage Workers
- Expediting a LMIA
- Advertising Requirements (including exemptions)
- Quebec-specific exemptions and variations
- Global Talent Stream
Employers seeking to hire high-wage workers must submit transition plans along with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to ensure that they are taking steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time. High-wage workers are those earning above the median hourly wage for a given occupation in specified region.
The transition plans are designed to ensure that employers seeking foreign workers are fulfilling the purpose of the program. This entails that they are using the program as a last and limited resort to address immediate labour needs on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available, ensuring that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs.
Certain occupations in Quebec are “facilitated”, meaning that local recruitment efforts do not need to be performed by employers as part of their applications to hire temporary foreign workers for any of the facilitated occupations.
Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory
Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey
Employers seeking to hire low-wage workers do not need to submit transition plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). They must, however, follow a different set of guidelines.
To restrict access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), while ensuring that Canadians are always considered first for available jobs, the Government of Canada has introduced a cap to limit the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers that a business can employ. Furthermore, certain low-wage occupations may be refused for LMIA processing. Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA are subject to a cap of 10 percent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers. This cap will be phased in over 2015 and 2016 in order to provide employers who are above the 10 percent cap time to transition and adjust accordingly.
Employers offering a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage must:
- pay for round-trip transportation for the temporary foreign worker;
- ensure affordable housing is available;
- pay for private health insurance until workers are eligible for provincial health coverage;
- register the temporary foreign worker with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board; and
- provide an employer-employee contract.
As of April 30, 2015, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program uses the latest Labour Force Survey results for the unemployment rates in regions across Canada. These rates determine which regions are eligible for employers to submit Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) for low-wage/lower skilled occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services sector and the Retail Trade sector. LMIA applications for these sectors will not be processed in economic regions where the unemployment rate is 6 per cent or higher.
Given its unique labour market conditions, and as requested by the Government of the Northwest Territories, applications in these sectors for positions located in Yellowknife will be accepted for processing.
The above rates are effective as of April 1, 2016.
Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey
Expediting a LMIA
LMIAs will be provided within a 10-business-day service standard for workers in the following occupational categories:
The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to skilled trades positions where the wage offered is at or above the provincial/territorial median wage. These positions are essential to the development of major infrastructure and natural resource extraction projects, and are therefore considered vital to Canadian economic growth.
The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers hiring temporary foreign workers in the highest-paid occupations that offer wages in the top 10 percent of wages earned by Canadians in a given province or territory where the job is located. This wage level indicated that a temporary foreign worker is the highest-skilled in their occupation, and that those skills are difficult to find in the Canadian labour market.
The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers requesting temporary foreign workers for a short duration, defined as 120 calendar days or less, in any occupation where the wage offered is at or above the provincial or territorial median wage. Positions falling under this category include those related to repairs or manufacturing equipment and warranting work.
After receiving a positive LMIA, the employer should send a copy to their identified foreign worker. The positive LMIA must be included in the worker’s application for a Temporary Work Permit.
A single LMIA can be issued for one or multiple employees. In the case of multiple employees, the LMIA will only be issued to employees who will be filling identical positions as identified by the Canadian National Occupation Classification.
There are several instances where an employer may be exempt from the requirement to secure a LMIA. For more information on LMIA Exemptions, please click here.
To find out if you or your business is eligible to apply for a LMIA, please contact us today.
Employers wishing to hire a temporary foreign worker to Canada must pay a processing fee of CDN $1,000 for each request for a Labour Market Impact Assessment. There is also be an additional $100 privilege fee on employers charged by Employment and Social Development Canada.
English and French are the only languages that can be determined as job requirements, both for LMIAs and for job vacancy advertisements, unless the employer can prove that another language is otherwise required for the position.
In addtion, employers must advertise all job vacancies across the Canadian job market for at least four weeks before applying for a LMIA. Towards this end, employers are required to prove that they have used at least two other recruitment methods in addition to having posted an advertisement on the Canada Job Bank. Employers must focus advertising efforts on groups of Canadians who are under-represented, such as First Nations or persons with disabilities.
Employers are also required to submit a transition plan to ESDC, along with the application for a LMIA, for high-wage positions. This transition plan should indicate how the company plans to reduce its reliance on temporary foreign workers in the future. Proof of investment in skills training or hiring Canadian apprentices are examples of how employers can prove this. Alternatively, employers can demonstrate how they are assisting their high-skilled temporary foreign worker(s) in becoming Canadian permanent residents. If the employer is chosen for an inspection, or if they apply to renew their LMIA, they will be required to report on the progress of the transition plan that they have submitted.
Employers are required to attest to their awareness that they are prohibited from laying off or cutting the hours of Canadian workers working in the same position(s) as the temporary foreign worker(s) working at the company.
Quebec-specific exemptions and variations
This section will look at exemptions and variations to the LMIA process that are specific to the province of Quebec.
Work permits issued to holders of a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ)
A Quebec Selection Certificate/certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ) is a document issued by the government of Quebec to individuals who have been approved for immigration to that province. Holders of a CSQ may work in Quebec without their employer needing to secure a LMIA.
Facilitated list of occupations
industry sectors experiencing high demand for labour are included on what is known as the list of facilitated LMIA occupations for Quebec. Employers in Quebec applying under the facilitated LMIA process are not required to provide proof of recruitment efforts.
Foreign workers who do not fall into either of the above categories may have to apply for and obtain a Certificat d’Acceptation du Quebec(Certificate of Acceptance to Quebec, CAQ) and a temporary work permit before beginning their employment in Quebec.
Global Talent Stream
The Global Talent Stream allows certain skilled workers to obtain a work permit within two weeks of applying. It is one of the pillars of Canada’s Global Skills Strategy, which aims to help innovative companies grow by ensuring they can access the highly skilled talent they need quickly.
Among other initiatives, this new work stream establishes a two-week standard for processing of work permit applications (and temporary resident visas, if applicable) for highly skilled talent. The Global Talent Stream is part of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
There are two categories under the Global Talent Stream.
High-growth companies that can demonstrate a need to recruit unique specialized talent from abroad fall under Category A. Employers in this category must be referred to the Global Talent Stream by a designated referral partner.
As of June 12, 2017, the list of partners includes the following organizations. This list may be updated periodically.
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
- BC Tech Association
- Business Development Bank of Canada
- Communitech Corporation
- Council of Canadian Innovators
- Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
- Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service
- ICT Manitoba (ICTAM)
- Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada – Accelerated Growth Service
- MaRS Discovery District
- National Research Council – Industrial Research Assistance Program
- Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
- Ontario Ministry of Economic Growth and Development
- VENN Innovation
Employers seeking to hire employees in certain defined categories of the National Occupation Classification (NOC) fall into Category B. These occupations are listed on the Global Talent Occupations List, which may be updated periodically to respond to labour market needs. This list was developed through collaboration between the government, labour market experts and key stakeholders.
Employers in both categories are required to meet conditions relating to the payment of skilled workers. Foreign workers hired through the GTS must be paid at the prevailing wage or higher. The prevailing wage is defined as the highest figure of either:
- the median wage for the occupation on Canada’s Job Bank
- the wage within the range an employer pays current employees in the same position at the same location, with the same skills and experience
- the minimum wage floor as defined in the Global Talent occupations list (if applicable)
Labour Market Benefits Plan
Employers looking to hire skilled workers through the Global Talent Stream are required to work with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to develop a Labour Market Benefits Plan. This plan outlines the positive benefits that foreign talent will bring to the Canadian labour market, and activities that the employer will undertake to encourage job creation, skills and training investments.
Category A employers are required to commit to creating jobs for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This job creation may be direct or indirect.
Category B employers are required to commit to increasing investments in skills and training for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
In addition to the above mandatory benefits, employers in both categories are required to commit to two further complementary benefits, supported by defined activities. These benefits may include, but are not limited to, job creation, investment in skills and training, transferring knowledge to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and/or improving company performance. Activities to support these benefits may include, but are not limited to, hiring more Canadian citizens or permanent residents, training current employees in new techniques, creating paid co-op or internship programs for local students, and/or increasing revenue and investments.
Employers may be monitored to ensure compliance with the Labour Market Business Plan, and to evaluate the successes of the GTS.
Work Permit Exemptions
Under the Global Talent Stream, two new categories of workers are now exempt from the requirement to obtain a work permit.
Highly-skilled workers in skill type 0 or skill level A occupations of the NOC may enter Canada to work for 15 days in a six-month period, or for 30 days in a 12-month period, without obtaining a work permit.
Researchers working on research projects at a publicly-funded degree-granting institution or affiliated research institution may come to Canada for 120 days in a 12-month period, without requiring a work permit.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.