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Q & A: “Temporary Foreign Workers” De-Mystifying the Canadian Employment Authorization Process

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Q. Did you know that skilled foreign professionals can obtain legal status to work in Canada in as little as one to ten days?

Answer: Relocating temporary foreign workers to Canada is a truly viable — though under-utilized — solution to the ongoing shortage of qualified Canadian employees.

To remain competitive in today’s global market, Canadian employers must take greater advantage of the ever-growing pool of qualified foreign workers. Yet some Canadian businesses are still of the opinion that it is too complicated and time-consuming to fill local openings with skilled professionals from abroad. Perhaps recruiting policies would change if Canadian employers knew that legal status to work in Canada can, in many cases, be obtained in a matter of days.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for example, citizens of the United States and Mexico can apply for work permits (called Employment Authorizations in Canada) directly at a Canadian border crossing. The most common NAFTA application relates to skilled professionals, such as computer systems analysts, management consultants, engineers, scientists/technicians, health workers and accountants. In addition, companies with offices on both sides of the border can transfer many of their employees to and from Canada under NAFTA. There is generally no delay whatsoever for these types of applications.

Qualified software developers from anywhere in the world also benefit from expedited Employment Authorization processing. Candidates must generally apply at a Canadian Visa Office abroad, and will usually receive their permission to work in as soon as one day or up to six weeks, depending on the Visa Office involved and whether medical examinations are required.

Employment situations for which Employment Authorizations can be easily obtained are many. Suffice it to say that Canadian employers who enquire into the attractive programs offered under Canada’s immigration rules may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Please consult the Temporary Employment Visa Calculator to obtain a preliminary indication of a foreign individual’s eligibility to work in Canada on a temporary basis. You may also wish to complete our Temporary Employment Questionnaire for a free in-depth evaluation of the particular circumstances of your proposed Canadian work/employment arrangement.