Filling gaps in the Canadian labour market with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is a program intended to help Canadian employers find workers with highly specialized skills when they are unable to find the appropriate skill set among Canadians or permanent residents.
Why does Canada have a TFWP?
TFWP is designed to fill gaps in the Canadian labour market. These shortages happen when there are not enough Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill vacant positions. This is becoming more prevalent as many Canadians are reaching retirement age and the birth rate is too low to make up the shortfall.
When a Canadian employer cannot find anyone in Canada with the necessary skills to fill the position, they may submit a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to Employment and Social Development Canada (EDSC).If the LMIA comes back positive or neutral, the employer may hire a worker from abroad to come to Canada and fill the position.
About the LMIA
A LMIA provides EDSC with the information it needs to evaluate if there is a genuine need to hire a foreign worker and if doing so will have a positive, neutral, or negative impact on the Canadian labour market. If it is determined that there are Canadians or permanent residents already in Canada who could do the job, and are seeking employment, the request may be declined
To be eligible for an LMIA, there are several steps an employer needs to take to demonstrate that they have made every effort to find and hire a candidate from within Canada.
- Job vacancies must be advertised across the Canadian job market for at least four weeks.
- The job must be posted on the Canada Job Bank.
- Employers must demonstrate that they have tried at least two additional recruitment methods such as specialized websites, regional job fairs or local newspapers.
- Employers must also attest that they are aware that it is prohibited to lay off or cut the hours of their currently employed Canadian workers.
There may be exceptions to these rules depending on the type of job vacancy and it is worth consulting with an expert to ensure you are meeting the mandatory advertising requirements.
High and low wage LMIAs
There are two reasons to hire a TFW and this can impact the type of LMIA an employer must submit. If the position is for a highly specialized job that pays a wage equal to or more than the provincial median wage, they must apply through the high wage position stream.
Employers who are seeking to fill positions that are considered low wage will need to apply through the low wage position stream. This is the stream typically used for hiring seasonal, agricultural, tourism or factory workers. It is important to note that in most low wage positions, employers have a 20% cap meaning only 20% of employees can be TFWs. The cap may rise to 30% depending on the industry.
How to immigrate to Canada with a TFWP
After an employer has hired a TFW, the candidate must submit their work permit application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) along with a job offer letter, a contract, a copy of the LMIA, and the LMIA number. IRCC processing times can vary.
TFWP work permits are considered ‘closed’ work permits, meaning that while a worker is in Canada, they will not be able to find work with another employer and will only be able to work for the length of time set out in their contract.
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