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Canada temporary foreign worker permit

Canada gave 20% more temporary foreign worker visas in 2022 as labor shortages worsened

Canada gave more temporary foreign worker permits in 2022

As the Canada’s post-COVID labour crisis worsens, the country issued more temporary foreign worker permits in 2022 to bring in more foreign workers.

The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals that the agency was desperate to attract foreign skilled workers to the country.

Canada continues to experience severe labour shortages due to the COVID pandemic. This is aggravated also by the country’s ageing and retiring population.

Canada’s conditions present great opportunities for foreign nationals who desire to move to Canada under any of its several Express Entry economic immigration programs.

In 2022, a record-breaking number of foreign workers received permits through IRCC’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program  (TFWP) and International Mobility Program (IMP).

The two programs resulted in over 500,000 foreigners who got Canadian temporary work permits in 2022. In comparison, the total temporary work permits issued in 2021 was 414,170.

What is Temporary Foreign Worker Program  (TFWP)?

Canada offers several options with respect to work authorization that have similar eligibility criteria to the H1-B visas. They also present the possibility of the foreign worker transiting to permanent resident and citizen.

Canada’s TFWP allows foreign workers to come to work in Canada temporarily in many areas. These include:

  • Agriculture
  • Accommodation and Food Services
  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Retail Trade, and also
  • Manufacturing

IRCC has a tool on its webpage at Do you need a work permit to work in Canada? to check if you need a temporary foreign worker permit and how to apply.

Quick steps to apply for TFWP Visa

Step 1: Do I need a work permit to work in my job in Canada?

The first thing is to check if you need a temporary foreign worker permit to work temporarily in Canada. You usually need a work permit to do any work in Canada. However, in some cases, you can work without a permit.

Use the tool on IRCC’s webpage at Do you need a work permit to work in Canada? to check if you need a temporary foreign worker permit.

Step 2: Am I eligible for temporary foreign worker permit?

The basic eligibility requirements for temporary foreign worker permit are that you must:

  • prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your work permit expires;
  • show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada and to return home;
  • obey the law and have no record of criminal activity (IRCC may ask you to give us a police clearance certificate);
  • not be a danger to Canada’s security;
  • be in good health and have a medical exam, if needed;
  • not plan to work for an employer listed with the status “ineligible” on the list of employers who failed to comply with the conditions;
  • not plan to work for an employer who, on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages; and also
  • give the officer any other documents they ask for to prove you can enter the country.

Step 3: Apply for the right work permit for your situation

There are 2 types of work permits.

Employer-specific work permit

An employer-specific work permit lets you work in Canada according to the conditions on your work permit, such as

  • the name of the specific employer you can work for
  • how long you can work
  • the location where you can work (if applicable)

Before you apply for an employer-specific work permit, your employer must give you

If your employer does not need to use the Employer Portal to submit an offer of employment, they must give you a copy of the employment contract.

Open work permit

An open work permit lets you work for any employer in Canada, except for one that

You can only get an open work permit in specific situations.

Not sure which one you should get? Go to IRCC’s website to fFind out what type of work permit you need for your situation.

Step 4: Get positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from your employer

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker.

A positive LMIA will show that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job. It will also show that no Canadian worker or permanent resident is available to do the job. A positive LMIA is sometimes called a confirmation letter.

Your employer should check if it needs an LMIA, and how to apply for one.

See also How to work in Canada without LMIA from your employer.

Once your employer gets the LMIA, you can apply for a Canada foreign temporary worker permit.

In a nutshell, to apply for the work permit, you need:

What is International Mobility Program (IMP)?

A foreign skilled worker can get a temporary work permit without LMIA through Canada’s International Mobility Program (IMP).

Unlike the TFWP under which permits depend on specific labour market needs, the IMP enables Canadian employers to hire foreigners for a number of non-economic and socio-cultural policy reasons.

In most cases, the employer has to submit an offer of employment through RCC’s Employer Portal. Thereafter, the temporary foreign worker must apply to IRCC for a work permit.

Once the temporary foreign worker arrives in Canada, there are certain conditions and responsibilities that the employer must meet.

Positions exempt from requiring a LMIA are those which:

  • Provide broad economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada, and
  • Provide reciprocal benefits for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Workers who are eligible for the IMP include:

  • Those entering Canada as part of trade treaties, such as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) or the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).
  • Workers entering Canada on an open work permit.
  • Those entering Canada as intra-company transferees.

Canada International Mobility Programs

International Mobility Programs
Program/StreamWho Can Apply?
The Post Graduation Work Permit ProgramForeigners who have studied at and graduated from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
Reciprocal Youth Exchange AgreementsFor those between the ages of 18 and 30 years of age who want to travel and work in Canada, e.g. under the International Experience Canada (IEC) –
International Free Trade AgreementsNorth American Free Trade Agreement;Canada-Chile FTA/Canada-Peru FTA/Canada-Columbia FTA/Canada-Korea FTA/;Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA); andGeneral Agreement On Trade In Services.
The Intra-Company Transfer ProgramThose planning to transfer to a Canadian branch of the company they currently work for
The Bridging Open Work PermitThose who want to work in Canada and are in the transition phase of becoming a permanent resident
Circumstances of Social or Cultural Benefit to CanadaThose who can contribute to Canada in a significant way through programs such as the Mobilité Francophone Program. This will be reliant on the applicants past successes, recommendations and testimonials from those in a relevant field of expertise.

Job offers via the IMP must be made through the IRCC’s Employer Portal. Employers must register a profile to use the Employer Portal.

Extensive details of the job being offered must be entered into the portal, including a list of duties, the minimum education requirement, experience required, plus wages and benefits.

The information entered could be used in federal government employer compliance audits.

Employers submitting a job offer will receive an offer of employment number. The foreign worker requires this number to complete their work permit application.

Once the work permit application is approved, the foreign worker receives:

  • A letter of introduction if they are outside Canada, or
  • A new work permit if they are already in Canada, or applying at the time of entry.

The letter of introduction is exchanged for a work permit at the port of entry, provided all the requirements are still met.

TFWP vs IMP comparison

LMIA requiredNo LMIA required
Work permits are closed (employer-specific)Work permits may be open or closed
Labour market-based (to fill shortages on a temporary basis)To advance Canada’s broader economic and cultural interests
Based on specific labour needs based on occupation and regionBased partially on international reciprocal agreements (e.g. IEC, NAFTA, CETA)
Streams applications based on the wage of the position offeredDoes not stream applications based on the wage offered, but certain streams take occupation skill level into account
Typically requires employers to search for Canadian workers before being able to hire a foreign workerEmployers may hire without first offering the position to Canadians
Employers hiring for high-wage positions usually must provide a transition planEmployers do not have to provide a transition plan
Employer pays fee for LMIA application ($1,000)Employer pays compliance fee ($230) unless job applicant holds an open work permit (in which case, no fee is required)
Two-week processing standard is only available for certain occupations and top 10% wage earners, otherwise the process can run to many monthsMany IMP streams have a two-week work permit processing standard
Overseen by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)Overseen by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

See also Nearly 995000 Canada job vacancies as of September 2022