Employers in Canada hire thousands of international skilled and unskilled workers through more than 100+ work permit pathways. More work permits are being issued to immigrants every year. These numbers have been significantly on the rise since 2015 and shows no sign of stopping.
Canada has a relatively low employment rate and an abundance of job opportunities. As a result, there are more jobs open than there are workers to fill them. The Canadian government through its immigration programs aims to welcome foreign workers to support and sustain the country’s labor market shortages.
In order to legally work in Canada, such foreign workers need a work permit. A Canadian employer might also need to do a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in order to hire a foreign worker.
In this write-up, we’ll be going through the two most popular Canada work permit programs and how employers can use them to hire foreign workers.
There are two primary work permit programs offered by Canada: The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and International Mobility Program (IMP).
The only key difference between the two most sought-after work permits is that the TFWP requires employers to get an LMIA – whereas the IMP doesn’t. Additionally, an IMP work permit is LMIA-exempt.
The TFWP was established to address labor market shortages in Canada. Employers seeking to hire workers under this program need to go through the LMIA process. This process will be a justification to the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that the hiring of a foreign worker is due to the shortage of suitable workers. The ESDC then does an LMIA audit to confirm that the worker will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labor market.
Once the employer receives a positive report, they can send a copy of it to the foreign worker they seek to hire. The worker can then submit the same with their work permit application to the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
The IMP on the other hand is more focused on supporting Canada’s renowned social, cultural, and economic objectives. As we said above, the IMP does not require an LMIA.
IMP work permits have been the root cause of many of Canada’s free trade agreements. The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) is one such example.
The CUSMA is a free trade agreement that permits citizens of the U.S and Mexico to work and live in Canada without an LMIA. Canada also offers international student graduates and eligible spouses and common-law partners an open work permit under the IMP. Openwork permits allow workers to accept any job offer in Canada regardless of the employer or occupation. All open work permits fall under the International Mobility Program – meaning employers do not require an LMIA to hire these workers.
The first step is to get an LMIA for the work permit you wish to apply for. There are numerous application processes that have facilitated the LMIA process and the Global Talent Stream is one such example.
The LMIA also depends on the type of program you seek to hire the worker from. They are usually broken down into the following four major categories:
Having now acquired the LMIA, you can now give the same to the foreign employee to apply to the IRCC. They also need to submit a valid job offer letter and include information about their compensation, job duties, and employment terms.
If the employee is approved – they will receive a letter of introduction and then they’ll be eligible to get their work permit from a Border Services Officer (BSO) when they arrive in Canada.
Employers need to check the work permit exemption and LMIA exemption codes, while identifying the scenarios that do not require an LMIA to hire a foreign worker. Some of the popular ones include:
Employers seeking to hire under the IMP need to pay an employer compliance fee and submit an offer of employment form through IRCC’s Employer Portal. This step is done before the foreign worker can apply for a work permit.
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