The Temporary Foreign Worker Program allows employers to hire foreign workers to fill temporary labour and skill shortages. Employers can hire workers abroad or already in Canada. Examples of qualified foreign workers already in Canada include those who are about to complete a job contract with another employer or those holding an open work permit that allows the employee to work for any employer in Canada.
The program can be used to hire foreign workers for up to four years.
- Processing times: Vary depending on where and how the application is made.
- The foreign worker is responsible for the application process; however, the employer may need to seek approval from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) through a labour market opinion. This verifies that there is a need for a foreign worker and that there is no Canadian available. To find out what a foreign worker must do to come to Canada, see Working temporarily in Canada: Who can apply.
This roadmap is a guide for employers in small to medium-sized enterprises interested in hiring foreign workers for their organizations
Find out if you need a work permit
You may not need a work permit to work temporarily in Canada. Find out if you need one.
What you should know
If you want to work in Canada, you must understand the following important information:
- Your employer may need to get a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC). An LMO confirms that there is no Canadian or permanent resident available, and the employer can fill the job with a foreign worker.
- Some jobs do not require an LMO. Find out if you need one.
- You must meet the general requirements for entering the country, for staying in Canada and for getting a work permit. This means you may also need a temporary resident visa. Learn more about temporary resident visas.
- A work permit is not an immigration document. It does not allow you to live in Canada permanently. To live in Canada permanently, you must qualify under an immigration category, such as a skilled worker.
- Live–in caregivers who meet certain requirements can apply to stay in Canada permanently.
- Your spouse or common-law partner and your dependent children may apply to come to Canada with you.
Apply for a work permit
Find out if you are eligible to apply for a work permit. You normally have to apply for a work permit from outside Canada. Sometimes, you can apply as you enter Canada or from inside Canada, but many of the requirements are the same.
If your family members want to work in Canada
If you are authorized to work in Canada, your accompanying family members may also be able to work in this country by virtue of the permit you were issued. No other authorization is required. If they intend to work while in Canada, your accompanying family members should find out if they are eligible for an “open” work permit.
Open work permits allow them to work in any job with any employer. An open work permit also means that they may be hired without the employer having to obtain an LMO (the normal authorization required). Certain jobs may require medical checks or licensing from professional organizations. Accompanying family members’ work permits will be valid for no longer than the duration of your own work permit.
Typically, your spouse’s eligibility for an open work permit depends on the skill level of your job. If the job you are doing is listed as a National Occupational Classification (NOC) 0, A or B, your spouse or common-law partner could be eligible for an open work permit. You must also be authorized to work in Canada for a period of at least six months.
If you are working in an occupation that requires a lower level of formal training, your spouse may also be eligible for an open work permit through an active pilot project.
In addition, your dependent children may be eligible for an open work permit through an active pilot project.
Accompanying family members must always apply for their own work permits. They should apply for one at the same time as you, before entering Canada. Should the decision to work occur only after their arrival in Canada, they can apply once they are in this country.
If you are the holder of a Post-Graduation Work Permit, which is a type of open work permit, your spouse will need to attach a copy of your work permit to his or her application for an open work permit. Your spouse will also need to provide information about your employment by attaching supporting documents, including the following:
- A letter from your current employer confirming employment or a copy of your employment offer or contract; AND
- A copy of one of your pay slips.
The requirements and processing times depend on the kind of work you will do when you come to Canada.