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Want to work in Canada? Here's how.

Question from a reader/viewer of our Facebook account - “My son is applying for work in Canada. May I inquire what the requirements for a Canadian work visa are? He already has an employer and we are just waiting for the LMIA and contract.  What are the next steps to process our visa?”

Crispin ArandaOriginally posted on April 11, 2017; updated April 11, 2017

Want to work in Canada?  Here's how.

Since temporary work visas to the United States are in a state of flux, - as President Donald Trump espouses "Buy American, Hire American" - we shall cross the border up North in response to this query.

Employers in Canada intending to recruit temporary workers from overseas have the option of hiring through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) or the International Mobility Program (IMP). In both cases, the essential question is whether the employer must first obtain a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or not.  If the answer is “yes”, the employer must proceed to apply for and be issued the LMIA by the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) / Service Canada.

To be issued an LMIA, the employer must provide evidence that there is a need for a temporary worker and that no Canadians are available to do the job.  This procedure is similar to the requirement by the U.S. Department of Labor for employers seeking to recruit workers for temporary employment.  However, the procedure is called a Temporary Labor Certification filed with the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the counterpart of ESDC / Service Canada.

In both cases, the employer must establish the shortage of qualified Canadian workers (citizens, residents or those lawfully allowed to work) willing and available for the job being offered.

Employers may also hire a temporary worker without first obtaining an LMIA if the job being offered meets the description of occupations exempt from the LMIA.

The most common examples are those covered by regulations pursuant to “Competitiveness and public policy”: Spouses of skilled workers, students pursuing full time academic studies; those pursuing employment after graduation; Post-doctoral Ph.D. fellows and aware recipients; students authorized to work off campus and Medical residents and fellows.

The most common workers hired temporarily in Canada where an LMIA is needed are foreign workers (1) in a high-wage or low-wage position; (2) being offered a wage below, at or above the median hourly wage; agricultural workers; caregivers.

Hire a temporary foreign worker in a high-wage or low-wage position

The wage being offered for the job being offered determines whether an LMIA is needed or not under this stream.  The current list of high wage and low-wage positions in specific province in Canada as of April 29, 2017 are shown below:

Median hourly wages by province or territory


Wages prior to April 29, 2017 
2015 Wage ($/hour)

Wages as of April 29, 2017 
2016 Wage ($/hour)




British Columbia






New Brunswick



Newfoundland and Labrador



Northwest Territories



Nova Scotia









Prince Edward Island













Caregivers – New and Current Info

Caregiver being recruited for work for eligible Canadian families may now be living in or not with the employer sponsor.  Whether live-in or not, the caregiver must provide care on a full-time basis (minimum 30 hours per week); work in the private household where the care is being provided; and meet the requirements set Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Caregivers are basically in two categories: (1). Caregivers for children under 18 years of age or (2) Caregivers for people with high medical needs. For the first, the common classifications are Child care provider, live-in caregiver or nanny.

 Caregivers for people with high medical needs (elderly persons, 65 years or age or over, or people with disabilities, a chronic or terminal illness) may include Registered nurse or registered psychiatric nurse as well a Licensed practical nurse, and attendant for persons with disabilities, home support worker, live-in caregiver or personal care attendant.

No LMIA required

Certain Canadian employers are exempted from the LMIA requirement under the International Mobility Program (IMP). The Canadian government bases the exemptions from the LMIA process on “broader economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada; and reciprocal benefits enjoyed by Canadians and permanent residents.”

The employer must submit the offer of employment through the Employer portal and pay the $230 employer compliance fee.

There are specific International Mobility Worker Unit (IMWU) for employers whose place of business (the place where the foreign worker will be employed), each may be contacted by email.

  1. The Toronto International Mobility Worker Unit serves the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The email address is  CIC-IMWU-UMIT-Toronto@cic.gc.ca


  1. Montréal International Mobility Worker Unit serves the provinces of Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and  Newfoundland and Labrador. The email address is CIC-UMIT-IMWU-Montreal@cic.gc.ca

Philippine Government Procedures for Foreign Worker Recruitment

Obtaining the LMIA is a requirement of the Canadian government.  After complying with the requirements – establishing that there is a need for a job that no Canadian citizens or permanent residents are available – the LMIA and other documents must first be authenticated by the current Labor Attaché assigned at the appropriate Philippine Overseas Labor Officer (POLO) with the Philippine consulate which has jurisdiction over the employer’s place of business, or where the foreign workers will be employed.

The directory of Labor Attaches – current as of March 2017 - can be reached through this link - http://www.poea.gov.ph/files/POLO%20Directory%20(09March2017).pdf

The employer sends the LMIA and supporting documents to the foreign worker (if being hired directly or to the POEA-licensed recruitment agency if the employer has assigned one in the Philippines).

The foreign worker then submits the LMIA together with the complete application package for a work permit with the Canadian Embassy in Manila.

As of time of writing, the processing time for work permits at the Canadian Embassy in Makati is seven (7) weeks from receipt of complete application package and correct filing fees. This processing time does not include work permits for Post-grad and co-op work permits as well as refugees applying for the initial work permit.

Work Permit Fees

As a reminder, the POEA requires the employer or the appointed licensed recruitment agency in the Philippines to pay for the recruitment and deployment/placement costs – not the applicant.  The work permit fees are $155 or PhP5,335 for individuals; maximum of $465 or PhP16,000 for work permits of three or more performing artists and their staff in a group.  Open work permit holders pay $100.  There is no Philippine peso equivalent since this type of permits are issued in Canada.

Another question related to work permits in Canada;

“I have worked in Calgary Alberta as food attendant.  I was promoted and when I left Canada last year, I was already a Food Service Supervisor.  Can I work in Australia, New Zealand or Canada again?”

Four-year limit.  As of December 13, 2016, the four (4) year limit of working temporarily in Canada had been eliminated. The inquirer may still apply for a new work permit provided the procedures explained above are complied with. However, new applications are checked again to determine eligibility of the foreign worker.  For example, the previous work history could be reviewed for compliance or any violations during the work period.

New Zealand and Australia have different procedures for temporary work permits. A New Zealand employer would be exempted from advertising for local applicants if the occupation is on the Immediate Skills Shortage List.  Australia, on the other hand must comply with the Subclass 457 procedures for recruiting temporary workers.

Permanent Residency with a job offer.  Back to Canada, the same employer may submit an offer of employment to support a foreign worker’s application for permanent residency through the Express Entry.  Where the foreign worker has worked for at least one year with the sponsoring employer, he or she would qualify under the Canadian Experience Class.

We would have to exit for now and enter the Express Entry route next time.

Authors & Contributors

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.

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