Canadian employers hire thousands of foreign workers every year through over 100 different work permit pathways and aside from 2020 with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers of foreign workers hired have been going up since 2015 and it is not slowing down anytime soon.

There are a lot of job opportunities in Canada presently and this is as a result of the job vacancies. There are more jobs open than there are qualified workers to fill them.

According to Statistics Canada, for every 100 positions in December, employers were seeking to fill an average of 5.2% job vacancies, up from 3 in the fourth quarter of 2019. This increase in job vacancies also happened with the fall in the unemployment rate in Canada which was about 5.4% in December 2021 which is the lowest since December 2019 when it was 5.2%.

So, there are sectors and occupations with high number of job vacancies and there are no enough workers in Canada to fill these job vacancies and so employers believe that hiring foreign workers will help fill up labour shortages and contribute to their company growth.

For a foreign worker to work in Canada, they will need a work permit and in some cases, the employer will have to do the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) which show that there are no Canadian citizen or permanent resident available for the job and so there is a need to hire a foreign worker to fill up the job position.

However, the majority of work permit that are issued in a given year do not need LMIA.

LMIA And LMIA-Exempt Work Permits

These are the two categories of work permit that are issued in Canada and we will be discussing them exclusively and show you their requirements.

The two major work permit programs are the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP).

While the TFWP requires employers to get an LMIA, the IMP doesn’t require LMIA and so it is LMIA-exempt.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The TFWP is to help employers hire foreign skilled workers to come fill up labour shortages and employers must have LMIA issued by the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) showing that there is no Canadian or permanent resident available for the work and so there is a need to hire foreign workers.

The ESDC will assess the LMIA to confirm that hiring a foreign worker will not have any negative impact in the Canadian labour market. Once the employer receives the positive or neutral LMIA, they will provide a copy to the foreign worker who will then submit it along with their work permit application to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

After this, the employee can start working once their work permit application has been approved.

International Mobility Program

The IMP is designed to support Canada’s broad social, cultural and economic objectives and so there is no point of undergoing a labour market test. There are a lot of IMP work permits that are a result of Canada’s free trade agreements.

Like the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) which is a prominent free trade agreement that allows the US and Mexican citizens to work in Canada without an LMIA.

With the IMP, youths from any part of the world can work in Canada due to the youth mobility agreement between Canada and certain countries of the world.

Also, international students graduates are allowed to work in Canada with an open work permit through the IMP and also their spouses and common-law partners.

The open work permit allows foreign workers to work for any employer in Canada, any province or city and in any job position. So with the open work permit, foreign workers do not need an LMIA.

How To Hire A Foreign Worker Under The TFWP

As an employer that wants to hire a foreign worker through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), you must first complete the LMIA requirements for the work permit that you wish to apply for. There are some specialized application processes and some of them have a facilitated LMIA process.

The Global Talent Stream is one of the work permit programs that allows employers to skip the advertising requirements and allows eligible tech workers to get their documents processed in as short as two weeks.

The LMIA application process will depend on the type of program you are hiring through and it is divided into four categories and they are:

  • High-wage workers
  • Low-wage workers
  • Agricultural stream
  • Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program

After you get the LMIA, you will have to give a copy to your foreign employee to apply for work permit to IRCC. They will also need to submit a job offer letter or contract letter which will show information about their job duty, conditions of employment (hours of work), wages or salary and deductions from their wages or salary.

If the foreign worker gets approved, they will receive a letter of introduction and then they can get their work permit from a border services officer when they arrive in Canada. If they are already in Canada then IRCC will mail them the work permit.

How To Hire Foreign Worker Under The IMP

In the program, employers can check the LMIA exemption codes and work permit exemption codes for the list of situations where they could hire a foreign worker without needing a LMIA.

Some of the common IMP work permit programs are:

  • Post-Graduate Work Permit

This is the most common work permit under the IMP and it is for international student graduates of a Designated Learning Institution in Canada. These international graduates are allowed to get an open work permit to work in Canada for up to three years depending on the duration of their study program.

  • Business Visitors

These are for foreign workers who will be in Canada for less than six months and who will not be entering the labour market.

  • International Experience Canada

Canada has an agreement with over 30 countries to allows youths from those countries to gain Canadian work experience

  • Bridging Open Work Permit

Skilled workers who are living in Canada can apply for the BOWP while their permanent residence application is being processed. Eligible spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents can get a BOWP if they are living in Canada.

  • Television and Film

Canada also welcomes entertainment industry workers to help support its flourishing TV and film industry.


The citizens of the US and Mexico are eligible for work permit under this IMP program.

  • Intra-company transfer

This program allows employers to transfer certain workers to their offices in Canada.

For an employer to hire through the IMP, they need to pay an employer compliance fee and submit an offer of employment form through IRCC’s Employer Portal. This has to be done before the foreign worker can apply for a work permit in Canada.

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