Temporary Foreign Worker Program

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Temporary Foreign Worker Program

LMIA Overview

In most cases, a Canadian employer wishing to hire a foreign worker must first receive government approval before the hiring can take place. This comes in the form of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).

In order to receive a positive LMIA, the Canadian government employee reviewing an application must determine that the hiring of a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour market. Among other factors, it must be clear that no qualified Canadians were passed up in favour of the foreign worker, and that the foreign worker will be given a salary and benefits that meet federal and provincial standards.

The LMIA process is different depending on whether the targeted employee is classified as “high-wage” or “low-wage”. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage are considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above are considered high-wage. Depending on whether a prospective employee is classified as high-wage or low-wage, certain specific provisions apply.

Generally speaking, all Canadian employers must provide evidence that they have attempted to find qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill job positions before turning to foreign workers. In addition, employers may be inspected for compliance with government regulations after their employee has begun working in Canada.


Regular LMIA

The LMIA process is different depending on whether the targeted employee is classified as “high-wage” or “low-wage”. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage are considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above are considered high-wage. 

High-Wage Workers

Employers seeking to hire high-wage workers must submit transition plans along with their LMIA application to ensure that they are taking steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time.

Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory
Province/TerritoryWage ($/hr) as of May 11, 2020
Alberta$27.28
British Columbia$25.00
Manitoba$21.60
New Brunswick$20.12
Newfoundland and Labrador$23.00
Northwest Territories$34.36
Nova Scotia$20.00
Nunavut$32.00
Ontario$24.04
Prince Edward Island$20.00
Quebec$23.08
Saskatchewan$24.55
Yukon$30.00

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2017 and 2018

Low-Wage Workers

Employers seeking to hire low-wage workers do not need to submit transition plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). They must, however, follow a different set of guidelines.

Employers offering a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage must:

  1. pay for round-trip transportation for the temporary foreign worker;
  2. ensure affordable housing is available;
  3. pay for private health insurance until workers are eligible for provincial health coverage;
  4. register the temporary foreign worker with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board; and
  5. provide an employer-employee contract.

Expediting a LMIA

According to the IRCC website, LMIAs will be provided within a 10-business-day service standard for workers in the following occupational categories:

Highest-demand occupations

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to skilled trades positions where the wage offered is at or above the provincial/territorial median wage. These positions are essential to the development of major infrastructure and natural resource extraction projects, and are therefore considered vital to Canadian economic growth.

List of skilled trades eligible for 10-day speed of service:

NOC 2006NOC 2011Occupation title
72127202Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
72157204Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades
72197205Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers
72717271Carpenters
72167301Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades
72177302Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews
82118211Supervisors, logging and forestry
82218221Supervisors, mining and quarrying
82228222Contractors and supervisors, oil and gas drilling services
82418241Logging machinery operators
8252 / 82538252Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
92119211Supervisors, mineral and metal processing
92129212Supervisors, petroleum, gas and chemical processing and utilities
92149214Supervisors, plastic and rubber products manufacturing
92319231Central control and process operators, mineral and metal processing
7351 / 73529241Power engineers and power systems operators
94249243Water and waste treatment plant operators
72317231Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors
72617233Sheet metal workers
72637235Structural metal and plate work fabricators and fitters
72647236Ironworkers
72657237Welders and related machine operators
72417241Electricians (except industrial and power system)
72427242Industrial electricians
72437243Power system electricians
72447244Electrical power line and cable workers
72457245Telecommunications line and cable workers
72467246Telecommunications installation and repair workers
72517251Plumbers
72527252Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers
72537253Gas fitters
7311 / 73177311Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
73127312Heavy-duty equipment mechanics
73137313Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics
73147314Railway carmen/women
73157315Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors
73187318Elevator constructors and mechanics
73717371Crane operators
73727372Drillers and blasters– surface, mining, quarrying and construction
73737373Water well drillers
82318231Underground production and development miners
82328232Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers
92329232Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators

Highest-paid occupations ­

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers hiring temporary foreign workers in the highest-paid occupations that offer wages in the top 10 percent of wages earned by Canadians in a given province or territory where the job is located. This wage level indicates that a temporary foreign worker is the highest-skilled in their occupation, and that those skills are difficult to find in the Canadian labour market.

Top 10% wage earners eligible for 10-day speed of service:

Province/TerritoryHourly wages prior to May 11, 2020 Hourly wages effective May 11, 2020
Alberta$52.00$52.20
British Columbia$44.00$45.00
Manitoba$42.00$43.27
New Brunswick$39.00$39.90
Newfoundland and Labrador$43.96$45.00
Northwest Territories$58.60$59.52
Nova Scotia$40.87$40.87
Nunavut$55.00$58.00
Ontario$47.12$48.08
Prince Edward Island$37.50$38.46
Quebec$42.56$44.23
Saskatchewan$46.00$46.15
Yukon$48.00$48.08

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2018 and 2019

Shortest-duration occupations

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers requesting temporary foreign workers for a short duration, defined as 120 calendar days or less, in any occupation where the wage offered is at or above the provincial or territorial median wage. Positions falling under this category include those related to repairs or manufacturing equipment and warranty work.

Express entry

The job offer is to support a skilled worker’s application for permanent residence under one of the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Express Entry eligible programs.


Agriculture Stream

The Agricultural Stream allows employers to hire Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) for a maximum period of 24 months when Canadians and permanent residents are not available.

You can only hire a temporary foreign agricultural worker in occupations and activities related to primary agriculture.

Primary agriculture is defined as work duties that must:
  1. be performed within the boundaries of a farm, nursery or greenhouse
  2. involve at least one activity, such as:
    • operation of agricultural machinery
    • boarding, care, breeding, sanitation or other handling of animals, other than fish, for the purpose of obtaining raw animal products for market
    • collection, handling and assessment of those raw products, or the planting, care, harvesting or preparation of crops, trees, sod or other plants for market
  3. be consistent with one of these National Occupational Classification codes: 0821, 0822, 8252, 8255, 8431, 8432, and 8611
To qualify for this stream, employers must meet 2 criteria:
  1. production must be in specific commodity sectors, and
  2. the activity must be related to on-farm primary agriculture
National commodity list:
  1. apiary products
  2. fruits, vegetables (including canning/processing of these products if grown on the farm)
  3. mushrooms
  4. flowers
  5. nursery-grown trees including Christmas trees, greenhouses/nurseries
  6. pedigreed canola seed
  7. sod
  8. tobacco
  9. bovine
  10. dairy
  11. duck
  12. horse
  13. mink
  14. poultry
  15. sheep
  16. swine


Owner Operator

For many businesspersons around the world, Canada is the logical choice to embark upon a new business venture or for expanding an existing business. 

Generally, to obtain a work permit, a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) must first be conducted and approved. As part of the LMIA process, Canadian employers must demonstrate that employing a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral impact on the Canadian labour market, and that there is currently no Canadian citizen or permanent resident available to fill the position, which is typically done by advertising the position on several venues. 

If entrepreneurs had to surrender the helm of their Canadian company due to a lengthy and convoluted work permit application process, most of them would look elsewhere to start or expand their business. Fortunately, the government of Canada understands this and has had the foresight effectively address these concerns with the Owner/Operator LMIA stream.

Majority business owners (over 50% ownership) may be eligible for a work permit under the Owner/Operator stream, and as such, exempt from the advertising requirements of the LMIA. This facilitates the process greatly, as this is usually the most difficult hurdle of a LMIA and its ancillary work permit application.

The main purpose of this LMIA stream is to provide a facilitated route through which foreign nationals can enter Canada to run their business. Quite understandably, most business owners are protective of their company and are adamant about personally overseeing its operation in order to ensure it is running according to their specifications.

Last Modified / 最后修改: Jul 09, 2021

2 Responses

  1. I am a graduate nurse licenced to practice as a nurse and midwife in my country Nigeria.
    I have passed the IELTS academic with an overall score of 7.5 and have also passed the UK CBT in the process of being registered in UK. However I would like to explore the possibility of practicing as a qualified nurse in Canada.

    1. Please fill up online assessment form and an consultant will contact you to discuss further. Thanks

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