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Temporary Foreign Worker Blues: Ways to Avoid the Dreaded Labour Market Opinion

Temporary Foreign Worker Blues: Ways to Avoid the Dreaded Labour Market Opinion

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) has been all over the news lately with stories of alleged abuse, government crackdowns and wide sweeping changes to make the program more difficult to access.  With a new $1,000 fee and complicated application process for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA” formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion or “LMO”), many employers are faced with a dilemma in recruiting skilled talent for high demand positions.  What many employers do not know is that there are a variety of options under the International Mobility Program that allows employers to bring in skilled workers without going through the tedious and expensive LMIA process.  A few of these options are discussed below.

NAFTA Professionals Program

When Canada signed on to NAFTA, they agreed to the worker mobility plans contained in the Agreement.  Under NAFTA, Canadian, Mexican and US citizens that meet certain qualifications in designated professions can take advantage of a NAFTA Professionals visa, also known as a TN visa.  This category is an enticing option for employers looking to get highly skilled and qualified workers to Canada quickly.  It covers a variety of occupations such as engineers, accountants, computer systems analysts, and a variety of positions in the medical and science sectors.  Work permits are initially issued for one year with the possibility of renewal.  In the case of US citizens, the application can often be submitted at the border when the worker lands in Canada.  Mexican citizens will need to apply for a temporary resident visa along with the work permit.  However, without the wait times for a labour assessment, the time it takes to bring a Mexican citizen to work in Canada is still drastically less than bringing in a worker under the TFWP.

Chile, Peru, and Columbia Free Trade Agreements

Similar to the NAFTA program, Canada has signed free trade agreements with a number of South American countries that include worker mobility programs.  In the case of Chile, the eligible professions include a similar list as found in the NAFTA Agreement.  In the case of Peru and Colombia, the program is available to a variety of technicians such as engineers, electricians, plumbers, oil and gas drillers, chefs, and computer systems technicians.  As with the NAFTA program, these free trade agreements require Canada to issue work permits for up to a year with the possibility of renewal without requiring a labour assessment.  The workers will have to apply abroad for the work permit but the time and expense of an LMIA is not required.

doak shirreff explains foreign worker policy

International Experience Canada (IEC)

The IEC program, commonly known as the working holiday permit, allows young people aged 18 to 35, from participating countries to obtain an open work permit for one year to come and gain experience in Canada.  While many employers associate this program with seasonal workers coming to Canada’s numerous ski hills, there is also a Young Professional Program that requires a job offer from an employer to allow the foreign worker to come to Canada and work for one year with that employer.  In some cases, the applicant may apply for a second permit for an additional year.  Although it is initially short term, once in Canada, there may be other options to keep the worker in the country if the employer wishes to do so. This is a great opportunity for an employer to gain access to young talent from around the globe without having to complete the LMIA process.


As you can see, there are a number of options for attracting skilled workers without having to endure processing of a labour assessment.  With the new requirements for transition plans, higher processing fees and extensive marketing, employers can choose to recruit top quality talent in areas of the world where the labour assessment is not required.  A qualified immigration lawyer can help navigate the maze of immigration options to determine the appropriate pathway for your business’s needs.  For further information on qualifying professions and ways to benefit from the International Mobility Program, contact Doak Shirreff today.


If you have further questions, please contact us at Doak Shirreff lawyers. We have your best interests in mind and would be happy to help.