Backgrounder: Temporary Foreign Worker Program


The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program is a Government of Canada program that allows employers in Canada to hire a foreign worker when no Canadians or permanent residents are available.

The TFW Progam contributes to economic growth in Canada by ensuring that Canadians and permanent residents continue to have the first opportunity at available jobs, while balancing the labour needs of employers.

Employers can apply to hire temporary foreign workers through the High-Wage and Low-Wage streams, the Primary Agricultural Stream—including the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, or through supporting a skilled foreign worker’s permanent resident visa application.

In order to hire a foreign worker, employers must receive a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from the Government of Canada. Employment and Social Development Canada conducts a rigorous assessment of factors, as set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, before issuing a positive or negative LMIA.

The TFW Program should only be used by employers to address their labour needs on a limited basis when qualified Canadians or permanent residents are not available.

Employers who wish to use the Program must comply with strict criteria to ensure that Canadians are given the first opportunity at available jobs. As part of the LMIA, Employment and Social Development Canada looks at available labour market information for the region and for the occupation, as well as the efforts made by an employer to recruit or train Canadians, including the number of Canadians that applied for their available job, the number of Canadians the employer interviewed, and an explanation of why those Canadians were not hired.

Several other factors are considered in the decision-making process for LMIAs:

  • Will hiring a foreign worker result in the transfer of skills or knowledge to Canadians, or in creating or retaining employment for Canadians?

  • Is a temporary foreign worker likely to fill a labour shortage?

  • Are the wages and working conditions in accordance with the norms for the occupation?

  • Is the employment of a foreign national likely to adversely affect the settlement of any labour dispute that may be in progress? and

  • Does an employer-employee relationship exist in which the foreign worker agrees to work full time for an employer for a specific wage or salary?

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