Temporary Foreign Worker Program – COVID-19
Temporary Foreign Workers are being allowed to continue travelling to Canada. As of March 26, 2020, the travel restriction exemptions that were announced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada are in place.
Allowing foreign workers to enter Canada recognizes the vital role these workers play in supporting food security and other industries critical to the Canadian economy.
Like all Canadians, Temporary Foreign Worker Program employers and workers are expected to follow the latest public health and safety requirements and/or guidance from the Government of Canada and their provincial/territorial and local authorities to help prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19.
The Government of Canada is working with employers, workers and stakeholders to ensure that they are aware of their obligations to comply with public health requirements in the context of COVID-19. The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, have shared a joint letter with employers outlining the Government of Canada’s expectations. Further information can be found on the Temporary Foreign Worker compliance page of Employment and Social Development Canada.
Service Canada continues to process Labour Market Impact Assessment applications (LMIAs).
Special measures for employers who seek to bring in workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Since March 2020, the Government of Canada has taken measures to improve flexibility and reduce the administrative burden for employers, including but not limited to the following:
- employers are not required to submit minor administrative changes to the LMIA that would not change the terms and conditions,
- LMIAs for occupations considered essential during the COVID-19 pandemic are prioritized for processing,
- minimum recruitment requirements for LMIAs in certain occupations are waived until December 31, 2020 (For positions located in the Province of Quebec, please see Hiring in the Province of Quebec.),
- the maximum duration of employment under LMIAs is increased from 1 to 2 years for employers of workers in the low-wage stream as part of a three-year pilot,
- approved LMIAs are valid up to a maximum of nine months (or until December 15, 2021 under SAWP), and
- name addition and change requests have been expedited if they are for reasons related to COVID-19 or for eligible TFWs already in Canada.
- for the 2021 SAWP season, work permits for SAWP will indicate a 9-month work duration instead of the usual 8-month duration to accommodate the quarantine period (noting that work terms cannot exceed December 15, 2021).
For details of the above and other special measures, please visit the Temporary Foreign Worker Program website.
Note: Due to COVID-19 employers were temporarily given Housing Inspection Report (HIR) flexibility. This flexibility now only applies if the employer can prove that the appropriate authority is unable to conduct an inspection. For more information see the program requirements for HIRs for the Agricultural stream or SAWP.
For immediate assistance with your LMIA application, please contact the Employer Contact Centre from Monday to Friday, between 7:00 am and 8:00 pm, Eastern time:
Within Canada and the United States:
- Toll-free: 1-800-367-5693
- TTY: 1-855-881-9874
Outside Canada and the United States:
- 506-546-7569 (collect calls accepted)
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