ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 434-A – August 23, 2013

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

This document has expired. Please refer to the appropriate Program Delivery Instructions for current information.

Clarifying the responsibilities of Service Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency in regard to assessing a Temporary Foreign Worker’s eligibility to work in Alberta in a compulsory certification trade position

OB 434-A replaces OB 434, which was revised to add two new documents to the list of documents (in the ‘Background’ section) that an applicant can provide when requesting authorization to work in Alberta.


See OB 279-E for information about, and instructions for, temporary foreign workers (TFWs) applying under the Alberta TFW Annex Occupation-Specific Pilot Program.


The purpose of the original OB was to provide information on the operational practices used by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Service Canada (SC) in assessing a TFW’s eligibility to work in the province of Alberta in a designated compulsory certification trade for the purpose of issuing a work permit (WP) and to reaffirm CIC’s sole responsibility in this matter, effective August 1, 2012.


The training and certification standards of tradespersons working in Alberta are the responsibility of Alberta industry, as represented by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AAIT). To maintain industry standards in Alberta and to promote workplace safety, AAIT evaluates and tests out-of-country tradespersons destined to work in the province.

TFWs who want to work in a compulsory certification trade in Alberta must be a certified journeyperson holding one of the following:

  • a valid Alberta Qualification Certificate;
  • a valid Canadian provincial/territorial trade certificate recognized by Alberta (see Note);
  • a valid out of country trade certificate recognized as equivalent by Alberta (Recognized Certificates);
  • a valid Alberta Equivalency Document;
  • an authorization letter from AAIT permitting a requesting employer to hire TFWs in specified occupations for specialty work, generally for shorter periods of time. This authorization must be obtained prior to the TFW coming to Canada; or
  • an approved application for the Alberta Qualification Certificate Program (QCP) from AAIT (also referred to as an AAIT QCP approval letter), which must be obtained prior to coming to Canada in situations where an authorization letter from AAIT does not apply.

Note: Trade certificates issued by non-Alberta regulatory authorities

TFWs that have a Certificate of Qualification from any Canadian province/territory other than Alberta, with or without the Interprovincial Red Seal endorsement, would be eligible to work in Alberta without applying for and/or acquiring an Alberta Qualification Certificate. The trade certificate must be recognized in the Province of Alberta; information on AAIT certification requirements to work in a trade in Alberta can be found at

All TFWs with approved QCP applications are eligible to work in Alberta under the supervision of a certified journeyperson.

The QCP application approval letter remains valid for a period of up to one year. Once the TFW arrives in Canada, he or she will have up to 12 months to challenge the QCP exams. Upon meeting all industry trade requirements, including passing the required trade examinations, an Alberta Qualification Certificate is issued to the TFW.

Current status

In previous years, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada – now Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) – and SC have required that the applicable AAIT document (i.e. those listed in the “Background” section of this OB) be included with each Labour Market Opinion (LMO) request from an Alberta employer wishing to hire a foreign skilled tradesperson. No positive named LMO was issued without evidence of the certificate, authorization letter or approval letter by AAIT.

As of August 1, 2012, CIC and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers are responsible for ensuring that valid AAIT documents are presented prior to issuing a WP.

Reaffirming CIC/CBSA’s sole responsibility in the matter of TFW qualifications

Following a close examination of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), it was determined that the assessment of TFW qualifications or certification (under IRPR 203) falls to CIC and CBSA officers, who have sole responsibility for determining whether the foreign national is able to perform the work offered, including verifying that the TFW has been assessed by AAIT and has the relevant letter and/or proper certification to enter Canada to work in a compulsory trade in Alberta.

CIC and CBSA started operating under this guidance effective August 1, 2012, and officers have the authority to refuse a WP request when these approvals or certificates have not been obtained by the employer and worker.

Information to be included in the LMO

As of August 1, 2012, SC issues an LMO without reference to a trade certificate, authorization letter or QCP approval letter from AAIT. However, SC directs the employer to the AAIT website for information and describes the different types of documents the TFW must possess depending on the circumstances.

SC officers will include notes in ESDC’s LMO letter as well as the Foreign Worker System (FWS) to advise CIC and CBSA officers that the foreign national must have the relevant trade certificate or document from AAIT indicating, if required, that the TFW’s qualifications were assessed and AAIT is satisfied that the foreign national has the work experience required under the Qualification Certificate Program to work in the trade while challenging the journeyperson exams.

The SC LMO letter and FWS note to CIC/CBSA officers will read:

“For skilled trade positions with compulsory certification in Alberta, the TFW must be in possession of an Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AAIT) letter indicating that he/she is: (1) permitted to work in the province for a specified period of time, or (2) qualified to work in the province for a specified period of time prior to taking the trade certification exam(s), or (3) the TFW must be in possession of the relevant trade certificate.

If the TFW has not obtained either the relevant AAIT letter or a trade certificate, CIC/CBSA will not issue a WP. Otherwise, a WP will be issued with the duration based on the validity specified in the AAIT authorization letter (generally up to 90 days for any TFW) or QCP approval letter (12 months for TFWs who are uncertified at the time of arrival and 24 months for TFWs who are certified at the time of arrival).

ADDITIONAL NOTE FOR FWS: Generally speaking, SC will not be aware of the TFW’s certification status, and thus an LMO for a compulsory trade position may be issued with an employment duration of 24 months. However, when issuing the WP, the CIC/CBSA officer must do so with primary reference to whether the TFW is trade certified (therefore eligible to receive a 24 month WP), or possesses an AAIT letter (therefore eligible to receive a WP adhering to the AAIT letter’s validity period).

A new LMO will be required to support a WP extension application.”

Consistent with current procedure, LMOs will still be issued with a 6-month expiry date, which refers to the date by which the TFW must submit his or her WP application to CIC/CBSA.

CIC/CBSA Instructions for issuing WPs to TFWs

Along with a positive LMO letter, CIC/CBSA officers will require a copy of the relevant trade certificate or letter issued by AAIT (compulsory trades only – except for certain optional trades when TFW is participating in the Alberta TFW Annex Occupation-Specific Pilot OB 279-E) indicating the circumstances under which the foreign worker is permitted to work in Alberta.

The onus remains with the employer and the worker to procure the relevant AAIT letter, or trade certificate and include it with the WP application.

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AAIT)’s Qualification Certificate Program (QCP) for TFWs requiring certification

(See OB 279-E for information about TFWs applying under the Alberta TFW Annex Occupation-Specific Pilot Program)

The AAIT Qualification Certificate Program approval letter will advise all foreign nationals and their employers that the approval letter will need to be included with a WP application that is submitted to a visa office — or inland for an extension — or presented to the CBSA officers at a Port of Entry.

Upon arrival in Alberta, the foreign national will be authorized to work at the employer’s site, and will be required to challenge a theory and/or practical exam before the expiry of the WP. Alberta expects the foreign national to achieve trade certification within 12 months following the foreign national’s arrival in Canada.

CIC can issue an initial WP for a 12-month duration with a condition that the application for extension must be accompanied by the Alberta Qualification Certificate.

If the temporary foreign worker fails the certification examination(s), and AAIT permits the candidate to re-write the examinations, a new LMO may need to be obtained if the TFW’s WP needs to be extended. A new WP may be issued only if the new application is supported by a new QCP approval letter from the International and Provincial Assessment Services Branch within AAIT.

Otherwise, if the TFW has passed the certification exams and acquired the trade certificate, the employer can apply for a second LMO and the TFW can apply for a WP extension, prior to the expiry of their current WP, to cover the remainder of the intended employment duration.

The effect of an employer or foreign national not respecting the rules surrounding trade certification of temporary foreign workers in compulsory trades would essentially result in a violation of Alberta’s Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act.

More information about AAIT’s QCP can be found at the following link:

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