Foreign workers: assessing a temporary foreign worker’s eligibility to work in Alberta in a compulsory certification trade position

All in-Canada visitor record, study permit and work permit applications must be submitted electronically, with some exceptions. See the list of programs that are exempt from the in-Canada mandatory electronic application requirement.

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

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).

The assessment of a temporary foreign workers’ qualifications or certification (under section R203) falls to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers, who have sole responsibility for determining whether the foreign national is able to perform the work offered, including verifying that the temporary foreign worker has been assessed by AAIT and has the relevant letter or proper certification to enter Canada to work in a compulsory trade in Alberta.

Officers have the authority to refuse a work permit request when the employer and the worker have not obtained these approvals or certificates.

Requirements

Temporary foreign workers who want to work in a compulsory certification trade position in Alberta must be certified journeypersons or hold one of the following (or both):

  • a valid Alberta Qualification Certificate;
  • a valid Canadian provincial or 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 temporary foreign workers in specified occupations for specialty work, generally for shorter periods of time. This authorization must be obtained prior to the temporary foreign worker coming to Canada;
  • a valid AAIT Qualification Certificate Program (QCP) approval letter obtained prior to coming to Canada;
  • an approved Request for Extension of the QCP-Work Experience Application Program letter that indicates AAIT’s approval for the temporary foreign worker’s extended participation in the QCP, the completion of which was delayed due to circumstances beyond the temporary foreign workers’ control.

    Note: This letter should be attached to an in-Canada application to extend the initial one-year work permit.

Note: Trade certificates issued by non-Alberta regulatory authorities

Temporary foreign workers who have a Certificate of Qualification from any Canadian province or territory other than Alberta, with or without the Interprovincial Red Seal endorsement, would be eligible to work in Alberta without an Alberta Qualification Certificate. The trade certificate must be recognized in the Province of Alberta. To learn more about AAIT certification requirements, visit Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education website.

AAIT process

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. Information on AAIT certification requirements to work in a trade in Alberta can be found at Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education website.

All uncertified temporary foreign workers with approved QCP applications are eligible to work in Alberta under the supervision of a certified journeyperson while challenging the required certification exams.

The QCP application approval letter (issued only to uncertified temporary foreign workers) is valid for 12 months from the date of issuance of the letter; the temporary foreign worker has 12 months to come to Alberta, Canada, or their application to the QCP will be cancelled. Once the temporary foreign worker arrives in Canada and notifies AAIT of their arrival, they will then have up to 12 months to challenge the QCP exams. Upon meeting all industry trade requirements, including passing the required trade examinations, the temporary foreign worker will be issued an Alberta Qualification Certificate.

Handling extensions

Certain circumstances can impact a QCP applicant’s ability to complete their trade certification within the 12 months following arrival, such as the exam or exam facility not being available. In these cases, AAIT may issue its approval in the Request for Extension of the QCP-Work Experience Application Program letter. CPC-Vegreville may issue the extension without the requirement for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Alternatively, a new LMIA is required when the temporary foreign worker has completed their certification and the employer—or a new employer-would like to continue to employ the temporary foreign worker.

More information about AAIT’s QCP can be found on the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Web site.

Service Canada’s role

Service Canada issues an LMIA, directs the employer to the AAIT website for information and describes the different types of documents the temporary foreign worker must possess depending on the circumstances.

Service Canada officers will include notes in Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s LMIA 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 as listed above.

The Service Canada LMIA letter and FWS note to CIC and CBSA officers will read the following:

“For skilled trade positions with compulsory certification in Alberta, the temporary foreign worker must be in possession of either the relevant trade certificate, or an Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AAIT) letter indicating that they are (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).

Additional note for the FWS: Generally speaking, Service Canada will not be aware of the temporary foreign worker’s certification status, and thus an LMIA for a compulsory trade position may be issued with an employment duration of 24 months for high-wage jobs and 12 months for low-wage jobs. Nevertheless, when issuing the work permit, the CIC or CBSA officer must consider both the LMIA employment duration and the temporary foreign worker’s certification status (i.e., whether the temporary foreign worker is trade certified and therefore eligible to receive a 24 month work permit, or possesses an AAIT letter and is therefore eligible to receive a work permit adhering to the AAIT letter’s validity period). Where there is a discrepancy between the LMIA employment duration and the AAIT-approved work period, CBSA officers should issue the work permits for the shorter duration among the permitted options. See the chart below for guidance.

A new LMIA will be required to support a work permit extension application.”

As is consistent with the current procedure, LMIAs will still be issued with a six-month expiry date by which the temporary foreign worker must submit their work permit application to CIC or CBSA.

CIC and CBSA instructions for issuing work permits to temporary foreign workers

Along with a positive LMIA letter, CIC and CBSA officers will require a copy of the relevant trade certificate or letter issued by AAIT (compulsory trades only) indicating the circumstances under which the foreign worker is permitted to work in Alberta.

The onus remains on the employer and the temporary foreign worker to procure the relevant AAIT letter or trade certificate and include it with the work permit application.

If the temporary foreign worker has obtained neither the relevant AAIT letter nor a trade certificate, they do not meet the requirements of R200(3)(a), and CIC or CBSA shall not issue a work permit. Otherwise, a work permit will be issued with the duration based on the validity specified in the AAIT authorization letter (generally up to 90 days for any temporary foreign workers) or QCP approval letter (12 months for temporary foreign workers who are uncertified at the time of arrival, or, for certified temporary foreign workers, 24 months for those in high-wage positions and 12 months for those in low-wage positions). However, the employment duration approved in the LMIA should also be a key factor in determining the work permit duration.

If there is a discrepancy between the LMIA employment duration and the AAIT-approved work period, border services officers should issue the work permit for the shorter duration between the permitted options. See the chart below for guidance.

LMIA category and employment duration Temporary foreign worker certification status and AAIT-approved work period Recommended work permit duration
High-wage = 24 months Uncertified = 12 months 12 months
High-wage = 24 months Certified = 24 months 24 months
Low-wage = 12 months Uncertified = 12 months 12 months
Low-wage = 12 months Certified = 24 months 12 months
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