Temporary Foreign Worker Program: Hiring foreign workers in occupations that require lower levels of formal training

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 program allows employers to obtain an LMIA for job offers at skill levels C and D listed in the National Occupational Classification (NOC).

For more information, see the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) website.

Basic ESDC requirements for occupations requiring lower levels of formal training (formerly known as Low-Skill Pilot)

Employment and Social Development Canada requires that all applications within the Low-Skill Pilot (LSP) have a contract signed by both the employer and the employee which outlines the employer’s obligation towards the foreign worker. These obligations are the same for all LSP applications and include wages, working conditions, roundtrip transportation costs, medical coverage, assistance in finding suitable accommodations, and payment of all costs related to hiring the temporary foreign worker.

  • Employers can apply for an LMIA for jobs at skill levels C and D listed in the NOC, for a maximum duration of 24 months.
  • Job qualifications include a high school diploma at most, or a maximum of two years of job-specific training.
  • Initially, after 24 months of employment in the LSP, temporary foreign workers were to return to their country of permanent residence for at least four months before applying for another work permit under the LSP (i.e., 24 months in, four months out). The requirement to return home has since been rescinded.
  • Employers pay return airfare, ensure that affordable and suitable accommodation is available, provide temporary medical insurance coverage for the duration of the employment, register workers with provincial workplace safety insurance plans, sign an employer-employee contract and demonstrate continued efforts to recruit and train Canadian workers.

Assessment of Low-Skill Pilot work permit applications

  • An assessment of an applicant’s ability to do the job may be part of the work permit assessment as there is less education to prove ability.
  • A work permit assessment includes but is not limited to R179, R200, bona fides and dual intent.
  • When assessing applications in the LSP, officers should continue to exercise their judgment in making well-informed decisions.

Applications from spouses and dependent children

Applicants may wish to have their spouses and dependent children accompany them to Canada. In these cases, the officer should consider the applications as a single unit, rather than assessing each separately.

The applicant’s spouse is not eligible for an open work permit and requires an LMIA if applying for a work permit. Also, as temporary residents, any children may be required to pay international student rates to attend school. These costs, as well as the cost of travel to Canada, health coverage and family accommodations, may have to be borne by the applicant since the employer, under the LSP, is obliged to provide these only for the applicant. The onus is on the applicant to demonstrate to the officer that they are capable of meeting these expenses.

Processing considerations

Although the LSP provides lower-skilled workers an opportunity to work temporarily in Canada, it does not afford them any priority in the processing queue. Applications within the LSP should be processed in the same queue as other work permit applications and be completed on a “first come, first served” basis.


Officers are to enter “LSP” as a Special Program code in FOSS or GCMS on initial work permits and extensions. This will assist immigration officers in Canada when reviewing applications for work permit extensions and is also important for statistical and policy development purposes.


The LSP does not apply to the Live-in Caregiver Program—see OP14 (PDF, 302.02KB) and IP4 (PDF, 463.58KB)—or the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program .

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