International Mobility Program: Unique work situations – Rail grinder operators, rail welders or other specialized track maintenance workers

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

The foreign nationals seeking to work as rail grinder operators (per National Occupation Code [NOC] 7531), rail welders (per NOC 7237) or other specialized track maintenance equipment operators may be eligible for exemptions to a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) pursuant to R205(a) (exemption code C10).

Eligibility for this exemption will be based on several considerations, including the following:

  • whether the foreign national is coming to operate machinery which is crucial for performing the duties of a rail grinder operator, rail welder or other worker of specialized rail maintenance equipment
  • the length of time the machinery is needed in Canada.

Specifically, if machinery required for these services is not available in Canada and must therefore be brought into Canada from a foreign country, foreign nationals trained to operate this equipment may be eligible to enter Canada with an LMIA C10 exemption for the express and exclusive purpose of operating the imported machinery for the length of time required for providing rail track maintenance.

Canadian companies may contract foreign companies to perform rail maintenance for a period of time which may extend to a year or longer. However, while the contract may be valid for one or several years, the machines are often only brought into Canada for weeks at a time to complete grinding or welding activities on Canadian rail lines before returning to their country of origin until they are needed in Canada once more. Therefore the length of the contract between the Canadian rail company and the foreign machine service provider may not be reflective of the actual time the machine is in Canada.

Machines imported for durations exceeding one month

In cases where the machine is in Canada on a sporadic basis, for days or for three to four weeks at a time over the period of the contract validity, foreign nationals may enter Canada with the C10 LMIA exemption in order to operate the machine. If, however, the machine is imported to Canada and remains in Canada for a continuous period exceeding one month, the C10 exemption no longer applies and the foreign machine owner should normally undergo the LMIA process so that it can be assessed whether a Canadian is available to operate the machine on this ongoing basis.

C10 exemption only valid for short durations of work

This exemption is only for foreign nationals required in Canada to operate the machinery for short periods of time. Foreign nationals coming to install, repair, maintain or uninstall rail grinder, rail welder or other rail maintenance machinery are not covered through this exemption but may qualify for different exemptions.

Note: It is recommended (but not required at this time) that foreign national rail maintenance workers coming to Canada to operate specialized machinery present a border service officer with written confirmation from the Canadian employer stating that the machine is not available in Canada. The letter should be on company letterhead and signed by a senior officer of the Canadian company.

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