Working visa basics for Canada



SINCE temporary work visas to the United States are in a state of flux, we shall cross the border up North in response to a question which a reader emailed:

“My son is applying for work in Canada. May I inquire what the requirements for a Canadian work visa are? He already has an employer and we are just waiting for the LMIA and contract. What are the next steps to process our visa?”

Employers in Canada intending to recruit temporary workers from overseas have the option of hiring through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) or the International Mobility Program (IMP). In both cases, the essential question is whether the employer must first obtain a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or not. If the answer is “yes,” the employer must proceed to apply for and be issued the LMIA by theEmployment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada.

To be issued an LMIA, the employer must provide evidence that there is a need for a temporary worker and that no Canadians are available to do the job. This procedure is similar to the requirement by the US Department of Labor for employers seeking to recruit workers for temporary employment. However, the procedure is called a Temporary Labor Certification filed with the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the counterpart of ESDC/Service Canada.

In both cases, the employer must establish the shortage of qualified Canadian workers (citizens, residents or those lawfully allowed to work) willing and available for the job being offered.

Employers may also hire a temporary worker without first obtaining an LMIA if the job being offered meets the description of occupations exempt from the LMIA.

The most common examples are those covered by regulations pursuant to “competitiveness and public policy”: Spouses of skilled workers, students pursuing full-time academic studies; those pursuing employment after graduation; post-doctoral fellows and award recipients; students authorized to work off campus and medical residents and fellows.

The most common workers hired temporarily in Canada where an LMIA is needed are foreign workers 1) in a high-wage or low-wage position; 2) being offered a wage below, at or above the median hourly wage; agricultural workers; caregivers.

The wage offered for the job being offered determines whether an LMIA is needed or not under this stream. The current list of high-wage and low-wage positions in specific provinces in Canada as of April 29, 2017 are shown in the accompanying table.

Caregivers – new and current info
Caregivers recruited for work for eligible Canadian families may now be living in or not with the employer sponsor. Whether live-in or not, the caregiver must provide care on a full-time basis (minimum 30 hours per week); work in the private household where the care is being provided; and meet the requirements set Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Caregivers are basically in two categories: 1) for children under 18 years of age; or 2) for people with high medical needs. For the first, the common classifications are child care provider, live-in caregiver or nanny.

Caregivers for people with high medical needs (elderly persons, 65 years or age or over, or people with disabilities, a chronic or terminal illness) may include egistered nurse or registered psychiatric nurse as well a Licensed practical nurse, and attendant for persons with disabilities, home support worker, live-in caregiver or personal care attendant.

No LMIA required
Certain Canadian employers are exempted from the LMIA requirement under the International Mobility Program (IMP). The Canadian government bases the exemptions from the LMIA process on “broader economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada; andreciprocal benefits enjoyed by Canadians and permanent residents.”

The employer must submit the offer of employment through the employer portal and pay the $230 employer compliance fee.

There are specific International Mobility Worker Unit (IMWU)for employers whose place of business (the place where the foreign worker will be employed), each may be contacted by email.

1) The Toronto International Mobility Worker Unit serves the provinces ofOntario,BritishColumbia,Alberta,Saskatchewan,Manitoba,Yukon,Northwest Territories andNunavut. The email address is

2) Montréal International Mobility Worker Unit serves the provinces of Quebec,NovaScotia,Prince Edward Island,New Brunswick andNewfoundland and Labrador.The email address is

PH govt procedures for foreign worker recruitment
Obtaining the LMIA is a requirement of the Canadian government. After complying with the requirements – establishing that there is a need for a job that no Canadian citizens or permanent residents are available – the LMIA and other documents must first be authenticated by the current labor attaché assigned at the appropriate Philippine Overseas Labor Officer (POLO) with the Philippine consulate which has jurisdiction over the employer’s place of business, or where the foreign workers will be employed.

The directory of labor attaches – current as of March 2017 – can be reached through this link –

As of time of writing, the processing time for work permits at the Canadian Embassy in Makati is seven weeks from receipt of complete application package and correct filing fees. This processing time does not include work permits for post-grad and co-op work permits as well as refugees applying for the initial work permit.


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