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An Overview & Q&A regarding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in Canada

According to a Stats Canada survey published at the end of 2022, shortage of labour force was expected to be an obstacle for 35% of businesses in 2023, and retaining skilled employees is expected to be an obstacle for 27.6% of employers. Last fall 2022, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced Canada’s 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan, which outlined the goal of welcoming 500,000 immigrants a year by 2025. The Immigration Levels Plan cites increased immigration as a strategy to help businesses find employees to meet labour market shortages.

Because of the labour shortages Canadian employers are experiencing, many employers will look to hire foreign nationals to work temporarily. There are multiple ways that foreign nationals can come and work in Canada, including the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. 

Often, to hire a foreign worker, a Canadian employer must obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). An LMIA is a document issued by Employment and Social Development Canada, which assesses the impact of hiring a foreign national on Canada’s labour market. A positive LMIA indicates that there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the specific position, thus allowing an employer to hire a foreign national.

This article aims to provide an overview and answer common questions of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program assists employers in filling temporary labour needs. Before an employer can hire a foreign worker through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the employer must obtain a positive LMIA. An individual cannot apply for a work permit under this program until they receive a valid job offer from an employer with a positive LMIA. At Sierra Immigration Alliance, we assist both employers in obtaining an LMIA, and employees in obtaining a work permit.


Does the employer or employee apply for an LMIA? An LMIA is a document that must be applied for by the employer, not the employee. Once an employer has a positive LMIA, the prospective employee will then need to apply for a Work Permit.

How long is a positive LMIA valid for? A positive LMIA is usually valid for six to twelve months after the date of issue, depending on what LMIA stream the employer has applied for. This means that the employer must hire the foreign worker within this time frame of receiving a positive LMIA as the LMIA will then expire. It is important to note that just because an employer has received a positive LMIA once, this does not mean that they can continue to hire as many foreign workers as they want based off that one approved LMIA.

If I have a positive LMIA, can I hire a temporary worker for any position I want? LMIA’s are job specific, meaning that they only approve the employer to hire an employee to fill a particular job. Therefore, the employer must hire for the position they have received an LMIA for. 

How much are the government fees for an LMIA? If you would like to support your temporary foreign worker with a work permit, then there is an LMIA processing fee of $1000. If the temporary foreign worker does not need a work permit, then there is no LMIA processing fee charged.

What documentation is required to obtain a positive LMIA? To obtain a positive LMIA, an employer must follow specific procedures to show that they have made efforts to recruit a Canadian/PR for the position and have not been able to find a suitable candidate. An employer must also show various documents regarding their business status in Canada.


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