Federal Skilled Worker Program

Hiring Skilled Workers and Supporting their Permanent Immigration

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) supports Canada's objective to select higher-skilled immigrants based on their potential to become economically established in Canada and to assist employers to meet their skilled labour shortages.

Description

The FSWP allows employers to make arranged employment offers (also known as permanent job offers) to skilled foreign workers. However, the job offer must be for:

  • higher-skilled positions such as: management, professional, scientific, technical or trade occupations (National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0, and skill levels A and B);
  • full-time hours (30 hours or more of work per week);
  • permanent employment; and
  • non-seasonal employment.

New Program Requirements

As per the amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), coming into force on May 4, 2013, employers seeking to hire a foreign worker for a full-time, permanent position will now be required to apply for a labour market opinion (LMO) instead of an arranged employment opinion (AEO). If an employer receives a positive LMO, it can be used to support the foreign nationals' application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for a:

  • permanent resident visa; and/or
  • temporary work permit.

This process will reduce the administrative burden by allowing:

  • employers making arranged employment offers to meet their immediate labour needs; and
  • foreign nationals to immediately take up temporary employment in Canada while their application for permanent residence is being assessed by CIC.

Note:
The FSWP is not available to employers, who are:

  • an embassy;
  • a high commission or consulate in Canada; or
  • on the list of ineligible employers maintained by CIC or
  • located in the province of Quebec.

For information on the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, consult the Ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles.

Requirements

Processing Fee

Employers must pay $1,000 for each position requested (e.g. $1,000 x number of positions=total payment) to cover the cost of processing a labour market opinion (LMO) application.

  • The processing fee payment (in Canadian dollars) can be made by:
    • certified cheque (payable to the Receiver General for Canada)
    • money order (postal or bank)
    • Visa
    • MasterCard
    • American Express
  • There will be no refund in the event of a negative LMO, or if the application is withdrawn or cancelled by the employer since the fee covers the assessment process and not the outcome.
  • Employers requesting to have their LMO application reconsidered, as a result of a negative LMO, must submit a new application and processing fee for each position.
  • Refunds will only be available if a fee was collected in error (e.g. an incorrect fee amount was processed).
Note:
The processing fee does not apply to employers choosing ONLY to support a foreign national's application for a permanent resident visa.

Language Restriction

A distinct language assessment factor has been introduced as subsection 203 (1.01) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). As a result, English and French are the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement both in LMO applications and in job advertisements by employers, unless they can demonstrate that another language is essential for the job.

Note:
The language restriction does not apply to higher-skilled positions related to on-farm primary agriculture such as farm managers/supervisors and specialized livestock workers (specifically National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes 8251, 8252, 8253, 8254 and 8256).

Education/Training and Experience

Employers are responsible for verifying that the foreign worker has all the necessary training, qualifications and experience to perform the work in Canada.

Regulated Occupations

Employers hiring a foreign worker in regulated occupations in Canada must ensure that arrangements are made with the appropriate regulatory body for the certification, registration or licensing of the foreign worker. A "regulated" occupation is one where a professional or regulatory body has the authority to set entry requirements and standards of practice that lead to a certification or registration.

Securing the necessary documents to practice in Canada is the employer's and the worker's responsibility. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) must be satisfied that the skilled worker is capable of performing the employment being offered to them. CIC will check to ensure the skilled worker holds the required certification, or license to practice in a regulated occupation in Canada. If the applicant is not certified or licensed, CIC will assess whether the applicant is likely to qualify for certification when in Canada.


Business Licence or Documentation

Under the FSWP, all employers must submit a copy of the following documents:

  • Job offer (signed by the employer and the foreign worker)
  • Proof of recruitment (e.g. copy of advertisement and information to support where, when and for how long the position was advertised)
  • Business registration or legal incorporation documents (if first LMO application)
  • Provincial/territorial/municipal business licence (where applicable and if first LMO application)
  • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) documents, including:
    • T4 Summary of Remuneration Paid (most current year ending)
    • PD7A Statement of Account for current source deductions (for 12-month period preceding LMO application)
    • Schedules 100 and 125, T2 Corporation Income Tax Return (for corporations only - 2 most recent returns filed)
    • T2125 Statement of Business or Professional Activities (for sole proprietorships/partnerships only – 2 most recent returns filed)
  • Commercial lease agreement (if applicable)
  • Provincial documentation requirements :
    • Manitoba – Certificate of Registration (Manitoba's Worker Recruitment and Protection Act)
    • Alberta – Employment Agency Business Licence (Alberta's Fair Trading Act), if applicable
    • British Columbia - Employment Agency Licence (British Columbia's Employment Standards Act), if applicable

Union Consultation

Although it is not a mandatory requirement, if the position being filled by the foreign worker is unionized, it is recommended that employers:

  • work actively with union representatives to recruit unemployed Canadians and permanent residents;
  • consult the union on its position regarding the hiring of a foreign worker for the available job;
  • confirm that the conditions of the collective agreement (e.g. wages, working conditions) will apply to the foreign worker.

Note:
Employment and Skills Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada may contact the union for more information.


Wages, Working Conditions and Occupations

Employers hiring foreign workers must:

  • comply with the prevailing wage set by Employment and Skills Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada;
  • be prepared to provide documentation that clearly demonstrates the wage being paid to the foreign workers.

Employers must refer to the median wage posted on the Working in Canada (WiC) website.

Note: As a result of the review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and as announced in Canada's Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government is introducing changes, and effective immediately, employers must pay foreign workers at least the prevailing wage.


Unionized Positions:

The collective bargaining agreement will outline the terms and conditions of employment such as:

  • wages
  • benefits and
  • hours of work

Employers must offer the foreign workers these same terms and conditions and also submit a copy of the collective bargaining agreement, along with the LMO application to ESDC/Service Canada.


Working Conditions

Canadian law protects all workers in Canada, including foreign workers. The exploitation of a foreign worker may violate Canadian laws and human rights.

Employers must:

  • pay workers for all work (including overtime, where required);
  • make sure that the workplace is safe; and
  • allow for proper break time and days off.

Employment in most occupations is covered under provincial/territorial legislation that deals with labour and employment standards such as: hours of work, working conditions and termination of employment. In fact, every province/territory has a Ministry of Labour that can provide information to assist employers and foreign workers with questions or issues related to work.

Note:
Some employers are federally regulated, and therefore are covered by the employment standards under the Canada Labour Code.


Occupations

Employers cannot force any foreign workers to perform duties for which they were not hired or trained (e.g. if an employer submits an application to hire a foreign worker as a welder, the duties given to the worker must correspond to that occupation and not those associated with a janitor).

Recruitment and Advertisement

Employers are required to conduct recruitment efforts to hire Canadian citizens and permanent residents, before offering a job to foreign workers.

Recruitment

Recruitment is the process of finding and selecting qualified employees. All employers are encouraged to conduct ongoing recruitment efforts, including advertising the job or contacting the underrepresented groups that face barriers to employment.

Employers do not need a third-party representative or recruiter to conduct recruitment on their behalf in order to hire a foreign worker. However, if employers choose to use the services of a third-party representative or a recruiter, they must pay for all the fees associated with this service.


Variations to the advertisement requirements

There are variations to the requirements for advertising for specific occupations and in particular provinces, including:

Note:
Employers hiring foreign workers in higher-skilled occupations in Quebec should consult the Facilitated Labour Market Opinion Process for that province.


Advertisement

A job posting is an announcement of an employment opportunity in a public medium such as newspapers, job posting website, bulletin boards, etc. It provides a broad exposure of the vacancy to Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Canada who would be potential candidates for the position.

To meet the minimum advertising requirements set by the Program, employers must advertise:

  1. On the national Job Bank or its provincial/territorial counterpart in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Quebec or Newfoundland and Labrador
    • The advertisement must be posted for a minimum of 4 weeks starting from the first day the ad appears and is accessible to the general public.
    • The advertisement must remain posted to actively seek qualified Canadians and permanent residents until the date a labour market opinion is issued.
  2. Using 2 or more additional methods of recruitment consistent with the normal practice for the occupation.
    • as a minimum, employers must choose one method that is national in scope, since people in higher-skilled positions are often mobile and willing to re-locate for work; and
    • employers can choose one or more recruitment methods among these:
      • print media (national or provincial/territorial newspapers, national journals, magazines with national coverage, specialized journals, professional associations magazines, newsletters, etc.);
      • general employment websites (canadastop100.com, vault.com, workopolis.com, monster.ca, etc.); and,
      • specialized websites dedicated to specific occupation profiles (e.g. accounting, marketing, biotechnology, education, engineering, etc.)
    • The advertisement must be posted for a minimum of 4 weeks starting from the first day the ad appears and is accessible to the general public.

Note:
Employers must demonstrate that the print media and websites used to advertise, target an audience that has the appropriate education, professional experience and/or skill level required for the occupation.

The advertisement must include the:

  • Company operating name
  • Business address
  • Title of position
  • Job duties (for each position, if advertising more than one vacancy)
  • Terms of employment (e.g. project based, permanent position)
  • Wage (refer to Wages, Working Conditions and Occupations tab to determine the established rate for the specific occupation and geographic area)
  • Benefits package being offered (if applicable)
  • Location of work (local area, city or town)
  • Contact information: telephone number, cell phone number, email address, fax number, or mailing address; and
  • Skills requirements:
    • Education
    • Work experience

Note:

  • Employers recruiting higher-skilled workers, in areas where the use of the Job Bank or its provincial/territorial counterparts is not considered an effective method of recruitment, must provide a written explanation of the alternative method used with their LMO application
  • Third-party representatives or recruiters can be the main contact for any job advertisements posted on behalf of the employer. However, the ad must be listed under the employer's Canada Revenue Agency business number

Other methods of recruitment could include:

  • participation at job fairs;
  • partnering with training institutions or offering internships ;
  • Use of professional recruitment agencies;
  • Consultations with unions for available labour;
  • Advertising through professional associations; or
  • Recruitment within the company (e.g. considering internal candidates for the position).
    • A Human Resources Plan may outline:
      • the training opportunities for existing employees;
      • include a list of competencies for employees;
      • workshops and/or programs for professional development and career management; or
      • specific programs to target specific employees for advancement.

Note:
Employers must continue to advertise the available position and actively seek qualified Canadians and permanent residents until the date they receive notification that a labour market opinion has been issued


How to Apply

Employers who want to hire a foreign worker must submit the labour market opinion (LMO) application along with all the required supporting documentation to ESDC/Service Canada.

In essence, employers are applying for an opinion on the impact that hiring a foreign worker would have on Canada's job market. As a result, it is important that employers follow all the necessary steps and submit all of the required documentation.


Provincial variations to the application process

If the job is located in the province of:

  • Alberta – Employers must provide the Employment Agency Business Licence (if applicable).
  • British Columbia – Employers must provide the Employment Agency Licence (if applicable).
  • Manitoba – Employers must apply for a Certificate of Registration at Manitoba's Employment Standards Branch, Business Registration Unit, before sending the LMO application to ESDC/Service Canada.
  • Nova Scotia – Employers must:
  • Quebec - The FSWP does not apply to positions in this province as it manages its own program under the Quebec Skilled Worker Class
  • Saskatchewan – Employers must:

Step-by-step – Checklist

Employers must follow the step-by-step checklist to ensure that all the documents required are submitted, otherwise there will be delays in processing the application.

Complete, sign (where applicable) and submit the following documents:

  1. LMIA Application Form (EMP5593).
    Note:
    • Employers must provide the name of the foreign national they wish to hire at the time they submit their LMIA application.
    • The processing fee does not apply to employers choosing ONLY to support a foreign national's application for a permanent resident visa.
  2. Schedule A - Appointment of a Third Party Representative (EMP5575) (if applicable).
  3. Schedule B - Impact on the Canadian Labour Market (EMP5578) (if applicable).
  4. The valid arranged employment offer (signed by the employer and the foreign worker). The employment offer must be:
    • in writing,
    • for a full-time, permanent, non-seasonal position.
  5. Proof of recruitment (e.g. copy of advertisement and information to support where, when and for how long the position was advertised).
  6. Business registration or legal incorporation documents (if first LMIA application).
  7. Provincial/territorial/municipal business licence (where applicable and if first LMIA application).
  8. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) documents, including:
    • T4 Summary of Remuneration Paid (most current year ending)
    • PD7A Statement of Account for current source deductions (for 12-month period preceding LMIA application)
    • Schedules 100 and 125, T2 Corporation Income Tax Return (for corporations only - 2 most recent returns filed)
    • T2125 Statement of Business or Professional Activities (for sole proprietorships/partnerships only – 2 most recent returns filed)
  9. Provincial/territorial workplace safety and insurance (e.g. workers compensation board) clearance letter/certificate.
  10. Commercial lease agreement (if applicable).
  11. Provincial documentation requirements:
    • Manitoba – Certificate of Registration (Manitoba's Worker Recruitment and Protection Act)
    • Alberta – Employment Agency Business License (Alberta's Fair Trading Act), if applicable
    • British Columbia - Employment Agency License (British Columbia's Employment Standards Act), if applicable.

Employers must sign, and send the completed application and all required documentation to the Service Canada LMIA Processing Centre.

Send all documentation:

Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Service Canada LMO Processing Centre
1 Agar Place, PO Box 7000
Saint John NB E2L 4V4

Fax:
506-636-5028
506-636-5029
1-866-585-7524 (toll-free)

For assistance - phone:
Within Canada and the United States: 1-800-367-5693 (toll-free)
Outside Canada and the United States: 506-546-7569

Note:
A complete application means that employers have:

  • filled out all of the fields in all of the necessary forms;
  • included all of the required documentation;
  • signed the forms where required; and
  • submitted the fee payment with the application.

If an application is submitted and it is not complete, Service Canada staff will inform the employer that the application will not be processed. Incomplete applications and supporting documents submitted with the application will not be retained or returned to the employer. As a result, employers are advised to submit copies, not original documents.


Labour Market Impact Assessment Processing

ESDC is working to achieve a more consistent approach to service delivery across the country while reducing red tape for some employers. As a result, applications that meet certain criteria will be processed within 10-day business days. However, employers must still meet all Program requirements as the service standard will be met by processing these applications first, not by reducing the thoroughness of the assessments done on these applications.

Applications may be processed within 10 business days, provided employers are hiring TFWs in positions that meet one or more of the established criteria, which include:

Highest-demand occupations

These occupations:

Short-duration work periods

These positions:

Highest-paid

These occupations have a prevailing wage that is, at or above the top 10% of wages in the province/territory where the job is located

Employers, who meet the criteria for processing under the 10-day service standard, will not receive this service if:

  • the application is missing information;
  • additional time is required to consult the employer on details contained in the application; or
  • the employer is selected for an Employer Compliance Review or inspection.

Note:
In Quebec applications are jointly processed by Service Canada and the ministère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l'Inclusion (MIDI), as a result, the 10-day service standard will not apply.

Next Steps

Employment and Skills Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada will assess the LMIA application submitted by the employer to determine what impact hiring a foreign worker would have on Canada's job market. Based on the application and the documents received, the Department will issue a positive or negative LMIA.


Labour Market Impact Assessment Process

All LMIA applications go through a systematic assessment process to:

  1. Verify if the employer is:
    1. eligible to participate in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program TFWP. The list of ineligible employers appears on CIC website; and
    2. using an authorized third-party representative, if applicable.
  2. Verify the consistency of the job offer with federal-provincial-territorial agreements.
  3. Assess the genuineness of the job offer. The assessment is based on whether the:
    • Employer is actively engaged in the business related to the job offer;
    • job offered to the foreign worker is consistent with the employment needs of the employer;
    • employer can fulfil the terms and conditions of the job offer;
    • employer or the third-party representative is compliant with the relevant federal-provincial-territorial employment and recruitment legislation;
  4. Assess:
    • the impact of hiring a foreign worker on the labour market including:
      1. wages and working conditions offered;
      2. occupation in which the foreign worker will be employed;
      3. employer's recruitment and advertisement efforts;
      4. benefits to the labour market;
      5. consultations, if any, with the appropriate union; and the
      6. effect on the settlement of a labour dispute.
    • previous job offers that the employer has made to a foreign worker within the 2 years preceding the date of the new LMIA application. This is to determine whether the employer has provided substantially the same (STS) wages, working conditions and occupations as outlined on the previous positive LMIA letter and annex.

In addition, as part of the assessment process, ESDC/Service Canada will ensure that the employer has met all the Program Requirements.

Once the assessment process is complete, ESDC/Service Canada will notify the employer in writing of the final decision.


Positive LMIA

The employer will receive a letter confirming the approval of the LMIA application. This positive LMIA is valid for 6 months from the date of issue. For privacy reasons, the letter will not include the names of the foreign workers. However, it provides specific details about the job offer, such as the wages, working conditions and occupations as well as a system file number. The names of the workers will appear in Annex B which is intended for the employer's records only, and is NOT to be shared with the foreign worker as it is not required for the purposes of applying for a work permit.

Under the FSWP, positive LMIA letters support both the skilled workers' applications to CIC for a:

  • permanent resident visa under the FSWP; and/or
  • work permit, if the employers wishes the foreign worker to start working while waiting for the outcome of the application for the permanent resident visa.

Once the positive LMIA letter is received, it is the employer's responsibility to:

  • send a copy of this letter to the foreign worker;
  • ask the foreign national to apply to the appropriate Canadian Visa Office, for a skilled worker permanent resident visa to immigrate to Canada, or/and for a work permit. The foreign national must submit the appropriate application along with a copy of the:
    • written arranged employment offer signed by both the employer and the worker; and
    • positive LMIA letter.

Permanent Resident Visa – Immigration

Receiving a positive LMIA for an arranged employment offer does not allow a skilled foreign worker to automatically immigrate to Canada. In order for skilled foreign workers to become permanent residents, they must meet all the requirements of the Federal Skilled Worker Class.

Work Permit

CIC will assess the foreign worker's work permit application. If the assessment is positive, the foreign worker will receive a work permit to work for a specific employer, under established working conditions, and for a particular duration in Canada.

Note:
Some countries may require that their citizens meet certain conditions if they want to work in Canada. Employers should:

  • ask the foreign worker to verify if additional conditions apply,
  • contact the consulate of the foreign worker's country in Canada; or
  • visit the consulate's Web site.

Once the foreign worker arrives in Canada, the employer must:

  • ensure that the worker is authorized to work and check the duration of the work permit;
  • verify that the foreign worker's work permit indicates that it is for a job under the high-skilled; and
  • keep records of the number of regular and overtime hours the foreign worker has worked on a weekly/monthly basis.

Note:
Employers are not allowed to take away the foreign worker's identification documents such as  passport, work permit or other identification.

Employers must apply for a new LMIA when they anticipate that their need for foreign workers will continue beyond the period covered by the work permit. The new LMIA application should be sent at least 4 months prior to the expiry of the work permit to ensure ESDC/Service Canada has sufficient time to process the application and for CIC to process the work permit extension.


Negative LMIA

ESDC/Service Canada issues a negative LMIA letter if the employer does not meet all the Program Requirements.


Employer Compliance

ESDC/Service Canada takes the integrity of the TFWP very seriously. Employers hiring foreign workers are expected to be compliant with the TFWP, by upholding the terms and conditions of employment as stated in the original job offer and set out in the positive LMIA letter and annexes.

Employers must also follow all federal/provincial/territorial employment regulations and laws, as all workers in Canada, including foreign workers, have the same labour and human rights and social protections as all Canadians.

In accordance with amendments to the IRPR, (s. 203(1)(e)), all returning employers that have hired a foreign worker within the past 2 years and are submitting a new LMIA application may be subject to an employer compliance review.

This review, often known as an STS assessment, requires employers to demonstrate that the foreign workers were provided with substantially the same:

  • wages;
  • working conditions; and
  • occupation, as set out on the positive LMIA letter and annexes.

More information is available in the Employer Compliance brochure.