Temporary Work Programs

Canada has immigration programs for temporary foreign workers, and not just for seasonal labour workers but also for caregivers, university professors, and highly skilled specialists.

A foreign national is allowed to work in Canada temporarily under one of these two programs:

  • Temporary Foreign Worker Program (employers must obtain an LMIA to hire foreign workers)
  • International Mobility Program (it lets employers hire temporary workers without an LMIA)

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, a Canadian employer not only can hire you to do a temporary job but also make a job offer so you will be able to apply for a permanent residency under a federal immigration program through the Express Entry System (after having worked for 1 year).

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has several streams.

Agricultural Stream

Under this stream, Canadian employers can hire foreign workers for a maximum period of 2 years — and only if they cannot find a suitable Canadian citizen or resident to fill in this position.

The temporary foreign worker may come from any country, and production must be included in the national commodity list.

The employer’s activity must be related to on-farm agriculture and must meet one of these requirements:

  • Job duties must be performed within a farm, nursery garden or greenhouse, and should involve the operation of agricultural machinery
  • Care, breeding or other treatment of animals, except fish, in order to produce raw products of animal origin for the market
  • Collection, processing and other manipulations with plants for their subsequent sale

Under this stream, the following occupations are in demand: agricultural and gardening managers, animal farmers and crop farmers, landscaping specialists, nursery garden and greenhouse workers, harvesting machine operators.

To hire a foreign agricultural worker under the agricultural stream, a Canadian employer needs to get a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Requirements for work experience, level of education and language skills depend on a specific occupation.

There is also a separate program for seasonal agricultural workers (SWAP), but it applies only to Mexicans and citizens of Caribbean countries.

In-Home Caregivers Stream

Under this stream, candidates provide in-home care to children, elderly persons (65 years of age or over) and people with disabilities, a chronic or terminal illness. Caregivers provide care on a full-time basis (minimum of 30 hours and normally 40–44 hours per week). These can be nannies, caregivers, nurses, and home care workers.

Employees are required to have at least 1 year of work experience as a nanny or nurse, a secondary education diploma, and English or French skills at a level sufficient to communicate in everyday life. Employees also should get an LMIA (provided and paid by an employer) and a work permit.

Caregivers are normally hired for 2 years, with an average wage of C$12 per hour. After having worked for two years, they can apply for permanent residence.

Academic Stream

Applicants under the academic stream must complete at least one graduate school, have teaching experience at a university and practice experience in scientific research. Academic consultants and examiners, graduates’ assistants, and self-funded researchers do not need a work permit. Others (post-doctoral students, recipients of research grants, leaders in various fields of science, guest lecturers) need a work permit but do not require to obtain an LMIA.

Global Talent Stream

This two-year pilot, launched on June 12, 2017, is intended for growing innovative firms in Canada who need unique foreign specialists whose professions are not included in the NOC (National Occupational Classification). The pilot is also designed for Canadian companies that need to fill in sought-after highly qualified positions that are on the Global Talent Occupations List.

International Mobility Program

Under the International Mobility Program, several occupations are exempt from getting a work permit (the list can be found here). This program serves Canada’s economic and cultural interests and takes different forms (reciprocal youth exchange agreements, other international agreements, transferring workers under the Intra-Company Transfer program, and others). Unlike the Temporary Foreign Worker program (that requires to obtain an employer-specific work permit), the International Mobility Program allows either open or closed work permits.