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Canada Work Visa

Canada is one of the few countries inthe Western World that is actively looking for immigrants, with over 250,000 new immigrants arriving in Canada every year. Independent immigration to Canada used to take a long time to process, meaning directly sponsoring a migrant worker was often the only viable option. However, in January 2015, Canada overhauled their immigration and work permit rules by launching the Express Entry system for hiring skilled long-term workers and reformed the rules for hiring temporary workers too.

Now there are 2 main options for employers who want to hire migrant workers in Canada:
  • The Express Entry Program
  • Temporary Foreign Worker Program/International Mobility Program

Express Entry (Permanent Residence for Skilled Migrants)

Express Entry is aimed at skilled workers and allows employers to select potential employees from a pool of candidates. The system ranks potential migrants according to factors such as their skills, work experience, English and French language ability, and education.

Time to obtain a Canadian work visa:

It usually takes 6 months or less to process complete Express Entry applications, but in the meantime, workers can be hired on site under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or International Mobility Program while their Express Entry application is processed.

Mistakes or omissions in the application process can cause delays. Contact us to have your candidate's application handled in-house by a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada.


This category of Canadian work visas is split into three subcategories.
  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) is frequently used by employers to bring in highly educated and skilled workers, managers, executives, and the like.
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) is designed for skilled tradespeople, such as construction specialists, natural resources industry technicians, and manufacturing supervisors.
  • The Canada Experience Class (CEC) is for migrants with previous Canadian work experience, such as international students, who often apply while already in Canada.
    The 3 National Occupation Classification List codes covered by this visa are: Managerial (Skill Level 0), Professional (Skill Type A), Technical (Skill Type B). Applications for the Canada Experience Class are not subject to a Labour Market Impact Assessment (see below). In combination with the fact that many candidates in this category are already living and working in Canada, this means that a Canada Experience Class visa may be an employer's quickest route to getting a skilled worker on site.

Labour Market Impact Assessment

If you want to hire a skilled worker through either the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Federal Skilled Trades Program, you will need to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to show that there is a genuine need for a foreign worker to fill the role and that no Canadian worker is available.

The job offer for which an LMIA is being made must meet the following conditions for each visa subcategory:
  • The Federal Skilled Worker ProgramMust be full time, permanent, and not seasonal; must be Managerial (Skill Level 0), Professional (Skill Type A), and Technical (Skill Type B) on Canada's National Occupation Classification List.
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program Must be full time and last at least 1 year; must be Technical (skill Type B) on Canada's National Occupation Classification List; and must offer wages and conditions at a similar level to those offered to native Canadians working in the same role.
  • Canadian Experience Class: A Labour Market Impact Assessment is not needed for this visa subcategory.However, applications supported by an assessment receive extra points and are more likely to be successful. The conditions for this subcategory are the same as for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (above).


Under the Express Entry program, any dependent family members of the main applicant are also granted permanent residence in Canada and enjoy all the same rights to live, work, and study in the country. However, under the TFWP program, dependent family members must make their own visa applications, but the main candidate's status may help, especially if they're highly skilled and will be working in Canada for 6 months or more. If a candidate wants to take their family with them, please contact us for advice tailored to their case.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program/International Mobility Program Time to obtain a Canadian work visa: A minimum of 30 days.

    The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP) are very similar visa categories, which allow employers to hire migrant workers to fill short-term labour and skills shortages. Which program you use is determined by whether you need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA); those who do should apply under the TFWP, while those that don't should use the IMP.

    To find out if you need an LMIA, you can review the Canadian government's list of LMIA exemption codes yourself, which can be a complex and lengthy process. Alternatively, our in-house Canadian immigration specialists can handle the entire application for you.

    Once you know which visa category to apply for, you can make the candidate an official job offer, after which they can apply for a Canadian work permit.