Stream for Higher-skilled Occupations

The Stream for Higher-skilled Occupations allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers (TFW) in higher-skilled positions, such as: management, professional, scientific, technical or trade occupations, when Canadian citizens and permanent residents are not available.

Description

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) uses the 2006 edition of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) coding system to determine the specific skill level of an occupation. As a result employers are encouraged to find the NOC code of their available position, to ensure they can apply under the Stream for Higher-skilled Occupations.

To find the NOC code of the available position, employers should:

  1. Visit the NOC website.
  2. Conduct a search, by entering the job title or keywords related to the position in the "Quick Search" box located at the bottom left-hand side of the menu bar.
  3. Press "GO" to have the system generate a list of possible occupations.
  4. Review each of the occupations provided in the list.
  5. Select the 4-digit NOC code associated with the occupation that matches the education, employment requirements and main duties of the available position.

Once the most appropriate NOC code has been found, employers can determine its skill level by looking at the first 2 digits of the NOC code. Positi ons under the Stream for Higher-skilled Occupations are defined as:

Management Occupations (first digit 0)
Occupations that begin with the digit 0 refer to management occupations and are not associated with a specific skill level, but rather are assigned the skill type 0.

Skill level A (second digit 1)
The entry requirements are:

  • University degree (bachelor's, masters or doctorate)

Skill level B (second digit 2 or 3)
The entry requirements are:

  • 2 to 3 years of post-secondary education at community college, institute of
  • 2 to 5 years of apprenticeship training; or
  • 3 to 4 years of secondary school and more than 2 years of on-the-job training, occupation specific training courses or specific work experience.

Occupations with supervisory or significant health and safety responsibilities, such as: firefighters, police officers and registered nursing assistants are all assigned to skill level B.

Employers may want to get a print out of the description of the selected NOC codes and indicate whether it is a skill type 0, or skill level A or B. This information will assist when searching for the prevailing wage rate, and determining the recruitment effort required to fill the position.

Note:
Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), there are special circumstances when:

Requirements

Employers, who wish to hire a TFW in a higher-skilled position, must ensure that all requirements of the Stream are met.


Processing Fee

Employers must pay $275 for each position requested (e.g. $275 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 LMO processing fee 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).

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 must ensure that the TFW is being hired to fill a skilled position that requires a post-secondary education (e.g. university degree, college diploma or apprenticeship training). In addition, employers are responsible for verifying that the TFW has all the necessary training, qualifications and experience to perform the work in Canada.

Regulated Occupations

Employers hiring a TFW in regulated occupations in Canada must ensure that arrangements are made with the appropriate regulatory body for the certification, registration or licensing of the TFW. 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, registration or licence (e.g. doctors, engineers, nurses, skilled trade occupations with compulsory certification).

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will consider whether the TFW has the necessary qualifications to perform the work in Canada before issuing a work permit.


Business Licence or Documentation

All new employers to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) must provide a copy of their provincial/territorial/municipal business licence (where applicable) to show that they are actively engaged in the business where the TFW will be working.

Depending on the business, new and returning employers may also be required to submit a copy of one or more of the following documents:

  • 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 (where applicable and if first LMO application), including:
    • T4 Summary of Remuneration Paid (most current year ending)
    • Schedules 100 and 125 of the T2 Corporation Income Tax Return (for corporations only - 2 most recent returns filed)
    • T2125 Statement of Business or Professional Activities (for sole proprietorships/partnerships - 2 most recent returns filed)
  • Business contracts for goods and/or services;
  • Provincial/territorial documents, such as: workplace safety and insurance (e.g. workers compensation board) clearance letter, or other appropriate documentation;
  • Attestation by a lawyer, notary public or chartered accountant confirming that the business exists and the main activity of the business;
  • Provincial/territorial documentation requirements:
    • 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.
    • Manitoba – Certificate of Registration (Manitoba’s Worker Recruitment and Protection Act).
    • Nova Scotia – Employers must, as of August 1, 2013, obtain a certificate of registration, valid for one year, from the province's Labour Standards, if they are planning to hire a foreign worker. The application form for a certificate is currently available online.

Union Consultation

Although it is not a mandatory requirement, if the position being filled by the TFW 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 TFW for the available job;
  • confirm that the conditions of the collective agreement (e.g. wages, working conditions) will apply to the TFW.
Note:
  • ESDC/Service Canada may contact the union for more information.
  • The position offered to the TFW cannot affect current or foreseeable labour disputes at the workplace, or the employment of any Canadian or permanent resident workers involved in these disputes.

Third-party Representatives and Recruiters

Employers do not need to use the services of a third-party representative or recruiter to apply for a TFW. However, employers who choose to use the services of one of these individuals or organizations must pay for all of the fees associated with the service and meet all of the applicable requirements.

Representatives assist employers by providing services, such as:

  • explaining and providing advice on the TFWP;
  • completing and submitting the application form and all required documents;
  • communicating with ESDC/Service Canada on the employer’s behalf; and
  • representing the employer during the application process.

Employers who wish to use the services of a representative, paid or unpaid, must complete and submit Schedule A - Appointment of a Third-party Representative. Employers must identify their representative and not simply the firm/organization employing this person.

Paid Representatives

Individuals representing or assisting employers in exchange for compensation (e.g. money, goods or services) must be authorized under section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which means they have to be a member in good standing with:

  • a Canadian provincial/territorial law society, or a student-at-law under its supervision;
  • the Chambre des notaires du Québec;
  • the Province of Ontario’s law society as a paralegal; or
  • the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).

Employers should visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to verify that a specific representative is authorized to represent them or provide immigration advice.

Unpaid Representatives

Individuals representing employers for free (e.g. do not collect fees or other forms of compensation) are not subject to any restrictions under the IRPA. These individuals are usually family members, non-for-profit or religious organizations that assist employers who may not be able to complete the application process on their own.

Recruiters

Recruiters can assist employers by providing services such as:

  • placing job advertisements for the recruitment of TFWs;
  • screening potential employees;
  • making travel arrangements; and
  • negotiating wages/salaries on behalf of the employer.

Employers, using the services of a paid recruiter to represent them during the LMO application process, must complete the Third-party, Recruiter or Employer Agency Information section of the application form as well as the separate Schedule A - Appointment of a Third-party Representative. The paid recruiter representing the employer must be a member of one of the groups authorized under section 91 of the IRPA.

If a paid representative is not authorized under the IRPA, ESDC/Service Canada will continue to process the application, but will communicate with the employer directly. However, a copy of a signed letter stating that the employer is no longer using the services of the original representative will be required before the employer can:

  • hire another paid authorized representative; or
  • work with an unpaid representative.

Employers who wish to appoint another representative must also submit a new Schedule A - Appointment of a Third-party Representative.

Note:
ESDC/Service Canada:
  • reserves the right to contact employers directly when further information or documentation is required.
  • will not mediate a dispute between an employer and a third-party representative nor communicate complaints to a regulatory body on an employer’s behalf. Employers who wish to file a formal complaint against their representative should contact the appropriate regulatory body (e.g. the provincial law society, the Chambre des notaires du Québec or the ICCR). For additional information on how to file a complaint, visit CIC.

Wages, Working Conditions and Occupations

Employers hiring temporary foreign workers (TFW) 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 TFWs 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 TFWs. The exploitation of a TFW 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 TFWs 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 TFWs to perform duties for which they were not hired or trained (e.g. if an employer submits an application to hire a TFW 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 TFWs.

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 TFW. 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


Additional Advertisement Efforts

Employers may be required to conduct alternative or additional advertisement efforts such as, increased duration (length of time) or broader advertisement (whether local, regional or national). These additional efforts would be required if ESDC/Service Canada determines that it would likely yield qualified Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are available to work in the occupation and region.


Proof of Advertisement

Employers must demonstrate that they meet the advertising requirements by providing proof of advertisement and the results of their efforts to recruit Canadian citizens and permanent residents (e.g. copy of advertisement and information to support where, when and for how long the position was advertised). Records of the employers' efforts should be kept for a minimum of 6 years, as stipulated in provincial/territorial and federal legislation, such as the Income Tax Act. ESDC/Service Canada may request these documents for future assessments.

How to Apply

Employers who want to hire a TFW must submit the labour market opinion (LMO) application along with all the required supporting documentation to Employment and Skills Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada.

In essence, employers are applying for an opinion on the impact that hiring a TFW 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/territorial 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 - Employers must review the process for Hiring Temporary Foreign Workers for this province.
  • Saskatchewan – Employers must:

Step-by-step – Checklist

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

To Apply

Under the Stream for Higher-skilled Occupations employers can choose between 2 options to submit an LMO application:

  1. Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Web Service (online); or
  2. paper application form (by mail or fax).

1. Temporary Foreign Worker Web Service

The TFW Web Service reduces the paper burden and speeds the processing of LMO applications. In addition, employers using the Web Service will have the opportunity to:

  • have an online account where they can update their profile information;
  • complete and submit online LMO applications;
  • create and assign secondary representatives, as needed, to assist with completing the applications;
  • attach files instead of mailing the required documentation;
  • receive electronic messages from Service Canada regarding their application (e.g. missing documentation);
  • monitor the status of their LMO applications.
  • Employers and authorized third-party representatives can consult the Registration Guide and Form to complete the one-time only registration form, to set up their online account. Once the registration is approved, they can proceed to LOGIN to apply for their LMO.
  • LOGINTFW Web Service.

2. Paper Application Form

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

  1. LMO Application Form (EMP5517).
  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. Proof of recruitment (e.g. copy of advertisement and information to support where, when and for how long the position was advertised).
  5. Business registration or legal incorporation documents (if first LMO application).
  6. Provincial/territorial/municipal business licence (where applicable and if first LMO application).
  7. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) documents (where applicable and if first LMO application), including:
    • T4 Summary of Remuneration Paid
    • Schedules 100 and 125 of the T2 Corporation Income Tax Return (for corporations only – 2 most recent returns filed)
    • T2125 Statement of Business or Professional Activities (for sole proprietorships/partnerships – 2 most recent returns filed)
  8. Provincial/territorial documentation:
    • 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.
    • Manitoba – Certificate of Registration (Manitoba's Worker Recruitment and Protection Act).
    • Nova Scotia – Employers must, as of August 1, 2013, obtain a certificate of registration, valid for one year, from the province's Labour Standards, if they are planning to hire a foreign worker. The application form for a certificate is currently available online.

Send all documentation:

By Mail or Fax:
To the Service Canada Centre responsible for processing the LMO applications in the region where the TFW will be employed.

For assistance – Phone:
The Service Canada Centre responsible for processing the LMO applications in the region where the TFW will be employed.

Next Steps

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


Labour Market Opinion Assessment Process

All LMO 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 Citizenship and Immigration Canada's (CIC) Web site; 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 TFW 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 TFW on the labour market including:
      1. wages and working conditions offered;
      2. occupation in which the TFW 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 TFW within the 2 years preceding the date of the new LMO 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 LMO 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 LMO

The employer will receive a letter confirming the approval of the LMO application. This positive LMO is valid for 6 months from the date of issue. For privacy reasons, the letter will not include the names of the TFWs. 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 TFW as it is not required for the purposes of applying for a work permit.

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

  • send a copy of this letter to the TFW;
  • ask the TFW to apply to CIC for a work permit. The TFW must include with the work permit application a copy of the positive LMO letter signed by both the employer and the worker.

Provincial Variations

If the job is located in Quebec, the employer must:

  • send to the TFW a copy of the:
    • positive LMO letter issued jointly by ESDC and the Ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles (MICC)
    • Quebec Certificate of Acceptance issued by MICC
  • ask the TFW to submit this documentation along with the work permit application to CIC. Visit CIC's Web site to find a Canadian Visa Office.

Work Permit

CIC will then assess the TFW's work permit application. If the assessment is positive, the TFW will receive a work permit to be able 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 TFW 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 TFW 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 TFW'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 TFW has worked on a weekly/monthly basis.

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

Employers must apply for a new LMO when they anticipate that their need for TFWs will continue beyond the period covered by the work permit. The new LMO 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.


Revocation of an LMO

The revocation of an LMO means overturning the decision based on new information, which changes the opinion from positive to negative.

An LMO may be revoked if it has not yet expired, work permits or permanent residence visas have not been issued by CIC, and if one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  • The employer has provided materially false or misleading information.
  • New facts or information are brought forward after a positive LMO has been issued, that would have changed the assessment of the application, resulting in a negative LMO.
  • The opinion was based on an unintentional error as to some material fact.

The revocation of an LMO is based on reliable and documented evidence that confirms that the new information or altered circumstances would have had an impact on the assessment of the factors listed under section 203 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).


Negative LMO

ESDC/Service Canada issues a negative LMO 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 TFWs 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 LMO letter and annexes.

Employers must also follow all federal/provincial/territorial employment regulations and laws, as all workers in Canada, including TFWs, 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 TFW within the past 2 years and are submitting a new LMO application may be subject to an employer compliance review.

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

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

More information is available in the Employer Compliance brochure.