Who is a Temporary Foreign Worker?

Thousands of foreign workers come to Canada every year. They work temporarily in small or large businesses. Some may accept managerial positions while others work as professionals or even low skilled workers. Regardless, the Temporary Foreign Work Program (TFWP) allows Canadian employers to hire an international workforce to fill their job vacancies.  Of course, they have to make sure foreign workers do not take away opportunities from Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Who is a Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW)?

A temporary foreign worker is someone who meets the following criteria:

  • They are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and
  • They are working in Canada legally

Generally speaking, you may work in Canada legally under one of the following circumstances:

What is an LMIA?

Labour Market Impact Assessment is a confirmation letter from the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). This letter states hiring the foreign national does not affect the Canadian job market negatively. For obtaining a positive LMIA, the employer must satisfy the ESDC,

  • The business is legitimate (e.g. have other employees, been in the market for a while, have enough money to pay salaries, etc.);
  • they have tried to hire Canadians but failed; and
  • they meet other requirements

Read the following article for more information on this subject:

After you receive your LMIA you may apply for a work permit.   

What is IMP?

IMP stands for International Mobility Program. Simply put, IMP allows a person to apply for a work permit without an LMIA. Here is a brief list of LMIA exemption situations.

  • Agreements [R204]
    • Applying the North American Free Trade Agreement and other international free trade agreements (NAFTA)
    • Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
    • Canada-International non-trade agreements
    • Provincial nominees
  • Canadian interests [R205]
  • Applicants with no other means of support [R206]
  • Permanent residence applicants in Canada [R207]
  • Humanitarian reasons [R208]
  • Unique work situations
  • Special initiatives and pilot projects

The letter “R” refers to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (e.g. R204 means section 204 of the Regulations). You may read the following article for more information:

If you intend to work in Canada, consider reading the following article:

If you wish to visit or move to Canada, please fill out our free assessment form. We will review the form for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal advice from a licenced practitioner.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada


This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice. Do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. We cannot be held responsible for the content of these articles. If you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. If you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.

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