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Currently Working Temporarily In Canada? Share This With Your Employer

We’ve created this guide for anyone who wants to share information with their employer about the employee-sponsorship process and associated costs. Please feel free to share it with your employer if your temporary permit ends soon.

Understanding Your Employee’s Expiring Work Permit

Canada’s immigration system includes a range of temporary permits that allow foreign nationals to come to Canada and work for a specified period of time. When these permits expire, the foreign worker either needs to apply for and receive another temporary work permit or permanent residence (if they wish to remain in Canada and work legally). 

If your employee is eligible for permanent residence (PR), they may be in a position to submit an application and wait for a decision. If they have a pending PR application with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), they may be eligible to apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit. During the processing of this work permit they will be on  ‘maintained status’. While they are on maintained status, they can keep working for a Canadian employer on the terms of their temporary work permit. 

If your employee is not yet eligible for one of Canada’s permanent resident pathways, they will need to get another temporary work permit


Helping Your Employee With Permanent Residence

While both a temporary work permit or successful permanent residence application will allow your employee to continue working in Canada, permanent residence is usually best since it’s a longer-term solution. It can also be more cost-effective. 

However, your employee’s ability to get permanent residence in Canada depends on their individual circumstances. There are a range of pathways to permanent residence, with the most common being economic immigration (often through Express Entry). 

What Can An Employer Do To Help An Employee With Permanent Residence? 

As an employer, you can’t sponsor an employee for permanent residence. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to help your employee transition to permanent residence in Canada. 

You can help them strengthen their application for permanent residence through demonstrated skilled work experience, a valid job offer, and/or an employer supported provincial nomination. 

Meet Skilled Work Experience Requirements

Canada’s economic immigration system categorizes the skills associated with an employee’s work experience based on job duties. There are more immigration programs available for workers with experience working in higher skilled positions. 

For example, only candidates with experience within specific skill levels are eligible for Express Entry (TEER 0, 1, 2, and 3). 

So, employers can work with employees to move them into roles that meet the criteria for Canada’s economic immigration PR pathways. 

You can search for your employee’s TEER level here.

Employer Job Offer

There are many instances where an employer job offer benefits an economic immigration application. For instance, a valid job offer for Express Entry can increase your employee’s CRS score by 50 to 200 points. This increases their chances of being invited to apply for Express Entry. However, providing a valid job offer is less straightforward than it seems at first glance. 

For a job offer to be valid for Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker or Canadian Experience Class (2 Express Entry Programs), it must be supported by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), unless it’s in an LMIA-exempt position. 

We’ll discuss LMIAs in more detail in the temporary work permit section below. 

There are also other programs where a job offer is required as part of the eligibility criteria. For instance, for those in the Atlantic provinces, providing a foreign worker with a job offer may mean they are eligible to apply for PR under the Atlantic Immigration Program.


Employer Support For Provincial Nomination

While the requirements vary between provinces and territories, many Provincial Nominee Programs exist that allow employers to support their employee’s PNP application, which in turn will allow your employee to apply for PR status in Canada. You will need to carefully review the guidance for the specific province/territory and program to work out exactly what’s required. Generally speaking, you will need to provide some or all of the following: 

  • An Employer Declaration. 
  • Letter of Recommendation
  • Signed Job Offer. 
  • Detailed Job Description. 
  • Company information, including certificate of incorporation and business license. 

Financial Support

Finally, applying for permanent residence comes with additional expenses. So, you can offer your employee financial assistance for the application. Typically, they will need to pay for the following: 

  • Language tests (around $300). 
  • Medical exams ($1000+).
  • Police checks (variable). 
  • Express Entry application fee ($950). 

Many applicants also opt to hire an immigration consultant. Applying for permanent residency is complex, so many applicants believe the fees are well worthwhile. 

Sponsoring Your Employee For A Temporary Work Permit

If your employee is not eligible for permanent residency (yet), you’ll need to consider their options for a temporary work permit. 

The cheapest option here is for them to get an International Experience Canada (IEC) permit. These are very affordable and typically allow the participant to live and work in Canada for 1-3 years. However, eligibility is limited to participants from select countries, and if your employee has already completed one IEC stay, they may need to apply for a different program (if one is available).

Assuming they aren’t eligible for an IEC work permit, the usual process for most employees would be to apply for an LMIA, and then a temporary work permit. 

Getting An LMIA In Canada

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that shows no Canadian permanent residents or citizens are available to fill a specific position.

This document allows a business in Canada to hire a foreign worker temporarily. (Yes, an employee who is currently employed by you in Canada and who is on an expiring work permit will be considered a foreign worker). It is generally required, unless the position is LMIA-exempt

The process for an employer to get an LMIA can take months, and involves carefully reviewing job duties and advertising that role in multiple locations to determine if there are Canadian permanent residents or citizens available to fill that role. If there are suitably qualified workers available, you won’t be able to receive an LMIA (or sponsor your employee). If there are not, you can apply for the LMIA. The application fee at the time of writing (July 2024) is $1,000 per position. 

We have published an in-depth summary of the LMIA that you can review for more information about how to get an LMIA.

Employer Compliance – LMIAs

It is worth noting that there are compliance requirements for employers that apply for and receive an LMIA to hire a foreign worker. The penalties for non-compliance can be steep, and have increased in recent years. In the 12 months prior to March 31, 2024, the monetary penalties for non-compliance increased 36% year-over-year, totalling $2.1 million. 12 employers were banned from employing foreign workers as a result of the inspections in that period too, up from 7 in the previous 12-month period. 

So, what are the employer requirements? 

As an employer, you must: 

  • Meet the requirements of the LMIA and any associated documents or regulations; 
  • Keep all relevant records for six years, from the first day of employment. 
  • Inform the ESDC of any changes in the temporary worker’s working conditions.
  • Voluntarily report any compliance issues. 

The LMIA requirements often relate to the number of hours the employee must work per week (typically 40), and how much they are paid. Employers must pay their employee at least the median hourly wage for that position, as provided by Canada Job Bank wages reporting

This can pose some strategic challenges for employers and employees. 

LMIA Streams

Temporary work permits fall into streams: two of them being high wage and low wage. High wage positions generally benefit from faster processing, and many of these high wage positions are eligible for Express Entry. However, the wages may be higher than what you are currently paying, so you may need to provide a pay rise for the employee if they wish to transition to permanent residence through Express Entry. 

Low wage positions are subject to a cap, with employers only being able to employ up to 20% of their workforce using foreign workers (with some exceptions in agriculture, healthcare, and construction). These positions also have a longer processing time than other streams, and there may be issues with your employee transitioning to permanent residence after the work permit finishes. (Some low wage positions will be eligible for permanent residence through Express Entry, but it’s something that should be considered at this point.)

In sum, you and your employee should look at the bigger picture for permanent residence when applying for your LMIA. If you don’t, you may end up going through the same process in two years to keep that employee. 

Applying For A Temporary Work Permit

If an employer receives a positive LMIA (which states there is a need for workers in Canada), then the employee can apply for a temporary work permit. 

The employer will need to provide the positive LMIA, as well as a formal job offer for the employee to apply. It’s worth noting as an employer that there will be specific hourly wage requirements that you must meet to employ a foreign worker temporarily. 

From there, the employee will typically apply to extend their work permit. If the application is successful, they may receive an employer-specific work permit which means the employee can only work for the specific employer named on the permit. The temporary permit will also restrict how long that employee can work legally in Canada (often two years). It may also restrict the location the employee can work at, if the employer has multiple locations in Canada. 

Processing times vary, and are published monthly here. However, your employee can expect to wait 1-2 months for their work permit to be processed. 

Get Help From A Qualified Immigration Consultant

Applying for and receiving a positive LMIA is a fairly technical area of immigration. While you are allowed to apply on your own behalf,getting help from a registered immigration consultant is usually a good investment.

We have partnered with a number of registered immigration consultants who would be happy to help you. 

See our recommended consultants

About the author

Rebecca Major profile picture
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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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Citation "Sponsoring Your Employee To Stay In Canada: A Guide For Canadian Employers." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation