Canada took in an estimated 125,000 temporary foreign workers in 2007. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) works with other federal departments, provinces and stakeholders to respond to labour market needs across Canada.
The Government of Canada tries to maximize the benefits foreign workers bring while at the same time protecting the interests of Canadians who may already be ready and willing to do the job. The temporary foreign worker units will serve as optional first points of contact for any employer wishing to hire temporary foreign workers. They advise employers whether they can benefit from the service and, if so, the procedures to follow.
In general, the units provide facilitation services to employers to hire workers who do not require visas to come to Canada for professions that are not subject to verification that there are no Canadians available to do the job. For those who do require visas or who want to work in jobs that require what is known as a labour market opinion, which verifies that there are no Canadians available, the units can advise employers on the process.
The Labour Market Opinion is rendered by Service Canada. The opinion also ensures that the offer is consistent with Canadian wages and working conditions. Subsequent steps may include the issuance of visas and work permits by CIC overseas posts and the Canada Border Services Agency.
Finally, it should be noted that some jobs do not require a work permit. The units provide advice on those that might qualify for an exemption.
Occupations that do not require a Labour Market Opinion include workers who enter Canada under international labour mobility agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement. This includes such professionals as accountants, engineers, architects, dentists and geologists, to name a few. In-house company transferees, workers with specialized knowledge, senior managers and professors participating in academic exchanges may also be exempt. Foreign workers who are part of reciprocal employment arrangements and those who intend to perform work that would be of significant benefit to Canada may also be exempt.
Occupations that may not require work permits include adjudicators in the arts, emergency services personnel responding to a disaster, visiting university lecturers, flight crew and civil aviation inspectors. In addition, some journalists, business visitors, performing artists, guest speakers, religious leaders, and their support staff may not require a work permit.