Is hiring TFWs a solution for my business? Where do I start?


Is hiring TFWs a solution for my business? Where do I start?


This is the first blog in a series on hiring foreign workers to meet your employment needs. This post is part of a sponsored series by Immigration Care.

You have a labour shortage. You have heard from other employers that hiring foreign workers can be a good tool to mitigate the impacts labour shortages have on production goals, meeting client expectations and more. 

You wonder if hiring foreign workers could be a good solution for your business, but where do you start, what do you have to consider and how long will it take? 

Getting started: Where do I find a foreign candidate?

Employers find their foreign candidates in different ways, such as via a word-of-mouth referral, by talking to other employers who hire foreign workers or other (previous) foreign workers, via receiving foreign applicants in response to in or outside Canada advertising (employers often receive many applications from overseas once they start advertising for their labour market impact assessment or LMIA) or via engaging the services of recruiter or referral service.

Selecting the right people

I can’t stress enough that it is important for employers to interview and thoroughly assess the foreign candidate. You are not only hiring their skill set but the success of hiring a foreign worker is also impacted by many other factors such as the candidate’s and their family’s ability to adjust to life in Canada, or, if the family is not accompanying, their ability to handle prolonged periods of separation or possible inadmissibility concerns which may result in a work permit refusal or delayed processing of the work permit application.  

How do I get started? 

The short answer is “it depends”. It depends on a variety of factors such as the role you are trying to fill, the nationality of the foreign worker and in which country the candidate resides.

There are 2 general programs for hiring a foreign worker and both programs consist of 2 main steps. They are The International Mobility Program in which the employer has to submit an Offer of Employment using their Employer Portal and the foreign candidate will have to apply for a temporary work permit. THere is also The Temporary Foreign Worker Program, through which the employer has to obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and the foreign candidate will have to apply for a temporary work permit. We will explore both of these programs in a follow up blog. 


It is difficult to give an indication of timelines because they vary greatly depending on the circumstances and processing times for the different types of applications change. 

Hot tip: Applicants from visa-exempt countries can apply for a work permit at a Canadian port of entry for most types of work permits and have the permit issued on the spot rather than submitting the application online and waiting weeks or months for it to be processed. 

As an example, this means that an applicant from France under the Francophone Mobility stream of the International Mobility program, can be in Canada with a valid work permit in a matter of days. On the other end, including the period of advertising, it is not unusual for a low-wage LMIA application to take 2 to 3 months to be processed and the work permit application processing times vary depending on the visa post, which can take a few weeks to a few months and some instances it is currently even taking close to a year.  

Additionally, some countries such as the Philippines and Thailand, require the employer and the candidate to obtain an “exit pass” before the applicant is permitted to leave the country. This process will tack on more time to the overall process before the foreign worker can start their employment in Canada.


Most work permits are issued for a 1 to 3 years duration, and most can be extended, or the candidate has to switch to a different type of work permit. We find that most foreign candidates are eligible to apply for permanent residence under one or more of the permanent residency streams after 1 year of employment in Canada. 


There are many factors to consider when hiring a foreign worker, notwithstanding that programs and government priorities are always changing. Just like with your accounts, you don’t have to hire a bookkeeper or an accountant, to hire a foreign worker.  

However, if you don’t want to invest your time to assess all the options and the program criteria, you can hire a professional immigration consultant or lawyer to navigate these processes on your behalf effectively and efficiently.

Have a question? Ask me - Martine Varekamp-Bos, PH 403.346.0445 and read more at Immigration Care.