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Canada Temporary Entry: Foreign Workers

Information on temporary entry and travel to Canada. Also includes taxes and standards guides.

Canada Temporary Entry: Foreign Workers

Postby bridgat » Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:21 pm

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has made it easier for U.S. business persons and professionals to enter Canada. Nevertheless, standard requirements for personnel entry into Canada must still be met, depending on the purpose of the entry. This report provides U.S. companies with guidelines for temporary transfer of personnel to Canada. In Canada, immigration is a federal responsibility and the authority to grant entry to temporary foreign workers rests with the federal government agencies of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC). In Ontario, the Business Immigration Section of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism can assist companies and multinational corporations that are establishing or expanding operations in Ontario.

U.S. citizens do not require visas to visit Canada. However, U.S. citizens and permanent residents seeking to work in Canada must apply for employment authorizations. Applications for authorization to work in Canada may be submitted either at a Canadian port of entry or at a Visa Office of a Canadian Embassy or Consulate. U.S. permanent residents who are citizens of third countries may have to meet additional requirements. Full details regarding Canadian immigration requirements and procedures can be obtained from the offices listed below.

Canada's Immigration Act defines employment as any activity for which a person receives or might reasonably be expected to receive "valuable consideration". Canada's policy to ensure jobs for Canadian citizens and permanent residents requires Human Resource Development Canada (HRDC) to determine if employment opportunity for Canadians would be adversely affected by the recruitment of foreign workers.

Unless the position is exempt from HRDC validation, Canadian companies wishing to hire a non-Canadian worker must have a job offer "validated" by HRDC. If HRDC determines that the recruitment of a foreign worker has no negative impact on employment opportunities for Canadians, the validation will be granted. A "Foreign Worker Record" (FWR) confirming HRDC's approval, is then electronically transmitted to Canadian Immigration officials abroad and to Canadian ports-of-entry. The prospective employee must then apply for an employment authorization at the appropriate Canadian Immigration Office. Employment authorization and the FWRS on which they depend are valid for employment at a given company for a given amount of time. A FWR may be renewable dependent on the labor conditions at the time.

If specified in the original contract, supervisors, overseeing 5-10 workers may enter Canada for purposes of installation/dismantling or after-sales service. FWR is not necessary but documentation specifying these services, such as the original sales contract, must be shown for entry into Canada. U.S. citizens do not require an employment authorization to perform this sort of service.

Certain jobs do not require validation from HRDC but still require the non-Canadian to obtain an employment authorization. For example:

- Emergency employment authorization may be granted if the lack of rapid and qualified service will result in the loss of Canadian jobs. The worker must have documentation detailing the situation and reasons why it is an emergency.

- If the company has an exchange program whereby Canadians transfer to a foreign office, they may bring in foreign personnel to replace them without a Foreign Worker Record (FWR) from HRDC.

- Special programs such as the Software Development Worker Pilot Project allow for the recruitment of qualified foreign software workers in key software development areas without obtaining a FWR. U.S. citizens and permanent residents may apply at a port of entry, presenting a job offer letter detailing the specific duties of the position being offered and evidence of their qualifications for this program.

- Finally, spouses of highly skilled persons in Canada on Employment authorizations who receive a job offer may Apply in Canada for their own employment authorization without the need for a FWR. (This provision is a Pilot Project which may be extended).

The above discussion centers on temporary worker status in Canada. However, it is also possible to obtain Permanent residence and apply for a permanent job Validation in Canada. If a permanent FWR is granted, the prospective employee may then apply for permanent residence at a visa office of a Canadian Embassy or Consulate. Persons who have resided in Canada for at least three years as permanent residents are eligible,
but not required to apply for Canadian citizenship. It must be noted that the NAFTA facilitates temporary entry to Canada, not permanent residence. Foreign workers in Canada on temporary employment authorizations who decide to apply for permanent residence must do so at a Visa Office of a Canadian Embassy or Consulate.

With appropriate preparation before transferring personnel to Canada, U.S. firms can avert potential problems at the border. Immigration regulations and their application can be complex. The information in this report is intended to be a guide only. For further assistance, please refer to listed contacts. U.S. firms are encouraged to contact these sources directly for the most up-to-date rules and regulations regarding their particular situation.


Human Resources Development Canada
Ontario Region Headquarters
Employer Services Section
4900 Yonge Street, Suite 900
North York, Ontario M2N 6A8
Tel: 416-954-7275
Fax: 416-954-7282

Business Immigration Section
Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and
Hearst Block 5th Floor
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2EL
Tel: 416-325-6777
Fax: 416-325-6653
Web site:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada
25 Sinclair Avenue E.
Toronto, Ontario M4T LM2
Tel: (416) 973-4444
Posts: 1180
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2008 12:51 am

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