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Hiring a foreign worker: where to start?

Me Natacha MIGNON - 04/22/2021

Canada has just been named the best country in the world and the top destination for international talent: ensuring excellent prospects for growth for companies in Greater Montreal.


What immigration paths should be used to recruit foreign talents?

There are many programs for obtaining a work permit.

Before starting, an employer needs to understand the basics regarding immigration to Canada for a foreign worker, to undo certain common preconceptions and develop the right reflexes when it comes to temporary immigration.

Here are four major principles employers need to know when hiring a foreign worker.

Is a work permit always necessary?

Almost always!

“Work” is a notion that covers a large area, including all “activity giving rise to a salary or commission, or which directly competes with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.” This can therefore include an unpaid work experience or even a voluntary unpaid activity.

It goes therefore without saying that an employer should not allow a foreign worker to carry out a trial period or training before the latter has obtained a work permit.

Which work permit should be obtained?

Employers often refer to the idea of  “sponsoring” a candidate in order to obtain a work permit.

The analogy is of interest as most work permits (except open work permits) are issued on the prerequisite of a job offer in Canada. However, a simple offer of a job from a Canadian employer is not usually enough to allow a foreigner to work in Canada.

When applying for a work permit, a well-established process has to be respected, which can take from several hours to several weeks of processing, depending on the case.

Should you give up? Absolutely not!

But the employer should know the different available programs and choose the one best suited to the job offered and the foreign talent to be recruited.

Before applying for a work permit, the general rule is to undertake a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and apply for a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ). This is to show that the recruitment of the foreign worker does not have a negative impact on the Canadian labor market.

If the “classic” LMIA procedure requires advertising of the job offer across Canada and a plan of transition, there are numerous exceptions:

– The Global Talent LMIA is processed without advertising and within 13 working days;

– The simplified Quebec LMIA for jobs in high demand in the province.

Also, candidates can often benefit from the international mobility programs, such as the Young Professionals permit or the intra-company transfers, for which a LMIA is not required.

What is the main information needed to determine the right program for a work permit application?

– Candidate’s nationality;
– Age;
– Completed qualifications;
– Current and past work experience;
– Salary conditions, title, and job role envisaged in Canada.

What happens in the case of the termination of the employment?

When recruiting a foreign worker, employers often hesitate believing they must guarantee the job for the duration of the employee’s work permit, even if the relationship between the two deteriorates.

This is not the case. Foreign workers have the same rights as Canadian citizens, no more, no less. Therefore, as for a Canadian, he/she can be dismissed or made redundant, in accordance with labor laws in Quebec and/or Canada.

This must therefore also be taken into consideration by the foreign talent who should know that a work permit does not guarantee his job.

What are the options for retaining foreign talent?

A work permit can be issued for a few days or up to 36 months.

The work permit can also then be extended. However, depending on the job offered, the extension can be limited to a certain number of years or made under another category. This temporary status, therefore, implies, according to Canadian immigration laws, that the foreign worker will leave the territory at the end of the authorized stay.

Therefore, and in order to avoid any uncertainties, we recommend the question of “post-work permit” be addressed during the first months of employment in order to anticipate what happens next as early as possible. For example, if the foreign worker states his intention to settle in Quebec permanently, he/she can, for instance, then be orientated towards the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ), which allows a skilled foreign worker to obtain his/her Quebec Certificate of Selection (CSQ).

The CSQ will probably allow him/her to extend his/her work permit until he/she obtains permanent residency. One of the conditions of this program is a good knowledge of French. Here also, in anticipation of this, a foreign talent who needs to, could take language lessons in order to comply with these criteria.


To conclude, let us remember that Canada has set an important immigration target for 2021-2023 with the ambition of welcoming 401 000 permanent residents in 2021.


The current article is based on recent events and is liable to change at any time. The last update is dated 22 April 2021.

This article contains general information regarding immigration, is intended to provide a general understanding of the terms and does not constitute legal advice. For complete legal advice, contact our professionals.

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