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Temporary Foreign

Worker Trends

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Overview of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and Regulations (IRPR) regulates the entry of all foreign
nationals to Canada and their ability to work during their stay

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is jointly managed by Human Resources and Skills Development
Canada (HRSDC) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), with growing role for provinces and territories (PTs)

Entry of foreign nationals for work is designed to be driven primarily by employer demand:
There are no numerical limits/quotas, and no significant backlogs in processing
Employers can hire foreign nationals in any occupation from any country, provided that both employers and
workers meet regulatory requirements

Employers must apply for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from HRSDC before hiring a foreign national unless a
specific exemption applies

CIC responsible for assessing work permit applications from foreign nationals and for issuance of work permits
CIC will not issue work permits where foreign nationals have completed 4 years of work in Canada, unless
exception applies



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Significant growth in TFWs entering and
residing in Canada*
Entries of TFWs increased from 110,000
in 2002 to 190,000 in 2011 (73% increase)
Number of TFWs residing in Canada
(stock) also increased from 101,000 in
2002 to 300,000 in 2011 (197% increase)
Trends largely responsive to growth in
employer demand, particularly in western
provinces
Growth of TFW stock relative to entries
suggests that growing number of TFWs
are filling positions for multiple years
Largely due to high entries and longer
stays of lower-skilled TFWs and open
work permit holders

*NOTE: All figures exclude international students and humanitarian
population



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Number of TFWs Working in Canada Increasing
Entries and TFWs Residing in Canada, 2002-2011

110,616
190,769
101,099
300,101
0
50,000
100,000
150,000
200,000
250,000
300,000
350,000
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Entries
Stock
4 4 4
Also growth in students eligible to work in
Canada*
Number of students residing in Canada
with work permits (stock) increased
dramatically from 6,800 in 2002 to
60,000 in 2011
Pressure from private educational sector
to continually expand access to work
permit programs

Student movement expected to grow given
FPT priorities on promotion and marketing
of international education
Total number of international students in
Canada has increased from 150,000 in
2002 to 239,000 in 2011








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And also Number of Students Working in Canada
In 2011, total number of TFWs plus students
with work permits was 360,000 compared to
108,000 in 2002
4 4 4
And also Number of Students Working in Canada
TFWs and Students with work permits
residing in Canada (stock), 2002-2011
6,847
60,122 101,099
300,101
107,946
360,223
0
50,000
100,000
150,000
200,000
250,000
300,000
350,000
400,000
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Students with work permits
TFWs
TFW and students with work permits
Growing Number of Low-Skilled and Open Work Permits,
and Share of High-Skilled TFWs Decreasing
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Significant growth in lower-skilled occupations and for TFWs without specified skill level (i.e. open work permits)*
Increase in number of TFWs in NOC C and D occupations from 34,000 in 2002 to over 92,000 in 2010
Increase in number of TFWs without specified skill level from 18,000 in 2002 to 102,000 in 2010
Increase in number of students with WPs from 6,800 in 2002 to 47,000 in 2010
TFWs in skilled occupations also becoming a smaller share of total population of foreign nationals authorized to work
Number of TFWs in NOC 0, A, and B occupations also increased from 48,000 in 2002 to 87,000 in 2010
But TFWs in NOC 0, A, and B occupation as share of total foreign national population authorized to work has decreased
from 45% in 2002 to 27% in 2010
Trends largely responsive to growth and changes in employer demand, particularly in western provinces
* NOTE: All figures exclude humanitarian population
0
50,000
100,000
150,000
200,000
250,000
300,000
350,000
2002 2003 2004 2005 2007 2008 2009 2010
Number of Foreign Nationals Authorized to Work by Skill Level (Stock), 2002-10
14% - Students with WPs
31% - Skill level not stated
28% - NOC C and D (incl. LCPs)
27% - NOC 0, A, and B
Increase in Foreign Nationals Working
Without a Labour Market Test
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Share of foreign nationals working under LMO-exemptions is growing
In 2011, share of foreign national population working with an LMO decreased to 35% compared to 45% in 2002*
Growth is particularly marked for International Exchange Canada (IEC) and international students with work permits
In 2011, 20% of foreign nationals resided in Canada through IEC programs compared to 13% in 2002*
In 2011, 20% of foreign nationals authorized to work were students with WPs compared to 6% in 2002
o While entries of IEC participants and students with work permits are growing, youth unemployment remains
high at about 14% nationally


* NOTE: All figures exclude humanitarian population

0
50,000
100,000
150,000
200,000
250,000
300,000
350,000
400,000
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
International Exchange
Canada
Students with work
permits
Other LMO-exempt
With LMO
Number of TFWs Authorized to Work in Canada, LMO and LMO-exempt, 2002-2011
TFWs and international students are a growing
source of permanent immigrants to Canada

Dramatic increase from 9,500 TFWs
transitioning to permanent residence in 2002
to almost 32,000 in 2010
Noting that of 32,000 TFWs who transitioned,
over 4,000 were former students with Post-
graduation Work Permit holders

In addition, increase from almost 5,800
international students transitioning to
permanent residence in 2002 to over 8,600 in
2010

Federal Skilled Workers with previous work
experience in Canada have entry earnings 27%
higher than FSWs without previous experience

Increase in TFWs and International Students
Transitioning to Permanent Residence
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0
5000
10000
15000
20000
25000
30000
35000
40000
45000
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
TFW and Student Transitions to PR,
2002-2010
TFW Transitions to PR Student Transitions
Usually requires LMO:
High-skilled: managerial, professional and technical occupations and skilled trades (NOC Levels 0, A & B)
Low-Skilled Pilot: intermediate, clerical, elemental and labourer occupations (NOC Levels C & D)
Seasonal agricultural workers: majority enter through bilateral agreements under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker
Program (SAWP), but an increasing number are entering through the Low-Skilled Pilot from non-SAWP countries
Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP): qualified temporary foreign workers come to Canada as live-in caregivers, may be
eligible to apply for permanent residence (PR)

LMO- exempt:
International trade agreements: often include facilitating the movements of workers between participating countries in
designated occupations/sectors
Canadian interests: various sub-categories including reciprocal employment (with IEC), academic exchanges, spousal
open work permits, etc.
International Exchange Canada (IEC): primary objective to promote international cultural exchanges between Canada
and other countries, mostly through Youth Mobility Agreements. DFAIT has primary responsibility
Work permit programs for international students: primary objective is to allow international students attending public
and select private educational institutions in Canada to work in Canada during their period of studies and after
graduation

Annex - Principal Streams of the TFWP
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