Temporary Foreign Worker Program – COVID-19

Employment and Social Development Canada

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Temporary Foreign Workers are being allowed to continue travelling to Canada. As of March 26, 2020, the travel restriction exemptions that were announced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada are in place.

Allowing foreign workers to enter Canada recognizes of the vital role these workers play in supporting food security and other industries critical to the Canadian economy.

Like all Canadians, Temporary Foreign Worker Program employers and workers are expected to follow the latest public health and safety requirements and/or guidance from the Government of Canada and their provincial/territorial and local authorities to help prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19.

The Government of Canada is working with employers, workers and stakeholders to ensure that they are aware of their obligations to comply with public health requirements in the context of COVID-19. The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, have shared a joint letter with employers outlining the Government of Canada’s expectations. Further information can be found on the Temporary Foreign Worker compliance page of Employment and Social Development Canada.

Service Canada continues to process Labour Market Impact Assessment applications (LMIAs).

New measures for employers who seek to bring in workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Government of Canada is also taking measures to improve flexibility and reduce the administrative burden for employers. The following measures are being applied proactively to all existing LMIA applications under review, as well as to new applications as they are received:

  • employers are not required to submit minor administrative changes to the LMIA that would not change the terms and conditions
  • recruitment requirements for LMIAs in key occupations related to the agriculture and agri-food sectors are being waived until October 31, 2020. 
  • LMIAs in key occupations related to the agriculture and agri-food sectors will be be prioritized for processing.
  • the maximum duration of employment under LMIAs is increased from 1 to 2 years for employers of workers in the low-wage stream as part of a three-year pilot
  • employers applying under the Agricultural stream or Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program can submit a previously valid Housing Inspection Report (HIR), and
  • the name change processes for employers wishing to change the name of already identified foreign worker, for reasons related to COVID-19, has been expedited

Note: If an employer cannot submit a valid HIR due to COVID-19, they must try to provide a satisfactory HIR obtained within the previous 3 years. They must also provide a valid HIR to ESDC within the duration of the work permit issued by that LMIA. If an employer cannot provide a satisfactory HIR obtained in the previous 3 years, an LMIA can be issued if photos of the accommodation are provided and the employer agrees to submit an updated HIR to ESDC within the duration of the work permit issued by that LMIA.

When available, further information will be posted to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program website.

Contact us

For immediate assistance with your LMIA application, please contact the Employer Contact Centre from Monday to Friday, between 7:00 am and 8:00 pm, Eastern time:
Within Canada and the United States:

  • Toll-free: 1-800-367-5693
  • TTY: 1-855-881-9874

Outside Canada and the United States:

  • 506-546-7569 (collect calls accepted)