Immigration is pivotal in Canada’s labor market growth, accounting for nearly 100%. It not only addresses the country’s economic demands but also supports its social welfare systems.
However, this relationship is reciprocal. Economic immigrants, the largest group of newcomers to Canada, must find employment to sustain themselves and work towards PR. A vital step in their settlement in Canada.
To understand the journey of economic immigrants who require both a work permit and a job to achieve PR status, we can analyze historical data on these aspects. Two recent studies conducted by Statistics Canada, spanning from 2010 to 2020, delve into the composition of work permit holders in Canada and compare them to employment records, providing valuable insights into this matter.
Primary Pathways for Work Permits
Canada offers two primary pathways for work permits. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). These programs encompass various work permit streams designed for different purposes.
It’s crucial to distinguish between these two programs. The TFWP tackles labor shortages in Canada, especially when domestic sources cannot fill these gaps. Work permits under the TFWP require a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). A document that assesses the impact of hiring a foreign worker on the Canadian job market. Typically, TFWP work permits are associated with a specific employer in a particular industry.
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On the other hand, the IMP aims to support Canada’s broader social, cultural, and economic objectives. IMP work permits do not necessitate an LMIA and often come in open work permits. It allows holders to work for almost any employer in various industries.
Which Program Issued the Most Work Permits Over the Last Decade?
Data indicates that in 2010, at the beginning of the reference period, TFWP work permits accounted for 32.9% of the total 531,700 issued, totaling 174,876 permits. During the same period, IMP work permits numbered 225,440, constituting 42.4%. In 2021, out of 963,400 work permits, TFWP issued 145,473 permits, making up 15.1%, while IMP work permits reached 526,016, representing 54.6% of the total.
Over the years, the IMP has gained prominence. While the TFWP’s share of issued work permits has steadily declined. The growth of the IMP has been substantial, nearly quadrupling the number of work permits issued during the ten-year reference period. This growth can be attributed primarily to two immigration streams within the IMP that experienced significant increases. Post-graduation employment and work permit for study purposes.
Significantly, the total number of work permits has nearly doubled in the last ten years. Reflecting the growing role of immigration in addressing labor market shortages. Simultaneously, the TFWP’s prevalence has significantly decreased, except for specific programs in agriculture. Which have witnessed a moderate increase over the last decade. These findings suggest that Canada can now meet much of its labor market demand. Through workers already within the country, with a few exceptions in sectors facing persistent job vacancies.
Based on these findings, individuals seeking a work permit will likely find tremendous success by pursuing work authorization through the IMP. Mainly through pathways like “post-graduation employment” and “work permit for study purposes.” These permits are closely tied to study programs, either during or after graduation. And have seen substantial growth in numbers over the past decade. This route to a work permit can be particularly advantageous as it often leads to immigrant success in the labor market. Offering opportunities to enhance language skills, establish connections, and earn a Canadian educational credential.
Most Successful Work Permit Programs for Employment in Canada
The available data provides a detailed breakdown of successful foreign workers. Those, who reported their income in Canada, categorized by work permit program, age, and work permit duration.
Within the work permit streams under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), agriculture programs boasted the highest rate of reported income success among work permit holders, at an impressive 92%. This not only marked the most elevated rate within the TFWP but also outshone other categories. Including participation in the International Mobility Program (IMP). These results align with the nature of TFWP work permits. Which are typically tied to job offers, as employers must apply for a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
Among IMP work permit streams, the second-highest participation rate, following TFWP agriculture streams, was achieved by post-graduation employment work permit holders at 76%. Intra-company transferees followed this at 66%, and International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit holders at 62%.
When considering age groups, individuals between the ages of 25-34 exhibited the highest rate of labor market participation, with 68% of work permit holders reporting positive incomes. Permit holders aged 35-44 closely followed, achieving a 67% participation rate.
Finally, regarding work permit duration, those holding permits valid for at least 10-12 months demonstrated the highest labor market participation rate, with 74% reporting positive incomes. Following closely were those with permits valid for 7-9 months, with a participation rate of 67%. This data revealed a consistent positive correlation between the length of work permits and participation rates.
The Optimal Route?
Considering these insights, it’s evident that the International Mobility Program (IMP), particularly in work permits related to or following study programs, is gaining importance. This group demonstrates the highest average labor market participation, except for specialized streams like the Temporary Foreign Worker Program’s (TFWP) agriculture streams. This raises the question: Is pursuing study opportunities in Canada before seeking employment the most effective path to securing a work permit, excelling in the labor market, and ultimately obtaining permanent residency (PR)?
While Statistics Canada data supports this notion, the best approach to a work permit and subsequent PR varies depending on each applicant’s unique circumstances and characteristics, especially when considering international tuition fees.
Additionally, the studies above have limitations, including a slow and outdated method of tallying current work permit holders that may not accurately reflect the actual number of permit holders in Canada. There is also a lack of distinction between permit holders actively seeking employment and those who are not, and the inability to include self-employed individuals in immigration analysis, which reduces overall labor market participation within the studied group.