The TFWP (Temporary Foreign Worker Program) stream allows employers to hire foreign nationals to fill temporary labor and skill shortages in the country. The IMP (International Mobility Program) stream is a program that allows employers to hire foreign nationals without a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This program is designed to facilitate the entry of foreign workers who are expected to bring economic and cultural benefits to Canada.
Both the TFWP and the IMP issue work permits to temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to work and live in Canada. However, there are important differences between both pathways that should be noted.
The TFWP allows Canadian employers to issue work permits to TFWs, as a means of responding to genuine labour shortages in Canada. The biggest difference between the TFWP and the IMP is the need for an Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), a government document used to assess the impact of hiring a foreign national on the Canadian labour market. LMIAs are needed in order to issue a work permit under the TFWP. With an LMIA, work permits issued under the TFWP are generally “employer-specific/LMIA-based”, as opposed to the open work permits issued under the IMP.
In contrast, the IMP exists to promote Canada’s broad economic, social and cultural policy objectives. Work permits under the IMP are usually issued with consideration to reciprocity (between the applicant’s country and Canada) or the significant cultural or economic benefit that comes with hiring a TFW. Consequently, the IMP contains programs like the Global Talent Stream, International Experience Canada, and the Significant Benefit work permit program (among others).
As mentioned, because the IMP’s scope is broader than the TFWP, the Canadian government does not employ an LMIA system when issuing work permits under the IMP; usually providing applicants with open work permits. Open work permits allow holders to work in most industries and for most employers, whereas employer-specific permits issued under the TFWP are usually tied to work with that specific employer, and in that industry.