Temporary Residence > Agricultural Workers

Agricultural Workers

Most foreign nationals need an open or employer-specific Work Permit to work in Canada. To work means to enter a Canadian labor market, not simply conducting international business activities for the remuneration paid from a source outside Canada. In general terms, Canadian economic and social development policy prescribes that a foreign national can be authorized to work in Canada only if the Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada are not qualified to perform the job offered.

If you want to have a job in the agricultural sphere in Canada, you must be suitable for a work permit. Also, you need to meet a number of requirements. You can work for any SAWP employer in Canada if you’re employed through the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program. This program gives employers an opportunity to take into service temporary foreign workers when Canadians and permanent residents are not vacant. Employers can hire foreign employees for an ultimate period of 8 months if they are capable of offering at least 240 hours of work within a time of 6 weeks or less to the workers.

You can meet the criteria of the program if you’re a resident of a country that is involved in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, your government recruited you, and you’ll be working for SAWP employers in Canada.

The SAWP operates due to the two-sided agreements between Canada and the participating countries. The agreements summarize the role of these foreign governments, which is to:

  • Select and recruit temporary foreign workers;
  • Make sure that they have all required documents;
  • Maintain a team of skilled workers.

These governments also guarantee that all workers that are going to work in Canada temporarily meet all the requirements of the SAWP:

  • at least 18 years of age;
  • experienced in farming;
  • a resident of one of the participating countries;
  • able to satisfy the Canadian immigration and the worker’s home country laws.

If you are interested in agricultural work in Canada and wondering how to apply, here is what you need to know. Each government has its own process of selecting and recruiting workers. Your government will ensure that you are eligible for the program and have all required documents.

You have an opportunity to work for different employers in Canada. And for that, you don’t need a new work permit for each employer. But you need to be aware that you can’t be pressured or asked to work for another employer without your approval. For this type of job, you will need an employer-specific work permit. This means that you can only work for the employer that is on your work permit.

Before submitting your application

Your Canadian employer must get a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). That is a document from Service Canada that allows an employer to hire a foreign worker through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Your employer must give you a copy of the positive LMIA, and your job offer letter or contract.

  • Get the papers and forms you need to apply for a work permit.
  • You can only work for one employer at a time.
  • If you plan to work for other employers that are not on your work permit, you have to apply for a new work permit.
  • You can’t work for a different employer until you obtain your new work permit(s).

If you want to apply for a new permit(s), follow these steps:

  • Get all the application documents.
  • Complete a separate request for each new employer.
  • Send all of your applications and supporting documents in the same envelope.

Participating countries

The SAWP applies only to temporary foreign workers who are citizens from:

  • Mexico
  • Caribbean countries of:
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Barbados
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • Montserrat
  • Kitts-Nevis
  • Lucia
  • Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago

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April 2019