A recent poll indicated that Canada is second only to the USA as the country most people in the world would like to live in, if they could. Opportunity was listed as the main reason for the draw.  Interestingly more and more Americans are now looking to come to Canada as the American economy worsens and unemployment continues to rise south of the border. In fact, after Filipinos, Americans are the second largest group of temporary workers in Canada.
As Immigration Canada has tightened up many of their residency programs, the option of coming to Canada on a skilled work permit is the option that many would-be immigrants are considering.
In order to get a temporary skilled work permit the applicant usually must have a job offer first. This job offer needs to go through the process of being issued with a Labour Market Opinion (LMO), whereby the employer needs to demonstrate to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) that they have attempted to recruit a Canadian for the position but have been unable to do so. After all, Canadians looking for work need to be given priority over foreigners. Americans may also have the possibility of coming in under NAFTA, but must still have a job offer and meet eligibility requirements.
Rather than just filling in a form, the employer needs to explain and prove what recruitment efforts have been done to justify bringing in a foreign worker. If it is a union position then the union must also provide approval. If licensing is required then the foreign worker may need to get their Canadian licence before being able to proceed, which can hinder and delay the process. The employer also needs to demonstrate that the foreign worker will be paid according to current labour market requirements for the area in question. On top of all of this, new regulationsstipulate that if an employer is paying someone to help with the preparation and submission of LMO then that person must be an authorised lawyer, paralegal or regulated immigration consultant.
If HRSDC are satisfied that an employer has truly been unable to find a Canadian for the position then a positive LMO is issued and the foreign worker can apply for an employer-specific work permit at the relevant Canadian visa office, or even at the Port of Entry, depending on their circumstances.
The good news is that “Canada’s labour market has more than fully recovered from the loss experienced in the downturn,” said Ian Wright, chief economist at the Royal Bank of Canada. “As of August, Canada had 164,000 more people employed than during the pre-recession peak and so far this year, employment gains have been concentrated in full-time jobs.”
There is talk now of relaxing the LMO requirements as the demand for foreign workers in Canada starts to grow again. The current maximum of a one year LMO will hopefully also be extended, making it less stressful for both the employer and the employee. The employee will usually aim to submit a permanent residency application after their arrival and will usually need about 18 months for this to be finalised. Applications for permanent residency will usually be submitted in the Federal Skilled Worker category, or upon nomination from the province. Canadian Experience Class is also an option when the worker has been working in Canada in a skilled occupation for two years.
So where should the foreign worker focus their job search?
Every particular occupation has a different set of supply and demand factors. However,to look at the overall labour market, Saskatchewan leads the way in terms of economic growth, with Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador following closely behind. Manitoba is projected to improve its economic standing, while Ontario, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island fall slightly below the national average. Quebec continues to show mixed results and is positioned with the remaining Atlantic provinces at the back of the pack.

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