Register to hire temporary foreign workers
Employers can hire foreign workers to fill temporary labour and skill shortages. In British Columbia, temporary foreign workers are protected by law from unfair employers and practices.
On this page:
- Employers must follow these steps
- Follow the rules for employers
- Contact the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Unit
Apply for a certificate of registration
Employers who hire temporary foreign workers in B.C. are required by law to register with the provincial government.
You need to register if you intend to hire a temporary worker through most federal foreign worker programs:
- Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)
- Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program (SAWP)
- Home Child Care Provider or Home Support Worker pilots
- Other programs that require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
Hiring a domestic worker
If you're an individual hiring a domestic worker, you need to register the worker with the Employment Standards Branch within 30 days of hiring them.
Who does not need to register?
You do not need to register if you're an excluded employer or you
- Currently employ foreign workers and do not plan to hire additional workers
- Only hire foreign workers under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) or federal International Mobility Program (IMP)
If you're unsure, contact the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Unit.
Become a registered employer
If approved, employers are issued a certificate of registration valid for up to three years. The Director of Employment Standards has discretion over the period of time a certificate of registration remains valid.
Employers must renew their certificate of registration before it expires. If you hire additional temporary foreign workers after your certificate expires, we may not renew your certificate. It's against the law to hire a foreign worker with an expired certificate of registration.
If your application is not approved
We'll notify you in advance of the decision. After the decision is served, you have 30 calendar days to submit a request for reconsideration.
Applications can be refused if you
- Provide incomplete, false, misleading or inaccurate information
- Have not followed provincial or federal laws
- Do not carry out business legally, honestly, with integrity or in the interest of the public
Search for a registered employer
The B.C. government keeps a public registry of employers that are registered to hire foreign workers. The registry lists each employer's name, the date they were registered as an employer and when their registration expires.
Apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment
Most employers need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from the federal government before they can hire a temporary foreign worker. An LMIA confirms that a temporary foreign worker is needed. The process also makes sure that no Canadians or permanent residents are available to do the job.
You need a certificate of registration before you can get an LMIA.
Hire a temporary foreign worker
Employers who hire foreign workers in B.C. agree to uphold their obligations required by law.
An employer’s certificate of registration may be cancelled or suspended if they do not follow the law or if they act in a manner that is dishonest or unfair.
Foreign worker recruiters must be licensed. Employers can be fined or have their registration cancelled or suspended for using a recruiter who is not licensed in B.C.
If you hire foreign workers in B.C., the law requires that you
- Follow employment standards
- Meet WorkSafeBC requirements
- Provide information to foreign workers about their rights
You also need to:
Employers have obligations under the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act. They cannot:
Keep a foreign worker's money or documents
This means employers must not
- Directly or indirectly charge any person other than an employer a fee or expense for recruitment services
- Reduce the wages of a foreign worker, or vary, reduce or eliminate any other benefit or term or condition of a foreign worker's employment, in order to recover the expense of recruiting the foreign worker
- Take a foreign worker’s passport or official documents
Threaten action without a legal basis
It's against the law for employers to threaten deportation or other action without a lawful cause.
Employers cannot take action against or threaten to take action against a person for participating in an investigation or proceeding by any government or law enforcement agency or for making a complaint or inquiry to any government or law enforcement agency.
Provide false or misleading information
Employers must not
- Produce or distribute false or misleading information relating to recruitment services, immigration, immigration services, employment, housing for foreign workers or the laws of British Columbia or Canada
- Misrepresent employment opportunities, including respecting a position, duties, length of employment, wages and benefits or other terms of employment
Employers must have a written contract with each temporary foreign worker. If a recruiter was used to hire the worker, keep a copy of the recruiter's contract as well.
Records must be kept in B.C. for at least four years. They must be made available for inspection upon request.
Employers must keep all records related to recruiting and hiring temporary foreign workers:
- Signed contracts
- Fees and expenses related to recruitment and hiring
- The name, address and work location of each worker
- Approval from the federal government to recruit and hire temporary foreign workers
- All payroll records
Ask a question or get confidential support about temporary foreign workers in B.C.
By phone or text
Get help in the language of your choice. Service is available Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 5 pm Pacific Time.
Outside of Canada or the U.S.A.: 1-604-660-2421
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