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Recruiting Agricultural Workers

Employer Registration

Employers recruiting TFW under the any of the four Agricultural Workers streams, must submit the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application along with all the required supporting documentation to ESDC/Service Canada.

NOTE: Provincial variations to the application process exist and in some cases certain requirements must be met before starting the application process.

If the job is located in these western Provinces:

  • Alberta – Employers must provide the Employment Agency Business License (if applicable).
  • British Columbia – Employers must provide the Employment Agency License (if applicable).
  • Manitoba – Employers must apply for a Certificate of Registration at Manitoba's Employment Standards Branch before apply for a LMIA.
  • Saskatchewan – Employers must:


Stream Choices

Reforms to the TFWP in 2014 limits employers of foreign swine workers to three stream options that include the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), Agricultural Stream (high and low skill), or the Stream for Higher skilled Occupations. Users of these streams are delegated to production sectors listed on ESDC’s “National Commodities List”. The list is extended to all participating provinces and includes animal commodity sectors of swine, bovine, dairy, duck, horse, mink, poultry sheep plus several non-animal commodities.

The "Agricultural Stream" introduced in 2012 has both lower skill-lower wage and higher skill-higher wage categories. The wages for TFW workers in the Agricultural Stream are lower to reflect current industry wage scales being paid for swine and other primary production workers in the various regions of Canada.


Program Stream Options

The following points summarize the main features for each of the four "Agricultural Workers" streams.

It is strongly recommended to consult the ESDC website to get more details and view any updates regarding these various options.


1.  Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)

  • Production must be included on the National Commodities List.
  • Work must be related to on-farm primary agriculture.
  • TFWs must be from Mexico or certain Caribbean countries.
  • Positions can be lower or higher-skilled occupations.
  • Maximum work period is 8 months between January 1 and December 15 of the same year.  Reduces interest for swine employers.
  • Must meet all housing, transportation, WCB directives.
  • Must use designated country special SAWP contracts.
  • Must use LMIA form #EMP5389.

Read more about SAWP here

2.  Agricultural Stream

  • Production must be included on the National Commodities List.
  • TFWs can be from any country. 
  • Work must be related to on-farm primary agriculture.
  • Positions can be lower or higher-skilled occupations.
  • Must use specific commodity wage for the region where job is located.
  • Only stream option for National Commodity List employers recruiting lower-skilled agricultural TFWs.
  • Must adhere to directives related to wages, housing, workplace safety, insurance, and transportation costs.
  • Must use LMIA form #EMP5519.

Read more about the Agricultural Stream here

3.  Stream for Lower Skilled Occupations

  • Production is NOT included on the National Commodity List.
  • For any lower-skilled agricultural position not associated with primary swine production (i.e. General Farm Worker, NOC 8431-C).
  • Education or formal training required for the occupation includes at most:
    • high school diploma or
    • maximum of 2 years of job-specific training
  • Must complete all recruitment, transportation, housing, workplace and other requirements where applicable.
  • Must use LMIA form #EMP5512.

Read more about the Stream for Lower-Skilled Occupations here

4.  Stream for Higher Skilled Occupations

  • Employers can hire TFWs for any higher-skilled agricultural position.
  • Depending on skill level education or formal training required for the occupation may include:
    • University, college, vocational or apprenticeship training
    •  2 or more years of on-the-job training, job specific training or related work experience.
  • For either NOC skill levels O, A or B on-farm primary agriculture workers such as farm managers/supervisors and specialized livestock workers (specifically NOC codes 8251, 8252, 8253, 8254 and 8256.
  • Most primary skilled swine workers designated under NOC 8253-B.
  • In most cases, eligible for nomination for permanent residency (PR).
  • Must advertise and pay the prevailing median wage or higher as identified on the Job Bank for the particular occupation and work location. Review precise details regarding wage requirements.
  • Many program requirements and criteria such as workplace conditions, housing, transportation mandated under other agricultural streams are not applicable for this Stream for Higher-Skilled Occupations. The ESDC website and the Comparison of Options and Criteria Table provides further details.
  • Must use LMIA form #EMP5517

Read more about the Stream for Higher-Skilled Occupations here


LMIA 10-day "Speed of Service Processing"

ESDC provides a service whereby LMIA applications may be processed within 10 business days, provided employers are hiring TFWs in positions that meet one or more of the established criteria, which include (1) highest-demand, (2) shortest duration work period, or (3) highest-paid.

NOC codes 8252-B and 8253-B (agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers) are on ESDC’s list of skills / occupations in "highest demand" and therefore eligible for the speed of service processing.

Positions must:

  1. Meet all program requirements,
  2. Be on the list of eligible occupations, and
  3. Have a prevailing wage at, or above, the provincial/territorial median wage, where the job is located.

Read who qualifies for 10-day LMIA Speed of Service here



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