Canada’s Agricultural sector
Agriculture continues to be an integral part of Canada’s economy in 2021, even as the attention shifts to more advanced, technical sectors. The entire agriculture and agri-food complex employed 2.1 million people, or one in nine Canadian jobs and generated over $134.9 billion or 6.8% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The physical nature of Farm work and the modern shift towards sedentary occupations has meant a decline in its overall popularity among urban Canadians. As reported by Statistics Canada, the agriculture sector and allied activities, including forestry, fishing, and hunting, had 16,480 job vacancies in the third quarter of 2022.
To remedy this, the Canadian government has programs to attract talented farmers and investments in this sector. Qualified foreign farm workers today can work in Canada with the help of the Express Entry streams, the Provincial Nominee programs and the Temporary Foreign worker program.
Can I get a visa sponsorship for a farm worker job?
Canadian employers can help you obtain a work permit under the Temporary Foreign worker program if there are no candidates available in Canada. Such an employer will have to pay for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), proving there are no Canadians available for the same position.
You should confirm if your employer will undertake these on your behalf when applying for farm worker jobs in forums and job sites.
Sponsorships for permanent residency in Canada are strictly restricted to family reunification programs where Canadian citizens and permanent residents sponsor their family members.
How to find work in Canada as a farm worker?
As a Farmworker, you have several routes to find work in Canada.
If you’re a highly skilled worker, you can try the Federal Express Entry program for skilled workers with work experience. You can find the list of all eligible agricultural occupations in the IRCC portal.
Another option is the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and the dedicated agricultural streams operating under it- like the Alberta Farm Stream. These programs allow Canadian provinces to handpick select candidates, including qualified agricultural entrepreneurs, for PR nominations.
A temporary but more accessible route is the Temporary Foreign Worker program with its Agricultural Stream and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), which allows Canadian employers to bring over foreign workers in the absence of any Canadian to fill the position.
Permanent residency through farm jobs in Canada
Immigrating through the Express Entry program is highly competitive and based on merit. A qualified candidate must be a skilled worker and score well in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to be picked from a pool of other candidates.
The score takes into account factors like an applicant’s age, language skills, education level, qualifications and work experience, among other things.
The Provincial Nominee Program
Interested farm workers for highly skilled positions can also try their luck with the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). The program helps provinces address the needs of their community in many sectors, including agriculture.
An example of such a stream is the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program’s (AAIP) Farm stream which caters to foreign entrepreneurs with the financial resources and farm management experience to establish or take over an existing farm in Alberta.
The Agri-food pilot helps eligible foreign workers in agriculture-related industries become permanent residents. The eligible industries under this program are:
- meat product manufacturing (NAICS 3116)
- greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production (NAICS 1114)
- animal production
- cattle ranching and farming (NAICS 1121)
- hog and pig farming (NAICS 1122)
- poultry and egg production (NAICS 1123)
- sheep and goat farming (NAICS 1124)
- other animal production (NAICS 1129)
To be eligible under this program, the applicant must:
- Have one year of full-time work experience in an eligible industry as a non-seasonal hire.
- Have a valid job offer for a full-time position in Canada
- Meet the minimum Level 4 Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)
- Have a Canadian high school diploma or a foreign equivalent
- Have the financial resources to support themselves and settle in Canada
Candidates who fulfil all the stated requirements can apply online at the IRCC portal.
Farm jobs in Canada for a Temporary Foreign worker
The Agricultural stream under the Temporary Foreign worker program allows Canadian farms to supplement their workforce with foreign workers. Canadian employers hiring under this program must advertise the position adequately and apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The employer also has other compulsions like covering the round-trip transportation costs and providing adequate housing and insurance where legally required.
Upon receiving a positive LMIA, the employer will send this letter along with the contract to the temporary foreign worker who can apply for a work permit with the IRCC.
Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)- limited to Mexico Caribean
The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program is an arrangement between Canada and participating countries in the Caribbean and Mexico that allows Canadian employers to hire seasonal workers from these countries. A complete list of the participants is as follows:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- St. Kitts-Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Your Canadian employer will also be required to obtain a positive LMIA before you can make your application for a work permit. The work permits issued under this program are employer-specific, meaning you can only work for a specific employer and location.
The article should give you a brief idea of jobs for farm workers in Canada, how sponsorships work and where and how you can qualify under various agricultural immigration streams. There’s always an opportunity if you have specialized farming skills and experience to back it up. Financial resources and business acumen can also tip the scales in your favour if you’re moving as an entrepreneur.