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Are you one of the millions of Filipinos whose ultimate dream is to work–and eventually settle–in Canada?
If you are, please don’t feel bad about it. It’s a common knowledge that our country is plagued with too much politics while very few job opportunities are left for those who really do the hard work.
Canada, for most immigrants, is the land of milk and honey. And it’s never wrong to ensure a good future for you and your family.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how to get a job in Canada from the Philippines plus tips and tricks to help you get one step closer to your Canadian dream.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- Filipinos in Canada: An Overview.
- Why work in Canada?
- How to Work in Canada: A Step-by-Step Guide for Filipinos.
- 1. Know your options and eligibility.
- 2. Search for a job.
- 3. Wait for the documentary requirements to arrive.
- 4. Apply for a work permit.
- 5. Prepare to become an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW).
- 6. Arrive in Canada.
Filipinos in Canada: An Overview.
Since the 1930s, many Filipinos have decided to call Canada their home.
As of April 2018, there are a total of 901,218 Filipinos in Canada (or 2.6% of Canada’s national population) who came to the country as temporary foreign workers (TFWs), permanent residents, or naturalized Canadians.
The statistics show significant growth as it was only 2 years earlier when the census reported 837,130 people identifying themselves as having Filipino ethnic origin (see image below).
Today, the Philippines continues to be a leading source of immigrants to Canada, followed by India, China, and Iran.
Most Filipinos initially work in Canada as temporary foreign workers, and then apply for a permanent resident status once they get the opportunity.
As a Canadian citizen/permanent resident, you have plenty of privileges under your belt. These include the ability to sponsor your family members–including your parents and grandparents–for Canadian immigration.
Not only are you helping to improve your social status by working in Canada but also indirectly saving the Philippine economy. In fact, in 2017 alone, remittances from Filipinos in Canada increased by 12.6% (from USD 572,820,000 in 2016 to USD 644,754,000 in 2017).
Why work in Canada?
Canada has consistently ranked among the best countries in the world for immigrants because of its outstanding healthcare system, spectacular natural beauty, stable economy, plenty of job opportunities, and overall great quality of life.
The country is also ideal for Filipinos who prefer to study before finding a job. Unlike its neighboring country the US, Canada allows its students to work 20 hours a week either on or off campus.
In addition to that, you can also bring your spouse with you and let him/her work full-time for the duration of your studies, something that international students in the US with F-2 status aren’t allowed to do.
Most importantly, working in Canada as a temporary foreign worker gives you the once-in-a-lifetime chance to upgrade to permanent resident status.
Aside from living in a country that truly values your hard work, you’ll also gain Canadian citizenship with a passport that can take you anywhere in the world without applying for a visa.
Related Article: How to Get Philippine Passport: An Ultimate Guide
How to Work in Canada: A Step-by-Step Guide for Filipinos.
1. Know your options and eligibility.
Two things may hamper you from finding a job in Canada: It’s either you (1) don’t have the necessary qualifications, skills, and employment background or you are (2) “inadmissible,” meaning you are not allowed to come to Canada under Canada’s immigration law.
If you don’t fall in the second category, you may have the chance to work in Canada assuming that you have the right skills to do so.
Canada offers different programs for immigrants, and it will be up to you if you prefer to be a permanent resident upon arrival in Canada or be employed as a temporary foreign worker.
a. Express Entry.
If you want to work and move to Canada permanently, you must be a skilled worker qualified in one of the three Express Entry programs:
- Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program which requires Filipino applicants to have the education, language ability, and skilled work experience in any of Canada’s 300+ eligible occupations. This is a point-based system so once you make it into the Express Entry pool, you’ll be ranked according to the number of points you earn. The highest-ranking applicants are usually invited to apply for permanent residence.
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), launched in January 2013, puts more value on one’s practical training than formal education. To qualify for FSTP, the applicant must have at least 2 years of work experience within the last 5 years in one of the eligible skilled trades.
- Canadian Experience Class is for those who already have skilled work experience in Canada.
In addition to the three Express Entry programs above, you may also be picked through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), which is for people who have the qualifications and have been nominated by a specific Canadian province/territory to immigrate to Canada.
To find out if you’re eligible in any of the three Express Entry programs above, you can fill out this form.
Based on your answers, the system will determine if you’re qualified for any of the programs and what you need to do next in case you are. You will also be added in the pool of candidates for immigration and possibly get an invitation to immigrate.
Now here’s a caveat: If you apply for any of the above-mentioned programs, it may take ages before your application can be approved–especially if you have no qualifying job offer.
This is when the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program comes to the picture.
b. Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program.
Under this program, Filipinos are hired by employers who are able to prove that there’s a shortage of people in Canada with the skills and experience they’re looking for.
Hard-working Filipinos consider the TFW program as a stepping stone to becoming a Canadian citizen. This is because after gaining enough experience, they become eligible to apply for permanent resident status through the Canadian Experience Class.
2. Search for a job.
At this point, you’ve probably decided which path to getting a job in Canada is the best fit for you. Of course, the next step would be finding an employer who is willing to hire you.
If you’re eligible for the Express Entry programs and you want to become a permanent resident in the shortest amount of time, I encourage you to apply at the Job Bank.
The Job Bank is Canada’s official job site which matches Express Entry candidates with the eligible employers. Express Entry candidates with job offers earn higher points, not to mention the convenience of arriving in Canada with a job already waiting for you.
For Filipino caregivers and blue-collar workers who want to go to Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, you can find jobs at recruitment agencies accredited by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
In fact, a 2018 notice from the website of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Vancouver reveals that the direct hiring of Filipinos has been put on hold and only those that have been hired by the members of the diplomatic corps, international organizations, or high-ranking government officials are exempted from this ban.
As a result, the only way to get a job in Canada is through a POEA-accredited recruitment agency.
To find out which agencies in the Philippines have a valid license, go to this link and click “All Agencies With Valid License.”
Take note that the license has a validity period of 4 years. The list of recruitment agencies with a valid license may change without prior notice so make sure to check this link before you apply to any job opening.
For the latest job vacancies in Canada, go to this link and choose Canada from the “Select Country” drop-down menu. You can sort the results by agency, position, or the date the job order was approved.
Click Submit to show the updated list of Canada job orders available for Filipinos.
Some of the in-demand jobs in Canada that recruitment agencies in the Philippines are offering include, but not limited to, the following:
- Food Service Supervisor
- Fast Food Restaurant Staff/Manager
- Apiary Worker
- Sawmill Operator
- Farm Worker
The list above only shows some of the active job orders at the time I was writing this article. POEA doesn’t guarantee if the job orders are still active or not so make sure to verify the job’s availability with the agency.
After ensuring that the recruitment agency has a valid license, reach out to them via their website or Facebook page. Otherwise, call them and let them confirm if the job order is still available before you personally submit your application.
In case you encounter illegal recruiters, you may report it to POEA through the following:
POEA Hotline: 722-11-44/722-11-55
Email address: email@example.com
Office address: Blas F. Ople Building, Ortigas Ave. corner EDSA, Mandaluyong City
3. Wait for the documentary requirements to arrive.
After finding a prospective employer who is willing to hire you, all you need to do is wait for the necessary documents to arrive.
In Canada, employers who were not able to find any Canadian available for the position they offer are required to apply for a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
A positive LMIA means there’s no Canadian available to do the job and there’s a need for a foreign worker (in this case, a Filipino) to fill the job vacancy. A positive LMIA is also called a confirmation letter.
Once the employer receives a positive result, he/she will send you the LMIA along with the job offer and contract.
As for the job offer, make sure to review specific details as soon as you receive the document. Important sections that you need to review include Salary and Benefits, Job Description, and Working Hours.
Never accept a job offer from someone who is asking you for money or your credit card information.
After receiving the required documents from your employer, you can now apply for a work permit (and temporary resident visa, if required).
Did you know? Not all employers are required to obtain LMIA. To verify if your job offer needs LMIA, check this link for the Labor Market Impact Assessment exemption codes. In case you’re exempted from the LMIA application, note the exemption code that applies to you and include it in your job offer.
4. Apply for a work permit.
Now that you already have the LMIA and the job offer from your employer, you can now apply for your work permit at designated visa application centers.
To apply for a work permit, you will need all of the following:
- Job Offer Letter
- Copy of the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
- LMIA Number
Take note that not all jobs require a work permit. For a complete list of jobs that don’t need a work permit, please refer to this link. In case you don’t need such permit, you are still required by law to apply for a visa before going to Canada.
There are two types of work permit in Canada:
- Employer-specific work permit which prohibits you from working for other employers except for the one who initially hired you. This states the name of the specific employer you will work for in Canada, how long you’ll work, and the location/place where you’ll be employed.
- Open-work permit, as its name suggests, allows you to openly work for any employer in Canada. However, open-work permit is only given to a limited number of candidates. Check out this list to know if you’re eligible to get this type of work permit.
Not sure which type of work permit you’re qualified for? Answer the questions on this page to find out.
Take note that you can’t use a work permit to immigrate to Canada. It will only give you the right to stay in Canada temporarily as you fulfill your contractual obligations.
If you want to work in Canada as a permanent resident, check if you qualify as a skilled worker under the Express Entry programs (see step 1).
How to Apply for a Work Permit for Canada in the Philippines.
a. Submit your application.
You have the choice to apply either on paper or online.
However, online application is recommended not only because it’s quicker and cheaper (no need to pay for courier fees), but it also ensures that you can submit additional documents quickly should they request for them.
In addition to that, you can get real-time updates on the status of your application through your online account. To start applying for a work permit, go to this link.
b. Provide your fingerprints and photo (biometrics).
After submitting your application and paying the required biometrics fee, you’ll receive an instruction letter with details on how and where to give your biometrics (fingerprints and photo).
You only have up to 30 days to give your biometrics in person at designated application centers in the Philippines.
As of this writing, there is a Canada visa application center (CVAC) in Manila and another one in Cebu where Filipino workers bound to Canada can provide their biometrics. You can visit this website for more info.
c. Undergo a medical exam.
Once they’ve confirmed that the documents you’ve submitted are complete, you may be asked to go to an interview with Canada’s representative in the Philippines.
For some candidates, a medical exam is required. In case you’re one of those who need to go through a medical examination, you’ll be instructed by the representative who’ll interview you about where and how the medical exam will take place.
d. Wait for the approval letter.
If your application is approved, you’ll receive a letter that says you can work in Canada within the time frame specified in your contract.
Remember, this letter is not your work permit. Bring this letter when you travel to Canada. The work permit is only issued to Filipino workers upon arrival in Canada.
5. Prepare to become an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW).
Now that you have the work permit, the only thing standing between you and your dream job in Canada is the Philippine government.
As a soon-to-be overseas Filipino worker (OFW), you’re required to undergo the Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS). This free service is offered by the POEA to teach aspiring OFWs about overseas job application procedures, the documents/costs involved, as well as ways to prevent illegal recruitment.
All Filipino workers bound to Canada are also required to apply for an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) which is a document you show to the Philippine immigrant officials on your departure date so they can allow you to leave.
6. Arrive in Canada.
When you arrive in Canada, don’t expect the border services officer (BSO) to give you the work permit right away.
You’ll go through a meticulous screening procedure to help them ensure that you’re the same person who has been approved to work in Canada.
After the initial identity check (during which your fingerprints are checked and compared against their records), you’ll be asked to present the following entry requirements:
- Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction.
- Your passport.
- Your visa (if applicable).
- Travel documents like airline tickets, etc.
- Supporting documents such as a copy of your employer’s positive LMIA (if requested), proof of work experience/education, or offer of employment number (which your employer received after submitting the offer of employment through the Employer Portal). The offer of employment number is applicable only to those who are exempted from submitting LMIA and arriving in Canada to work for a specific employer.
Related Article: How to Renew Philippine Passport in Canada: An Ultimate Guide
As soon as the BSO confirms that you can enter Canada, they will now print your actual work permit. The BSO will also stamp on your passport and inform you how long you can stay in Canada.
Make sure you give honest answers when interviewed by the BSO. Filipino workers under the TFW program may be denied entry if they’re unable to prove to the BSO with their answers and documents that they’re going to leave Canada at the end of their approved stay.