The number of temporary foreign workers in Canada increased considerably from the early 1990s. Temporary foreign workers over this period also became an increasingly important source of permanent residents admitted to Canada. Using the Temporary Residents file and the Immigrant Landing File, this article documents the changes in the levels and types of new temporary foreign workers who arrived in Canada from 1990 to 2014. It further examines the patterns of transition from temporary foreign workers to permanent residents, and the immigration classes through which temporary foreign workers obtained permanent residence.
The new entries of temporary foreign workers doubled from the early 1990s to the late 2000s, and most of this increase occurred in the late 2000s. Temporary foreign workers came to Canada through either the International Mobility Program (IMP) or the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). Over the 1990s and 2000s, workers in the IMP outnumbered those in the TFWP , although the share of the TFWP increased rapidly, from 29% in the late 1990s to 41% in the late 2000s. In terms of skill levels, the share of higher-skilled temporary workers declined from 67% in the late 1990s to 40% in the late 2000s, even though their absolute numbers increased. Meanwhile, the share of temporary foreign workers whose skill levels were not specified increased.
From the late 1990s to the late 2000s, proportionately more temporary foreign workers gained permanent residence. Within five years after receiving their first work permits, about 9% of temporary foreign workers who arrived between 1995 and 1999 became permanent residents. The level increased to 13% for the 2000-to-2004 arrivals, and it rose further to 21% for the 2005-to-2009 arrivals.
The rate of transition to permanent residence was strongly associated with program types. The Live-in Caregiver Program and the Spouse or Common-law Partner category had the highest transition rates, while the transition rates for the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and for the Reciprocal Employment category were far below the average.
Although higher-skilled temporary foreign workers had more pathways to become permanent residents, the transition rate was not much higher than that of lower-skilled workers when differences in program types and sociodemographic characteristics were taken into account. Furthermore, temporary foreign workers from less economically developed countries tended to have higher transition rates than their counterparts from developed countries.
The immigration classes through which temporary foreign workers obtained permanent residence varied considerably by program type. Those in the Low-Skill Pilot program were more likely to be processed through the Provincial Nominee Program, while higher-skilled temporary foreign workers were more likely to be processed through other economic classes. Workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and in the Reciprocal Employment category were more likely to make the transition through the Family Class after they left Canada.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Transition from Temporary Foreign Workers to Permanent Residents, 1990 to 2014