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Canadian Immigration Imposes New Regulations for LMIA-Exempt Foreign Worker Program

CIC applies new procedure for LMIA-exempt temporary foreign workers

Canadian immigration has added new requirements for the employment of foreign workers who are exempt from Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). As of February 21, 2015, any Canadian employers who wish to hire LMIA-exempt foreign workers must now pay Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) a fee and provide information about their business.

These new requirements are a part of recent reforms to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations that are meant to improve the International Mobility Program (IMP) by increasing employers’ accountability. The changes significantly alter the process of securing work permits for skilled foreign nationals under the IMP. Among those affected are foreign workers covered by international agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and participants in exchange programs such as the International Experience Class.

What this means for LMIA-exempt foreign workers and their employers

If the required fee and information have not been submitted prior to the work permit application, then a foreign national cannot secure an employer-specific work permit, even if they are exempt from LMIA procedures.

LMIA-exempt foreign workers have previously been allowed to obtain work permits at the border if they present evidence of their training or educational credentials, along with information about the work that they are coming to Canada to perform. Now, however, Canadian employers must obtain official pre-approval from the government before a work permit will be issued.

To acquire pre-approval, employers must submit the following information to CIC online:

  • their business’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and fax number if available,
  • if applicable, the business number that the Minister of National Revenue assigned to them,
  • details about the nature of the job offered to the foreign worker, and
  • evidence of the offer of employment via the official form supplied by CIC.

The offer of employment must be submitted via CIC’s electronic system. The required fee is either CAD $230 or CAD $100, depending on the type of work permit. The new regulations are meant to subject all Canadian employers of foreign labour to the same levels of scrutiny in their hiring and treatment of workers, regardless of whether or not they are exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment. If employers fail to comply with the new rules, they risk being penalized financially, banned from hiring foreign labour, and, in extreme cases, criminally investigated and prosecuted by Canadian immigration authorities.

Additional Canadian immigration rules

A CAD $230 employer compliance fee, payable online, is required for employers of LMIA-exempt foreign labourers who do not hold open work permits, such as transferees within a company and workers exempted through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or other such arrangements. Generated revenues from these fees will help fund procedures related to employer compliance, such as inspections.

Foreign labourers with open work permits pay a CAD $100-fee online at the same time as the fee to process their work permit. The fee may be paid whenever an individual applies for or renews an open work permit. These contributions will help improve the collection of data about the function open work permit holders perform in Canada, in addition to increasing the promotion of permanent residency for open work permit holders. As long as their permit is valid, open work permit holders may switch employers without applying for a new permit.

Responses to the new Canadian immigration changes

Some Canadian employers are concerned that the new regulations create obstacles for Canadian businesses that wish to hire temporary foreign labour, especially in the wake of recent reforms to the temporary foreign worker program. If you are a Canadian employer seeking to hire foreign workers, or a foreign national seeking to work in Canada, contact First Immigration Law Firm toll-free in North America at 1-855-360-4333.