Changes to Strength Accountability Under the International Mobility Program

Beginning February 21st, 2015, Canadian employers hiring foreign nationals exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process will be submitted to stricter requirements. The LMIA process ensures that there are no Canadians available to take on the job being offered to the foreign national.

The International Mobility Program (IMP) encompasses all kinds of work permit applications exempt from the LMIA process into one category. Exemption from the LMIA process can result from various programs that benefit Canada. Examples include:

  • Workers covered under international agreements, like NAFTA
  • Dependents of Foreign Workers holding a Canadian work permit for a skilled position
  • Provincial Nominees
  • Intra-company Transferees
  • Participants in the Working Holiday Visa program
  • PhD students pursuing a post-doctoral fellowship at a Canadian university
  • Co-op students
  • Religious workers
  • Spouses and common-law partners in full-time foreign students

Employers of these individuals will be asked to provide information regarding their business or organization, and to pay Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) a fee. As of February 21st, LMIA-exempt individuals will no longer be able to acquire work permits specific to their employers without paying the amended fee. However, the fee is different depending on if the work permit is employer-specific or open.

Regulatory charge – LMIA-exempt, employer-specific work permits in Canada:

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, with regards to information about the business, foreign nationals must provide their employer with an Offer of Employment form. What this means is that every employer, regardless of if they hire an LMIA-exempt individual or temporary workers through the LMIA process, will be subject to the same conditions with regards to the hiring and treatment of foreign workers. Employers hiring employer-specific LMIA-exempt foreign workers will be charged a fee of $230.00 (per hired employee). This fee is to offset the cost to the government of implementing employer compliance activities in LMIA-exempt situations. The benefit of this cost will depend on the volumes of work permits issued, however it is estimated that the $230.00 employer-specific work permit fee will apply to an average of 102, 846 work permit holders annually over the 10-year period, excluding the first partial year of implementation.

Privilege fee – LMIA-exempt, open work permit extensions in Canada:

A privilege fee of $100.00 on LMIA-exempt open work permit-holders has been introduced for the rights and privileges conferred through the work permit: the ability to enter and work in Canada without being linked to a specific employer and, in some circumstances, to transition to permanent residence through applicable programs. The benefit of the total privilege fees paid by open work permit-holders within Canada’s geographic boundaries would amount to an average of $6.4 million per year during each full year of operation. Over the 10-year period following implementation of the privilege fee, this amounts to $47.1 million in total.

These upcoming changes will render foreign national employers more accountable to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, as well as to their respective employees. Although these costs will have fantastic benefits for the Canadian federal government, the heightened monetary value does mean that it may become more difficult to obtain these permits. It is important to remember that these fees are now in effect if you were planning on applying for a permit, either as an employer or an employee. Take note that if you have previously applied for an LMIA-exempt work permit and wish to apply again or to renew a permit of this sort, these fees will be in effect.

These costs will also bring benefits to foreign workers. Employer-specific work permit-holders will benefit from the IRPA temporary worker scheme, which essentially ensures that the wages and working conditions promised in the job offer are provided and that employers maintain a workplace free from abuse.

Open work permit-holders will also benefit from the IRPA temporary worker scheme, most notably by having the privilege of working in Canada without being linked to a specific employer. With this privilege also brings about the ability to potentially becoming a Canadian Permanent Resident.

You can find information regarding the LMIA application process as well as open work permits here.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration, follow FWCanada on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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