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International Mobility Program: New Regulations Require Employer Compliance Filings Prior to Work Permit Application

‘This sudden shift in law and policy is a shock to employers, foreign workers and their counsel. It will effectively result in the refusal of hundreds, and possibly thousands of work permits at visa offices, ports of entry and inland applications and renewals, for those unprepared for this substantive change in Canadian law.’ – Jacqueline Bart

This week, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) unveiled a new employer compliance form under the International Mobility Program. Based on the new regulations, employers are now required to file employment confirmation information prior to filing a foreign worker work permit application. This requirement comes into force on February 21, 2015, however the format and policy was issued to the public on February 18, 2015.

As of February 21, 2015, applying for a work permit requires a two-step application process:

  • An employer immigration compliance filing in Canada; and
  • The employee work permit application, supported by the employer’s in-Canada application filing.

This new procedure applies to Labor Market Impact Assessment Exempt (LMIAE) work permits. These include intra-company transfers, trade agreement work permits (such as NAFTA, GATS and Canada’s free trade agreements with Peru, Columbia, Chile and South Korea) reciprocal agreements, spousal work permits, open work permits, significant benefit exemptions, provincial/territorial agreements, and others.

This new employer work permit compliance filing process will require employers to provide employment information directly to CIC when hiring foreign nationals under the International Mobility Program. The information provided by employers will form the basis of future compliance assessments when employers are inspected.

Specifically, employers will be required to provide the following information:

  • Name, address, contact information;
  • Business number (if applicable);
  • Relevant employment information;
  • Information supporting use of the LMIA-exemption;
  • Offer of employment using the form made available by CIC; and
  • $230 fee payable by employers for each LMIA-exempt employer-specific work permit application, including renewals, unless exempt by policy.

The $230 fee and employment information must be submitted by the employer before a foreign national makes an application for a work permit. If employers do not meet the above requirements when hiring foreign nationals under employer-specific LMIA-exemptions, officers will refuse the work permit application by the foreign national.

Aside from the government revenue generation of this new program, it is designed to ensure that the government receives information directly from the employer regarding the employment position. This will enable the government to verify compliance with the International Mobility Program regulatory requirements. The Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement from the government indicates that the information will be utilized for government employer compliance processes. The government seeks to bolster their enforcement authority in employer compliance inspections. These regulations will enhance CIC’s legislative authority to inspect employers. The government will conduct on-site inspections without a warrant.

At employer on-site inspections, CIC will require employers to provide documents that demonstrate compliance with the job offer, including payroll and taxation documentation, time sheets, foreign worker activities and responsibilities, location of employment and other types of government and non-government documentation. CIC may also interview foreign workers or Canadian employees to determine employer compliance.

The regulatory penalties for employer non-compliance with immigration filings can include jail terms and fines for the officers and directors of the employer.

BartLAW News

Jacqueline Bart is the ‘outright’ winner and recipient of the Finance Monthly Law Award 2015 for “Immigration Lawyer of the Year-Canada”.

Jacqueline Bart and Carrie Wright co-authored the Canadian chapter of the International Corporate Legal Guide for Corporate Immigration 2014, an international publication designed for corporate counsel.

Jacqueline Bart will present on “Canadian Immigration Technology Strategies for Employer Immigration Compliance” at the February 2015 American Immigration Lawyers Association-Global Migration Section Member Tele-Conference.

BartLAW welcomes Jae-Yeon Lim, Junior Immigration Associate and Tabitha Holland, Immigration Consultant, to our growing team of professionals.

Jae-Yeon has a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Bachelor of Laws (Common Law) from McGill University and possesses over 3 year of experience in corporate and immigration law. She is fluent in English, French and Korean and is a member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Immigration Law Section. Jae-Yeon serves BartLAW’s employer and corporate clients by enabling the transfer of their staff to Canada. She also represents foreign workers and advises on citizenship law. Jae-Yeon’s creative pursuit is jewelry-making.

Tabitha is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council. She is also a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants and possesses over 15 years of experience exclusively in Canadian citizenship and immigration law. Tabitha’s main areas of practice at BartLAW are permanent residence applications (Federal and Provincial) and all economic immigration categories, in addition to citizenship and permanent residence renewal and status applications. In spare to time, Tabitha enjoys gourmet cooking.