LMIA-Exempt Work Permits: New Fees and New Scrutiny
Welder [Public Domain]
Under the International Mobility Program, the Canadian authorities group foreign workers who are exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment, or LMIA. We previously covered LMIAs and LMIA-exempt jobs in an earlier article. Now, as of February 21, 2015, there are new requirements that Citizenship and Immigration Canada, or CIC, have put in place for those coming to Canada under the program. The major change affects Canadian employers who plan to hire a foreign skilled worker under the International Mobility Program. Employers of LMIA-exempt workers will now be required to submit both the job offer made to the foreign worker and information on the company itself so that immigration authorities can ensure that employers are not taking advantage of the program to bring in cheaper foreign workers. It appears that the requirements between jobs that require LMIAs compared to LMIA-exempt jobs will now be much more similar in terms of the level of scrutiny by CIC. They will be closely monitoring the hiring and treatment of LMIA-exempt foreign workers by Canadian employers. It should be noted that foreign workers will not be able to apply for a work permit until their employer has submitted the required information and the job offer form to CIC.
The employer will also now be required to pay a so-called employer compliance fee which is to be set at CAD$230 and is to be paid online. Until both the fee is paid and the information is submitted regarding the job offer and the employer’s hiring and treatment of foreign workers, the foreign national cannot apply for a work permit.
Open Work Permits: New Fees
Machinist [Public Domain]
In the case of foreign workers applying for open work permits, a new fee of CAD$100 will be collected as of February 21, 2015 from the worker applying for the open work permit. This will be used to offset the cost of the program as well as to collect data on the open work permit and its impact in the Canadian labour market. A program to encourage open work permit holders to apply for permanent residence will also have its promotional aspects funded in part by this fee. The following open work permits are affected by this change:
- The working holiday portion of the International Experience Canada program;
- The Post-Graduation Working Permit program;
- Spouses or Common-Law Partners of highly-skilled foreign workers and international students who apply for work permits;
- Those in Canada waiting on permanent residence applications who apply for work permits.
As stated on CIC’s website, a robust compliance program will be put into place in order to monitor employers who hire LMIA-exempt workers. The penalties for non-compliance by employers will include the following:
- Penalties levied against employers who do not follow the new rules;
- Bans on hiring foreign nationals;
- Criminal investigations when deemed warranted.
Essentially, it seems that the immigration authorities in Canada are making LMIA-exempt workers and their employers subject to a de-facto LMIA-style review. It may be the first step in eliminating the LMIA-exempt category for certain International Mobility Programs. For now, these new requirements should be strictly followed by your employer before you can apply for a work permit as a LMIA-exempt foreign worker.
Welder [Public Domain]
As well, CIC is reviewing the International Experience Canada, or IEC, program to try and rebalance the opportunities for young Canadians to live and work overseas in one of the 32 countries with which Canada has partner agreements. Promoting among young Canadians the opportunities to live and work in so-called partner countries where few Canadians currently participate in IEC, will be part of the effort to rebalance the numbers of Canadians going abroad against foreigners coming to Canada under IEC. CIC has promised to review all the agreements with the possibility that some may not be renewed if few Canadians work and live in the partner country while many young people from that country come to Canada.
It is clear that CIC is constantly monitoring the success of each of their foreign worker, international student, or exchange programs, and it is always a good idea to keep up to date on the latest news coming from Ottawa to see how any new changes to the rules may affect your application.