Changes will impact high-skilled temporary foreign workers, intra-company transfers

23 Jun 14

CANADA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Canada has announced details on the new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) category and changes to the International Mobility Program.

What does the change mean? The LMIA category will replace the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) category with a more rigorous work permit stream and will strengthen criteria and monitoring of LMIA-exempt hiring.

  • Implementation timeframe:Some provisions take effect immediately; others will take effect this year and next year.
  • Visas/permits affected:Temporary Foreign Worker Program, LMO category, Intra-company transfers (ICTs).
  • Who is affected:Employers hiring foreign nationals in the above categories as well as LMIA-exempt positions.
  • Impact on processing times:

Background: On June 19, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, most of them affecting low-skilled, low-wage workers. However, the changes also affect workers in the high-skilled LMO and ICT categories.

Details on the new LMIA category:

  1. “High-wage” positions under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program will be defined as jobs being paid at or above the provincial or territorial median wage. They will include managerial, scientific, professional, skilled trades and technical positions.
  2. In most LMIA applications for high-wage workers, an employer will be required to submit a transition plan detailing how it will increase efforts to hire Canadians through recruitment, higher wages and training programs within Canada.
  3. Under the new LMIA, an employer must track how many Canadians applied for each job, how many Canadians the employer interviewed and why they were not hired.
  4. Canadian job candidates will be able to apply directly through the Canadian Job Bank through the newer job matching service. Officials reviewing work permit applications will be able to view how many qualified Canadians have applied for each job.
  5. One-quarter of the employers who hire temporary foreign workers will be inspected. A confidential tip-line and web page will be set up to take complaints, and federal and local authorities will share more information with each other.
  6. Penalties for employers who violate the rules will increase to maximum fines of CAD 100,000 and/or five years’ imprisonment.
  7. Fees for LMIA will increase from CAD 275 to CAD 1,000.

Changes to the International Mobility Programs:

  1. All workers who are LMIA-exempt will be considered under the International Mobility Program, which will be transferred from the Temporary Foreign Workers’ Program to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
  2. Intra-company transferees must be paid at least the regional prevailing wage for their occupations and must meet a stricter definition of “specialized knowledge.”
  3. Employers must pay a new “compliance fee” of CAD 230 for each work permit for LMIA-exempt positions. This fee will fund a new monitoring system similar to the data collection, inspections and monitoring described above.
  4. CIC will conduct a thorough review of LMIA-exempt streams to identify categories that should be subject to LMIA.
  5. Holders of open work permits (spouses and partners of temporary foreign workers or foreign students; and international students who graduated from Canadian colleges or universities) will be charged a privilege fee of CAD 100.

BAL Analysis: Employers should be aware that these changes are aimed at putting Canadians first in line for open jobs and impose significantly stricter eligibility criteria and beefed-up enforcement measures.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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