Immigration authorities step up audits of employers

1 Oct 15

CANADA

IMPACT – HIGH

What is the change? Canadian authorities are auditing employers under the International Mobility Program as the result of new enforcement measures introduced in earlier this year.

What does the change mean? Employers should be aware that the audit program is underway and be prepared in case they are selected for random inspections. The audits seek extensive documentation and proof that employers are in compliance with all laws and requirements for hiring foreign workers.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits for foreign employees and assignees who are exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
  • Who is affected: Canadian employers recruiting and hiring foreign employees and assignees under the International Mobility Program, including intracompany transferees and NAFTA professionals, among others.
  • Business impact: Businesses will have to devote additional resources to compliance and responding to inspectors in the event of an audit. Employers found to be noncompliant face administrative penalties, a ban on hiring foreign workers and criminal prosecution in serious cases.

Background: Citizen and Immigration Canada reformed the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program last year, introducing increased enforcement with the goal of auditing one in four employers. New compliance and audit measures were introduced in February for LMIA-exempt work permits.

Audits will inspect employers in all aspects of an offer of employment submitted in support of a work permit, including wages, working conditions, health care coverage, accommodations and transportation costs where required. Extensive documentation will be sought, such as payroll statements, timesheets, employment contracts or collective bargaining agreements, proof of nonmonetary remuneration, proof of the foreign worker’s job duties, proof that the employer is actively engaged in business, compliance with provincial or territorial employment laws, proof of corporate policies to address and train employees on prevention of workplace abuse, and more. Depending on its review of the documentation, the government could seek additional information. The information gathered from audits will be shared with provincial or territorial governments as part of an information-sharing agreement for purposes of enforcing provincial/territorial laws.

BAL Analysis: Employers should be aware of the increased enforcement and audit environment in Canada and are strongly encouraged to conduct internal audits so they will be fully prepared in the event of an audit. In conjunction with the audits, a new administrative monetary penalty regime will be enforced beginning Dec. 1, significantly raising the consequences for employers found to be in violation of laws and regulations governing hiring foreign workers.

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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