By Catherine Sas, K.C. and Victor Ing,
Special to The Post
There is a constant discussion in mainstream media about the need for foreign workers to maintain and support the Canadian economy. Practically, however, it is not that easy for employers to bring foreign workers to Canada in a timely fashion. At our immigration law firm, we find that employers are often surprised at the numerous steps that they need to take to bring foreign workers to Canada to assist them with their business obligations. What does an employer need to know to be able to streamline the process of bringing workers to Canada?
REGISTERING AS AN EMPLOYER
Some provinces, such as British Columbia (BC), require employers to register prior to applying for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). For more information about the LMIA process, please see our previous blog(s):
The process for registering as an employer in BC can be found here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/employment-standards/hiring/hire-temporary-foreign-workers/register-as-employer/start
It is important to commence this process as soon as possible as currently the processing time in BC to register as an employer is taking up to four months. There is no cost in BC for registering as an employer so taking this step now can save time in the future if you need to bring foreign workers to Canada pursuant to an LMIA. For employers in other provinces, it is worth checking the statutory requirements in your own locale.
SETTING UP AN EMPLOYER PORTAL
In order for an employer to support a work permit application that is LMIA exempt, in most cases it is necessary for the employer to register for an “Employer Portal” account with IRCC and to pay a $230 fee called the “Employer Compliance Fee” or “ECF”.
The Employer Portal allows employers to support foreign workers for non-LMIA work permits by uploading the details of their job offer with IRCC online. The registration process is free and requires the employer to share basic information with IRCC to register the business, including the business’s legal and operating name; Canada Revenue Agency business number; and contact information for the primary contact person who will represent the business in its dealings with IRCC.
In addition, employers who are working with an immigration representative (immigration lawyers or consultants) may also grant secondary access to their Employer Portal so that they can assist the employer in making job offers moving forward. The IRCC portal system is NOT easy to navigate and immigration representatives struggle themselves to contend with this evolving IRCC digital system.
WORKING WITH LICENCED RECRUITERS
Engaging the services of a recruiter to assist you in finding foreign workers is a path that many employers who are struggling to find workers turn to. Many provinces and territories legislate and provide recruitment services including BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Ontario has introduced legislation for recruitment agencies to be licenced as of 2024. The Canadian recruitment landscape is ever-changing in an effort to protect vulnerable foreign workers. Employers are well advised to check their provincial or territorial legislation to confirm the rules of the recruitment process. Furthermore, most provinces and territories prohibit the payment of any recruitment fees by prospective employees. Any recruitment fees MUST be paid by the prospective employer!
AVOIDING THE LMIA PROCESS
There is no application process more dreaded by immigration representatives than the LMIA process. Suffice to say it is complicated, lengthy, cumbersome and expensive. Any other option to bring a foreign worker to Canada is to be preferred. There are numerous options such as the many trade agreements that Canada is a party to which allow for the exchange of workers. Intra Company Transferee (ICT) work permits allow for the transfer of workers between corporate entities that have a multinational presence. There is also the International Experience Class (IEC) which provides a means for young people to come to Canada on open work permits. A savvy employer will familiarize themselves with these programs. For further information about these processes, please refer to our former blogs:
The International Experience Class: Canada Welcomes the World Youth・: https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/the-international-experience-class-canada-welcomes-the-worlds-youth/
鄭ccessing Canada痴 Immigration Programs to Address Labour Shortages: What Employers Need to Know!・:
摘mployer Roadblocks for Hiring Foreign Workers Continue!・:
ETA ・ Canadas newest Trade Agreement provides for Exchange of Foreign workers:
哲ew registry for BC employers seeking workers or caregivers from abroad・: https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/new-registry-for-bc-employers-seeking-workers-or-caregivers-from-abroad/
敵ood News for Canadian Employers: Government Announces New Measures to Address Labour Shortages in Canada・:
WHERE ARE YOUR WORKERS COMING FROM?
It is worth considering where your workers are coming from. One of the most straightforward means of bringing foreign workers to Canada is by way of our numerous trade agreements that allow for the exchange of services between member nations, as was mentioned above. It is worth learning what these exchange provisions are particularly with a view to streamlining the application process and avoiding an LMIA application. Canada has trade agreements with a large number of countries including the USA, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Columbia, Korea, the European Union, the UK and several Asian countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The list is ever-growing and is well worth becoming familiar with. Each agreement is different and the workers that you can bring from the USA and Mexico are not the same as you can bring from Europe or South America, but these agreements are highly beneficial options to have in an employer’s toolbox to bring foreign workers to Canada.
Notwithstanding all the media hype about foreign workers coming to Canada in droves, it takes an employer with a steely constitution to navigate the process of successfully supporting immigration applications for foreign workers. There are numerous steps in this process and, as in most things, knowledge is power. Employers needing to supplement their Canadian workforce should familiarize themselves with all aspects of Canada’s foreign worker program and also become aware of any provincial and territorial requirements as well.
Catherine Sas, K.C. has over 30 years of legal experience. She provides a full range of immigration services and is a leading immigration practitioner (Lexpert, Who’s Who Legal, Best Lawyers in Canada).
Victor Ing is a lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre. He provides a full range of immigration services.