Changes to Canada’s Foreign Worker System – The “International Mobility Program”

On June 20, 2014, the Hon. Jason Kenney (Employment and Social Development) and Chris Alexander (Citizenship & Immigration Canada) announced significant changes affecting foreign workers in Canada.  There will now be 2 general classes of work permits: those where a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA”) will be required and that that will not require a LMIA.  The latter will be under the “International Mobility Program” (“IMP”) and will include NAFTA work permits, International Experience Canada work permits, intra-company transferees and others.

Here are some of the key changes for work permits under the international mobility program:

  1. New Process for Employer-Specific Work Permit Applications:  Employers hiring through the IMP will be required to submit job offers and other relevant information to CIC before the foreign national can apply for a work permit.  This will effectively create a pre-screening process.
  1. Inspections for LMIA-exempt Work Permit Holders: A robust compliance system will be put in place to monitor employers.  Inspections could lead to penalties being levied against employers who are not following the rules, as well as bans from hiring foreign nationals and even criminal investigation.
  1. Application Fee Raised to $230:  A $230 application fee per work permit will be introduced where the work permit is employer specific and LMIA-exempt.
  1. Privilege Fee for Open Work Permit Holders:  A $100 “privilege fee” will be introduced for foreign workers applying for open work permits.
  1. Specific LMIA-exempt Streams to be Revised:  Revisions to the International Experience Canada stream are expected in addition to changes to the intra-company transferee stream which took effect June 9, 2014.

Although some of these changes are not expected until Summer 2015, employers and foreign nationals looking to work in Canada will need to consider how these changes will affect their long term plans.

It is more important than ever to obtain professional advice when hiring foreign workers.  At Lowe & Company, we have helped employers bring in foreign workers for over 20 years.  If you would like to see how these changes apply to your business, please contact Mr. Rick Che in client services to arrange a consultation with one of our professional advisors.