The Government of Canada has recently announced significant changes to the Specialized Knowledge stream of the Intra-Company Transfer program. Moving forward, employees seeking transfer under this title must meet more stringent conditions in order to receive a temporary work permit.
The Intra-Company Transfer Program
Canada has a number of programs put in place to facilitate the entry of temporary foreign workers, who benefit the Canadian economy. One such program is the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) program. Through this program, foreign enterprises with a presence in Canada may transfer certain key workers to their Canadian offices on a temporary basis.
The ICT program is broken into three streams. They are:
- Senior Managerial; and
- Specialized Knowledge
Executives generally occupy the highest levels of a company’s management structure, and are integral to the organization’s international leadership. Senior managers generally oversee a significant number of subordinate employees, including lower-level managers. Specialized knowledge workers possess skills, expertise, and company knowledge that is integral to the functioning of an organization.
Workers coming to Canada through the ICT program must be transferred to a Canadian parent company, branch, affiliate or subsidiary of their foreign employer.
The ICT program is a popular option for international businesses, as companies transferring employees under the ICT program are exempt from the need to obtain Labour Market Opinions (LMOs), which helps to speed up their application processing time.
Changes to Specialized Knowledge Stream
Two major changes have been made to the eligibility criteria of the Specialized Knowledge stream of the ICT program.
First Change – Knowledge Requirements Increased
Moving forward, workers in this stream must demonstrate two aspects of their specialized knowledge:
- Advanced Proprietary Knowledge – Applicants must demonstrate that they know company information that is deemed proprietary by that company.
- Advanced Level of Expertise – Applicants must demonstrate that their professional knowledge is higher and more specified than the average worker in their field. This knowledge should be advanced enough so that it cannot be easily transferred to another worker in their occupation.
Previously, proprietary knowledge was not a requirement, and ICT applicants could meet eligibility requirements by possessing an advanced level of expertise alone.
Second Change – Increased Wage Requirements
Specialized Knowledge workers must also meet stricter salary requirements than before. Firstly, workers must be offered a salary in Canada that meets or exceeds the ‘prevailing wage’ for their occupation. To determine the ‘prevailing wage’, the government generally relies on official statistics that calculate the average salary for an occupation in a specific Canadian town or region.
The government has expressed that, given the fact that these individuals possess highly specialized knowledge, they are likely to possess an ‘above-average salary’ when compared to Canadian workers in similar occupations.
What This Means for Applicants
Intra-Company Transferees continue to be welcomed to the country through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. However, it is important that those individuals who are transferred to Canada are truly a benefit to the Canadian economy, and that they possess critical knowledge that will help their Canadian company succeed.
Individuals wishing to work in Canada should be aware that while intra-company transfer may be a good option, there are several programs currently in place to facilitate entry that may also suit their needs.
“While the Intra-Company Transfer Program is still a good option, there are many other ways for skilled workers to come and work in Canada,” said Attorney David Cohen. “Canada has a diverse labour market, with options for employees in a wide array of fields. There were over 338,000 Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada at the end of 2012. This number speaks for itself; Canada has many programs in place to welcome its foreign workers.
To find out if you or your employee(s) are eligible for the ICT program, please contact Campbell Cohen today.