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Canada Rolls Out ‘Employer Portal’ for International Mobility Program

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New online system facilitates applications made by Canadian employers to hire LMIA-exempt foreign workers

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has launched a new online system, known as the Employer Portal, for managing the processing of offers of employment made by Canadian employers to foreign workers through the International Mobility Program (IMP). The Employer Portal came into operation on October 26, 2015.

Offers of employment made to foreign workers through the IMP are exempt from the requirement for employers to apply for and obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), a document that serves as proof that there will be a positive or neutral impact to the Canadian labour market. Jobs that require a LMIA fall under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), which does not overlap with the IMP.

Exemptions from the LMIA process are based on:

  • broader economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada; and
  • reciprocal benefits enjoyed by Canadians and permanent residents.

Examples of foreign workers who come to Canada through the IMP include intra-company transferees and workers under the auspices of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The Employer Portal: The latest in a series of changes to the IMP

The launch of the Employer Portal follows changes made to the processing of applications made through the IMP that came into effect on 21 February, 2015. These changes brought in, among other modifications, new requirements for employers to submit offers of employment to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) before the foreign national(s) arrived at the Canadian border, as well as a new fee structure.

Whereas before 21 February, 2015, certain foreign nationals wishing to work in Canada on an LMIA-exempt work permit were able to obtain one at the Canadian border, since that date they have been unable to obtain an employer-specific work permit if the intended employer has not first submitted the required information and paid a fee before the work permit application is submitted.

Submitting an offer of employment

In most cases, to hire a temporary worker through the IMP, employers must:

  • pay the employer compliance fee of $230; and
  • submit an offer of employment form through the Employer Portal.

If the foreign worker has an open work permit, employers do not need to submit an offer of employment form or pay the employer compliance fee. An open work permit allows the permit holder to work for any Canadian employer. Examples of individuals who may have an open work permit include international students who have graduated from a Canadian school, International Experience Canada participants, some permanent resident applicants settling in Canada while their PR application is finalized, and spouses or common-law partners of highly-skilled foreign workers.

In cases where a foreign national does not hold an open work permit, Canadian employers wishing to hire a foreign national under the IMP are required to use the Employer Portal.

How does the Employer Portal work?

The Employer Portal is essentially an online replacement of the IMM 5802 form: Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The sections of the Employer Portal and the nature of the questions asked are the same as on the IMM 5802. The information submitted through the Employer Portal may be used for employer compliance review purposes at a later date; consequently, all information submitted should be accurate and up to date.

Once the business has created a login to the Portal and clicked the option to submit an offer of employment, the user is presented with questions about type and size of the business, as well as its main activities. In addition, details of the job being offered, including duties and minimum requirements (such as level of education) for the foreign national, are required. Details of the wage and benefits on offer must also be submitted.

Once these sections have been completed, the user (i.e. the business) may pay the $230 employer compliance fee and submit the information to CIC via the Portal. While some initial results have shown that a reply can be instantaneous, other employers have waited a few hours, or up to a couple of days, to receive confirmation that the information has been received. Once the offer is accepted through the Portal, the business receives a file number that may then be forwarded to the foreign worker, so that he or she can apply for a temporary work permit.

The reaction

“The arrival of the Employer Portal, which follows a number of changes made to the international hiring process made earlier this year, present additional hurdles for employers wishing to hire foreign nationals on a temporary basis in Canada,” says Attorney Daniel Levy of Campbell Cohen Law Firm.

“All of the changes, taken together, increase the margin for error on the part of employers. This is especially the case for businesses that are unfamiliar with international temporary hiring, but is also true for those businesses that have previously brought in foreign workers from overseas. Submitting an offer of employment online and navigating the new Portal are just two new obstacles that must be faced, and because the information submitted through the Portal may be used if or when a compliance review takes place, it is important to get it right first time around.”

To learn more about these new regulations and enquire about obtaining a work permit for a foreign national to work in Canada, please send the Campbell Cohen work permit team an email at wp@canadavisa.com

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