In most cases, a Canadian employer wishing to hire a foreign worker must first obtain government approval in the form of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before the hiring can take place.
In order to receive a positive LMIA, the Canadian government employee reviewing an application must determine that the hiring of a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labor market. Among other factors, it must be clearly demonstrated that no qualified Canadians were passed over in favor of the foreign worker, and that the foreign worker will be given a salary and benefits that meet federal and provincial standards.
Exemptions from the LMIA process have included intra-company transferees and professionals under free trade agreements such as NAFTA. However, now, under the new procedure effective February 21, 2015, an employer will be required to submit information about its business, complete an offer of employment form as yet unreleased and pay a $230 "employer compliance fee" online to Citizenship and Immigration Canada before the work permit application is filed. The employer compliance fee:
is in addition to the current work permit processing fee of $155;
does not apply to employers hiring foreign nationals who have open work permits;
and starting February 21, 2015, a $100 fee will be collected from open work permit applicants, which will be paid at the same time as the work permit processing fee and can be paid online.
According to a communication submitted by the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC), “there are no specific details as to the information about their business or organization that an employer is required to submit to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Further there are no details about what information is required on the Offer of Employment form.”
In a member update on February 11th, CERC expressed additional concerns that these changes may have significant implications for employees who are seeking to enter Canada as Intra-Company transferees and has written to Immigration Minister Alexander, seeking a 90-day delay in the implementation of the new requirements, and requested a formal consultation process to allow employers to identify their concerns.
CERC additionally suggested that employers should try to plan for possible delays with onboarding foreign transferees, and a possible impact to business operations resulting from these changes if the delay is not granted. As of February 21st, foreign nationals will not be able to get an employer-specific work permit if their employer has not submitted the required forms and paid the fee.