On February 21, 2015, changes to the International Mobility Program will come into force, thus strengthening employers’ accountability regarding the hiring of temporary foreign workers when they are exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment process. More particularly, employers will be required to pay a compliance fee as well as submit information on their businesses.

Context

In June 2014, the government of Canada announced a sweeping reform of its Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), which resulted in major changes for employers seeking to hire foreign nationals.

One of the changes implemented was the creation of two separate programs, namely (1) the TFWP, for temporary employment offers requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and (2) the International Mobility Program, for temporary employment offers that are exempt from the LMIA process.

The International Mobility Program includes, to name only a few, intra-company transferees, International Experience Canada participants as well as individuals eligible under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The International Mobility Program is coordinated by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) whereas the TFWP is led by Employment and Social Development Canada.

Since these changes came into force, the main focus of governmental authorities has been reforming the TFWP, while the International Mobility Program had, up until recently, remained somewhat under the radar.

Changes for employers

In an effort to strengthen employers’ accountability under the International Mobility Program, CIC has announced that employers wishing to employ foreign nationals exempt from the LMIA process will be required to submit information about their business organizations and pay a new compliance fee.

Consequently, starting February 21, 2015, employers will be asked to submit information on their businesses and pay the compliance fee before the work permit application is submitted.

The employer compliance fee has been set at $230 and must be paid online.

The fees collected will cover the costs associated with compliance activities, including inspections of employers using the International Mobility Program.

Once the fees are paid, the employer must complete and submit form IMM5802 entitled “Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment,” containing all the information required for an immigration officer to assess an application under the International Mobility Program.

Note that the new compliance fee must be paid in addition to the regular work permit application fee currently set at $155.

However, employers will be exempt from paying the new compliance fee when foreign nationals they wish to hire are themselves exempted from the payment of the regular work permit application fee.

CIC has announced that the compliance fee will be reimbursed to the employer if the work permit application is ultimately refused or if the employer withdraws the offer of employment before a work permit is issued.

New fee for open work permit applicants

Starting February 21, 2015, a new fee of $100 will be collected from open work permit applicants.

This will be paid at the same time as the regular work permit application fee currently set, as stated above, at $155.

However, foreign nationals will be exempt from paying this fee if they are exempted from paying the regular work permit application fee.

CIC has announced that the compliance fee will be reimbursed to the foreign national if the work permit application is ultimately refused or if the foreign national withdraws his/her application.

The fees collected will cover the cost of new governmental initiatives to improve data collection regarding the role of open work permit holders in the Canadian labour market as well as to promote their access to permanent residence.

As this fee applies to work permits that are not employer specific, the main streams of the International Mobility Program affected by this change will be the working holiday portion of International Experience Canada, the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program and spouses and common law partners of highly skilled workers.

Upcoming changes

CIC has also announced that an “Employer Portal” will be put in place in July 2015 to facilitate these new changes. Once this portal is in place, employers will be expected to submit their offers of employment electronically to CIC.