US employers planning to send their employees north of the border to Canada will have one extra hoop to jump through as of this Saturday, February 21, 2015.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada published a notice on their website on February 9, 2015 announcing changes to strengthen employer accountability under the International Mobility Program. The change is intended to equalize the hiring and treatment of foreign workers by making all employers face the same level of scrutiny, whether they are bringing workers in through the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process or through the designated LMIA-exempt categories.

As of February 21, 2015, employers hiring foreign nationals who are exempt from the LMIA process will have to first pay a $230 CAD employer compliance fee online to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The fee is meant to offset the cost of what Citizenship and Immigration Canada is calling “robust employer compliance activities”, which will include inspections of thousands of employers. Once the fee is paid, a receipt will be generated.

The employer will then have to submit a new online form. The form will require information about the business, including its name, contact information and CRA business number, as well as an electronic “offer of employment” and information that demonstrates that the applicant qualifies under the International Mobility Program.

So how does this new regulation affect international businesses sending their employees to Canada through the employer-specific, LMIA-exempt intra-company transfer category? If the permit is being applied for upon arrival in Canada, the new online form will have to be filled out and the fees will have to be paid before the transferee arrives at the border.  The employer will then give a copy of both the receipt and the completed form to the transferee so that they can be included in the application package given to the Canadian Customs Officer upon arrival.

What if the employer does not comply with the new requirement? The penalties listed are fairly severe and range from a monetary penalty, a ban from hiring foreign workers, and in more serious cases even a criminal investigation and prosecution.

As of the date of this blog posting, developments are still underway – it has not yet been confirmed as to what exactly the online form will look like or whether a designated representative will be able to fill out the form on the employer’s behalf. Chiarotto Sultan LLP will be periodically updating this posting as more information is made available.