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Sponsored immigration

New hires

What sponsored visas or work permits are available to employers seeking to hire foreign nationals in your jurisdiction? What are the eligibility criteria, application procedures and maximum period of stay for each?

Most employers seeking to hire a foreign national may need to obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for the position. The success of the LMIA will depend on the duties that the employee will undertake in Canada and the specific position. The employer must advertise for the position for a minimum of four weeks and conduct similar recruitment activities consistent with the practice within the occupation. The main goal of the process is to demonstrate that the presence of the foreign worker will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labour market.

There are some situations where an LMIA is not required, such as where one of the following applies:

  • a free trade agreement;
  • an intra-company transfer;
  • a significant benefit work permit;
  • a significant investment work permit;
  • mobilité francophone permit;
  • a reciprocal employment work permit;
  • an International Experience Canada Young Professionals Programme work permit;
  • a religious or charitable nature work permit; and
  • certain postdoctoral research and other education-based work permits.

There are also other situations where an LMIA may not be required.

Intra-company transfers

What sponsored visas or work permits are available to multinational employers seeking to transfer foreign employees to your jurisdiction? What are the eligibility criteria, application procedures and maximum period of stay for each?

An intra-company transfer work permit is available to those who have been employed by a company outside Canada for at least one year out of the three previous years, including immediately before the transfer. The applicant must hold a senior managerial or executive position or a specialised knowledge position. The transfer to Canada must be to a similar position. The corporate relationship between the company in Canada and the company abroad must be parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch.

The maximum period of stay is five years for specialised knowledge positions and seven years for managerial or executive positions is seven years.

Do any special rules govern secondments?


Sponsor requirements and considerations

What are the eligibility and procedural requirements for employers to sponsor foreign employees?

The eligibility and procedural requirements vary by application. For an LMIA, employers are generally required to:

  • demonstrate that they have a legitimate business;
  • advertise for the position for a minimum of 30 days;
  • be up to date with the Canada Revenue Agency, as several documents are required;
  • have been open for at least one year; and
  • offer the prevailing wage for the position.


What ongoing reporting and record-keeping requirements apply to sponsors?

Employers are required to advise of any changes to the employment, such as a wage increase or change in location. Further, employers must keep all documents and records associated with any work permit application and any documents that demonstrate their compliance with the programme conditions, must be kept for a period of six years.

In what circumstances (if any) must the employer submit to resident labour market testing before hiring or transferring foreign employees? Do any exemptions apply?

See above.

Are there any annual quota limits or restrictions on certain positions that can be filled by foreign nationals?

International youth exchange programmes as part of International Experience Canada have quota limits which vary between jurisdictions.

Are there any immigration exemptions or other special schemes for shortage occupations in your jurisdiction?

There are schemes that occur provincially and change according to need. It is best to check regularly to see what is current.

How long does it typically take to obtain a sponsored visa? Is expedited visa processing available?

It depends if a visa is required or a port of entry application may occur. Processing times for visas are nationality dependent and range from two weeks to six months. Expedited processing is available at the discretion of immigration officers at consulates and is applied on a case-by-case basis.

What rules govern the hiring of foreign third-party contractors?

Rules for the hiring of foreign third-party contractors vary according to the individual context.

What are the penalties for sponsor non-compliance with the relevant immigration laws and regulations?

The consequences for non-compliance vary according to the severity of the offence and can range from a warning to a fine ranging from C$500 to C$100,000 per violation, up to a maximum of C$1 million over one year, per employer.

Are there any other special considerations for sponsors in your jurisdiction?


General employee requirements

Must sponsored employees meet any language requirements?


Are sponsored employees subject to any medical checks?

Employees from certain countries who intend to stay for more than six months may be required to undergo medical and biometric checks.

Must sponsored employees meet any medical or other insurance requirements?

Employees must be medically admissible to Canada.

Are sponsored employees subject to any security or background checks?

When processing work permit applications, an immigration officer will consider whether the applicant is inadmissible based on any criminal or medical factors.

Are sponsored employees subject to any restrictions on studying or working second or volunteer jobs?

Sponsored employees must have their employer’s name on the work permit and are allowed to work only for this specific employer.

Volunteering is possible, but there are restrictions depending on the type of volunteer position.

If a course or programme in Canada lasts six months or less, a study permit is required.

Are there any rules or standards governing the equivalence of sponsored employees’ foreign qualifications?

Qualification requirements vary depending on the classification.

What are the penalties for employee non-compliance with the relevant immigration laws and regulations?

Penalties can be issued with an exclusion order and subjects can subsequently be deported from Canada.

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