The British Columbia government recently announced the temporary extension of the Information Technology (IT) Workers Program until March 31, 2011. This Program was previously scheduled to end on October 1, 2010. The extension of the IT Workers Program will be well-received by the IT industry, especially in light of the advertising requirements and lengthy processing times associated with Labour Market Opinion (“LMO”) applications.

While the extension provides some relief for IT companies in BC, the provincial government’s intention is to introduce a new LMO Exemption Occupation List in 2011. As always, the Miller Thomson Immigration Group is pleased to assist employers with IT worker applications.

Below are the current scenarios facing employers:

1. Work permit applications received prior to October 1, 2010

Work permit (WP) applications submitted under the IT Workers Program at a Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) visa office or at the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville, or requests for WP issuances received by Canada Border Services Agency at a port of entry prior to October 1, 2010, will not need to be accompanied by an LMO. Approved requests for an extension of a WP or a new WP application filed prior to October 1, 2010 will allow a maximum duration of one year from the date of issuance of the WP.

2. Work Permit applications received on or after October 1, 2010 for work in British Columbia

From October 1, 2010 until March 31, 2011, employers interested in hiring Temporary Foreign Workers (“TFW”) for positions located in British Columbia and in one of the seven occupations covered under the information technology facilitated process will be required to first notify Service Canada (SC) and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development (AELMD) of their offer of employment before proceeding to have the foreign workers apply to CIC to obtain a WP.

The notification will consist of employers informing both SC and AELMD by e-mail of their intent to hire a foreign worker in one of the seven IT occupations under the IT facilitated process. Within the email, employers must provide specific information respecting eight key criteria.

3. Work Permit Applications received after October 1, 2010 (for work in all Provinces and Territories other than British Columbia and Quebec)

Employers who wish to hire temporary IT foreign workers for work in all Provinces and Territories other than British Columbia and Quebec will be required to apply for an LMO. Please note that before submitting an LMO application, employers are required to conduct advertising and recruitment efforts which meet the TFW Guidelines and SC requirements, and that employers should plan sufficient time to conduct these activities.

Work permit applications received by CIC or by CBSA at a port of entry for positions in provinces other than Quebec and British Columbia will require a copy of the LMO for the seven specific IT occupations that were previously under the facilitated process. Furthermore, in accordance with the regular TFWP process, employers should be reminded that all LMOs in British Columbia now have a six month validity date in which to apply for the WP.