With an increase in worker shortage showing itself across Canada, it is important for employers to know the basics of the foreign worker approval process by Immigration Canada (IRCC). The first step is typically to Employment Social Development Canada (ESDC) for the employer to obtain the worker approval which is called an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment). The process of obtaining an LMIA-based work process entails 3 stages:
I. Job advertising period: The position should be advertised on an at least 3 different websites, 2 of which must be national in scope. Among those two, one of them must be the Job Bank of Canada. The other ads are usually paid ads which reinforce the efforts made by the Canadian employer to hire locally.
The ads are drafted in a specific way so as to meet all legal requirements including: the NOC requirements, the needs of the employer and the qualifications of the candidates. The ads should be drafted in a way that Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residence can be reasonably expected to meet the employment requirements. The three ads should be live for at least 4 weeks at the same time.
II. LMIA application: Once the job advertising period is over and all required documents have been obtained by the employer the LMIA application can be submitted. The employer must pay a government processing fee of $ 1,000.00 CAD for each foreign worker that the company wishes to hire. These fees cannot be recovered in any way from the employee.
This stage could take about 3 months.
III. Work permit application: Once a positive or neutral LMIA application is issued by ESDC, the identified foreign workers can apply for work permits to IRCC. They will need to have valid passports to submit online work permit applications.
It is important to understand that having an approved LMIA does not guarantee that IRCC will approve the work permit. IRCC still has to be satisfied that the foreign workers not only meet the employment requirements, but also that their intention to come to Canada is only temporary.
As part of the work permit application, they will need to provide biometrics (photos and fingerprints) at a designated visa application centre. Additionally, they may also have to undergo medical examinations if the stay is longer than 6 months.
Taking all of the above into consideration you can budget 6 to 7 months for the work permits to be processed.
2. LMIA application
The wages offered to the foreign workers should be equal or higher than the median wage of the job in
the location where the company is located.
One important element of the LMIA process is to show that hiring these workers is essential for the
company and the company must show evidence of:
- When was the company incorporated and income tax records filed,
- The company’s main business activities and projects undertaken in the last year,
- What are the roles (title and duties) of the current full-time employees.
3. Registration to Hire Foreign Workers
In British Columbia, I strongly advise an employer to register the company with the Temporary Foreign
Worker Protection Unit of BC and obtain the necessary Certificate of Registration to hire foreign
workers. It is taking time for the Province to issue such registrations and it is a mandatory document to
be included as part of the LMIA application.
The details required for all stages of the process, be it the Job Bank, the LMIA application and the IRCC
work permit are detailed and nuanced. Always seek professional advice before submitting such
applications to ensure that all requirements are met for a successful conclusion.