Temporary Foreign Workers – An Important Source of Labor Supply in Canada
Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program enables Canadian employers to hire eligible foreign nationals to work for them in Canada for a specified duration, provided they can demonstrate that the employers cannot find a suitable Canadian/permanent resident to do the job and that the entry of the foreign national will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labor market. Employers must note that all individuals wishing to work in Canada require a work permit.
In most cases, unless an exemption is available (a discussion of which is outside the scope of this article), an employer must obtain a favorable labor market opinion (LMO) from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada/Service Canada (Service Canada) before the foreign national can apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to obtain a work permit. An LMO is Service Canada’s opinion on the likely impact that hiring the foreign national will have on the Canadian labor market.
If an LMO is required to hire a particular foreign national, the prospective Canadian employer must submit an application to Service Canada setting out, among other things: the occupation for which the foreign national is required; details of the job offer including wages and working conditions that will apply to the foreign worker; advertising and recruitment efforts on the employer’s part to hire a Canadian or permanent resident to fill the position; the benefits that the foreign worker’s employment may have to the Canadian labor market; a copy of the employment contract (required in some cases); the number of Canadians/permanent residents currently employed in the organization; whether any Canadians/permanent residents were laid off in the 12 months preceding the application; and education, experience, and skills (including language skills) required for the position.
The advertising requirements with which an employer must comply depend on the skill level of the occupation for which the LMO is being sought, having regard to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) Skill Levels O, A, B, C, and D. Generally, some combination of advertising on the National Job Bank (or the equivalent in Saskatchewan, Quebec, or the Northwest Territories) and/or conducting similar recruitment activities consistent with the practice within the occupation (e.g., Internet job sites, national newspapers, consulting unions, newsletters, or professional associations) is required for a minimum number of days and for a specified duration prior to making the LMO application. However, the specific requirements vary depending on the occupation at issue and should be carefully considered in each individual case.
Employers should seek legal advice to ensure they comply with the requisite advertising standards applicable to their particular case, because failure to comply with the advertising efforts required for the particular NOC level and category at issue will result in an LMO being denied.
If a favorable LMO is issued, the employer must send a copy of the written confirmation to the worker along with a signed job offer (and employment contract, if required). The foreign national then applies to CIC for a work permit, the issuance of which depends on the foreign national meeting admissibility requirements and is within the discretion of the CIC officer and Canada Visa and Border Services officer assessing the work permit application and the foreign national’s entry into Canada, respectively.
Employers should be aware that any LMO issued to them expires 6 months from the issuance date and unless, within this time frame, the foreign national has applied to CIC for a work permit and certain other requirements have been met, the LMO will be deemed to expire and the employer will need to apply for a new LMO to hire a foreign worker.
Also, it should be noted that extensions of an LMO are no longer permitted. The elimination of the extension application is of particular importance to employers wishing to continue the employment of a foreign national beyond the duration of his or her current work permit. Employers should seek legal advice for their particular situation to ensure that they apply for a new LMO in a timely fashion so they can continue to employ their chosen foreign workers as desired.
Legal advice should also be sought regarding proposed changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that will introduce a number of factors applicable to the assessment of the genuineness of an employer’s job offer of employment under this program. These proposed changes, if enacted, will lead to a more rigorous approach to the assessment of LMO and LMO-exempt cases.