TRUSTED EMPLOYERS TO GET QUICKER ACCESS TO TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS

At long last the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, has launched a trusted employer program for foreign workers, the Recognized Employer Pilot (REP) under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

REP is a three-year initiative intended to help address labour shortages and reduce the administrative burden for repeat employers participating in the program who demonstrate a history of complying with program requirements.

Under the REP, eligible employers will gain access to Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) that are valid for up to 36 months, while also benefitting from a simplified LMIA application, should they need to hire additional workers from the same occupation during the Pilot. This will help employers better plan for their staffing needs and reduce the number of different LMIAs they need to submit over three years.

To be eligible to participate in REP, employers must have a minimum of three positive LMIAs for the same occupation over the past five years from a list of occupations that have been designated as in-shortage based on Canadian Occupational Projection System data.  Although the program is for “trusted employers”, meaning those with a sound track record using the TFWP in the past and is intended to reduce the administrative burden on employers,  the Minister’s  announcement indicated that employers will be subject to a more rigorous upfront assessment process based on their history and track record with the program, in order to ensure that REP targets employers with the best recruitment practices. This appears someone contradictory and therefore,  likely not as streamlined as what many businesses were hoping for in a trusted program.  Even the list of approved occupations appears confusing, using a suite of models developed by the Economic Skills Development Canada to project labour demand and labour supply, and identify labour market imbalances (shortages/surplus) for 293 occupational groupings at the national level, covering the entire workforce for the 2022-2031- period.

REP will be rolled out in two phases:

  • First, primary agriculture employers will be able to apply starting in September 2023,
  • While all other employers will be eligible to apply in January 2024. Employer applications for REP will close in September 2024.

Employers who qualify can expect:

  • A simplified application process for future LMIA applications for positions on the COPS list;
  • Fewer points of contact between participating employers and ESDC during the pilot due to simplified LMIA forms that allow employers to hire more TFW for genuine job offers during REP; &
  • A job bank designation that indicates their recognized status to increase interest from prospective workers.

The fact that employers, other than those in the agriculture industry, will have to wait until next year to use the REP is most disappointing. It also does not apply to employers using the Global Talent Steam (GTS) LMIA program or International Mobility Program, many of who have  solid track records  hiring foreign workers and are very trustworthy.  Hopefully the REP does simplify the LMIA process for those eligible employers, and the government is open to expanding the program sooner rather than later.

If you have questions about this announcement, please contact one of our Canadian immigration legal professionals by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; garciafialdini@cilf.ca.

A Tech Strategy That Lacks Economic Benefits For Canada

In an attempt to help tech businesses, fill labour shortages and to become a “tech talent” leader, the Minister of Immigration Refugee Citizenship Canada (“the Minister”) recently announced six new measures.

  1. Open work permits for holders of H-1B visas: Foreign workers on H-1B specialty occupations visas in the US will be able apply for a Canadian work permit, study permit, and work permit options for their accompanying family members.
    • The H1-B specialty occupation visa holder work permit will commence from July 16, 2023 and will remain in effect for one year or until Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) receives 10,000 applications, whichever comes first.
    • Approved applicants will receive an open work permit of up to three years in duration, which means they will be able to work for almost any employer anywhere in Canada.

This initiative may help to buy time for foreign nationals that missed the H1-B draw in the United States but is unlikely to benefit Canadian businesses.  Instead, these foreign workers will likely continue to work for their American employers remotely from Canada. This will not assist Canada in building a strong tech workforce to benefit Canadians companies, but rather it will put more strain on the housing market as these 10,000 workers will need a place to live while they continue to work for their American employers from the comfort of their Canadian homes.

  1. An Innovative Stream under the International Mobility program: This new stream is intended to be an integral part of the tech talent strategy by attracting highly skilled individuals to Canada. This innovative stream will be exempt from a labour market impact assessment (LMIA).
    • Employer specific work permits for up to 5 years to workers destined to work for a company identified as contributing to Canada’s industrial innovative goals. If a company contributes to Canada’s industrial innovation goals, the company will be able to hire foreign workers without obtaining an LMIA.
    • Open work permits for up to 5 years for highly skilled workers in selected in-demand occupations.

It remains to be seen what the criteria will be for a Canadian company to meet the definition of “contributing to Canada’s industrial innovative goals”, and which occupations will be designated as “in- demand”.

  1. A return to 14-day service standard for work permits under the Global Skills Strategy: The Global Skills Strategy initiative was introduced prior to the pandemic to support Canadian employers seeking quick access to highly skilled talent from around the world was negatively impacted by the pandemic. Processing times far exceeded the 14-day service standard during the pandemic. The Minister confirmed that Employment and Social Development Canada is now meeting the two-week standard for processing Global Talent Stream labour market assessments for employers and IRCC is also now meeting their two-week standard for processing GSS work permit applications. The is welcomed news for Canadian employers.
  2. Canada will become a destination for digital nomads: Apparently, individuals that work in technology will be allowed to work in Canada for six months as a visitor.

This announcement is puzzling, because our immigration legislation already allows visitors to work remote from Canada, as long as they do not receive compensation from a Canadian source. So, it is unclear how this announcement will enhance the current talent pool. Meanwhile these individuals will need accommodation, and potentially other resources, such as healthcare. Perhaps when details are announced the benefits might reveal themselves.

  1. Express Entry STEM-specific draws: To further support the recruitment of skilled individuals, a STEM-specific draw under the Express Entry Program was announced. The first draw occurred July 5, 2023, and selected candidates with expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Invitations were issued to 500 individuals with a comprehensive ranking score (CRS) of 486. Given that recent regular draws invited individuals with CRS of 488, initially there doesn’t seem to be a huge advantage to these STEM candidates as they likely would have received an invitation in any event.

  1. Improvements to the Start-up Visa Program (SUV): The Start-up Visa path to permanent residence targets foreign entrepreneurs who gain the support of a designated Canadian venture, capital fund, angel investor organization or business incubator for their start up. These applicants are intended to come to Canada to work in startup companies. More spots have been allocated under this program as a step toward addressing the lengthy wait times for applicants. Recognizing the long application wait times due to significant interest in the SUV program, IRCC will change the temporary work permit option for SUV applications and will allow them to apply for an open work permit for up to three years, rather than a one-year work permit that limits them to work solely for their own start-up. Work permits will also be available to each member of the entrepreneurial team, in comparison to the current policy, where only members of the team who are identified as essential and urgently needed in Canada can apply.

The announced improvements to the SUV program appear to be counterproductive to the intention of the program. It remains to be seen how allowing these entrepreneurs to work for any company, as opposed to exclusively working for their own start-up will assist the start-up in succeeding.

Hopefully, as more details of these measures become available, the economic benefit to Canadian businesses will become more apparent. In the meantime, Canadian businesses shouldn’t rely on these initiatives to assist them with challenging labour market conditions. Canadians instead will have to compete with the digital nomads and 10,000 H1-B holders for housing. Perhaps the Canadian Government hopes these tech workers will “like Canada enough”, that they will eventually apply to work for Canadian companies. This seems like a big leap of faith, especially if the workers continue to be paid in US currency at traditionally higher paying salaries.

If you have questions about any of these initiatives, please contact one of our Canadian immigration legal professionals by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; garciafialdini@cilf.ca.

2023 Off to a Crazy Start – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

As the first month of 2023 comes to a close, we at Corporate Immigration Law Firm (CILF) are shaking our heads. Some of the recent announcements are so surprising and shocking that we are left with few answers for our clients and certainly few ideas of what will come next. On the other hand, we are cautiously optimistic that processing times for some immigration business lines are starting to show signs of improvement.

Below is a summary of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

  •  Starting January 30th, IRCC will expand eligibility for Open Work Permits to spouses and dependent children of work permit holders at all skill levels. This is mostly a good initiative, but what about the spouses and dependent children of Canadian citizens and permanent residents?  Will IRCC finally treat spouses of Canadian citizens and permanent residents the same as spouses of foreign nationals working and studying in Canada and extend this initiative to them?
  • IRCC has extended and expanded the pilot program for out-of-status construction workers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) by doubling the number from 500 to 1000. This is a very much needed initiative but why not extend it outside of the GTA where it is equally, if not harder to recruit workers due to limited housing and more extreme weather conditions?
  • Canada and the United States have reached a deal on Nexus application backlogs this month. Nexus is a trusted traveler system. The backlog was created when Nexus offices suspended in-person interviews during the pandemic and then did not re-open due to a dispute over legal protections for US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers who work in Canadian Nexus offices. The Americans wanted the same protection for these CBP officers as the protections enjoyed by Preclearance CBP officers at Canadian land crossings and airports. A workaround has been announced whereby applicants can complete the in-person interviews in two stages. The first at a Canadian enrollment centre and then at a US Preclearance office at one of eight airports.
  • Backlogs at Passport Offices have been eliminated and apparently it is business as usual after months of chaos with lineups stretching around government buildings. However, recently approved permanent residents aren’t so lucky and are facing huge delays in issuance of PR Cards, leaving them grounded and unable to travel outside of Canada for 180 days. Perhaps the passport offices should take over production and distribution of PR Cards that are an essential travel document for permanent residents.
  • Express Entry draws continue bi-weekly and the cut-off for the comprehensive ranking score to receive an invitation to apply continues to fall. Since draws resumed in the summer of 2022 the cut-off has fallen from 557 to 490. Additionally, processing times of recently filed express entry applications appears to have returned to pre-pandemic times of six or less months for most applications.
  • Applications for temporary resident visas (TRVs) are seriously backlogged and many Canadian missions abroad are reporting delays of well over six months. This is creating havoc for families desperate to reunite after pandemic travel restrictions and hardship for families wanting to attend special events and travel for humanitarian and compassionate reasons, such as funerals and end of life situations. These delays are also negatively impacting businesses that have a need for their workforce to travel to Canada for a variety of business reasons and will have a chilling impact on the Canadian tourism industry as they try to rebound after the pandemic.  This has led to desperate and unprecedented ideas being discussed behind closed doors at IRCC, including the possibility of an amnesty for large groups of pending TRV applicants and/or a policy to eliminate the criteria for a TRV, such criteria normally protect the Canadian public. An amnesty or elimination of the said criteria will almost certainly lead to increase in Canada of asylum claims, humanitarian and compassionate applications, and enforcement cases, all the while draining government resources already stretched within IRCC, the Refugee Board, the Federal Court and Canada Border Services Agency. The government needs to look at other means to use resources efficiently and other policies that might eliminate redundant applications that drain government resources. The integrity of the immigration system should not be compromised when there are other options to improve or reduce backlogs. To find out more, check out the article below published by the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA): https://cila.co/cila-statement-on-waiving-eligibility-criteria-for-temporary-resident-visas/
  • On January 1, 2023, The Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act (“the Act”) came into force, restricting foreigners from buying homes in Canada. In effect the Act prohibits executives and other foreign talent, who plan to move to Canada with their families, from buying a home until they have worked in Canada for at least three years. Given the critical skills shortages, this restriction will place Canada in an uncompetitive position compared to other countries. The Act also creates issues for companies that use relocation companies to facilitate movement of talent across international borders. Typically, relocation companies purchase and resell executives’ homes to speed up a move, but as non-Canadian, they are also banned from conducting such property transactions. The Act will likely cause more harm than benefit given that only 2.2 percent of residential property in Ontario is owned by foreign nationals. This Act is in direct contradiction with the government’s goal to admit 1.5 million new immigrants in the next three years, so it appears clearly political and definitely the ugliest of January’s immigration announcements.

If you have questions about any of these initiatives, we are happy to advise. Our Canadian immigration legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; garciafialdini@cilf.ca.

Family of Foreign Workers Allowed to Work – But What About the Spouses of Canadian Citizens of Permanent Residents of Canada??

It’s been nearly a decade since Immigration Refugee Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) ran a pilot program that allowed the dependent children of high-wage foreign workers in certain provinces to work while in Canada.  Last Friday, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced a three staged plan to allow family members of numerous foreign workers to work in Canada, including working-age children of the foreign workers.  Prior to this announcement, only the spouses of foreign workers working in high-skill occupations were eligible for open work permits.

These new temporary measures will be introduced in three phases.

Initially family members of workers coming to Canada through the high-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program will be able to apply for a work permit. This is certainly welcomed news for many, not the least of which are employers trying to recruit top talent to Canada and employers trying to fill job vacancies.  One obstacle to attracting top talent for many employers, has been the fact that prospective foreign workers with teenage children, in the past would not be able to provide their accompanying children with the opportunity to gain work experience; integrate with other youth in the community with part-time jobs; or have the ability to earn their own spending money or save for post-secondary costs. This was certainly a drawback to a foreign national considering accepting a position in Canada and an obstacle for Canadian recruiting personnel in a tight labour market.

Phase 2 will aim to expand the measure to the family members of workers from the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, but only following consultations. Finally, Phase 3 will first include consultation with agricultural partners and stakeholders to assess operational feasibility for expanding this program to family members of agricultural workers.  Given the consultations that still have to be completed, and the historical treatment of low-waged applicants as persons that are not genuine temporary residents,  it is difficult to predict when this program might be implemented and how beneficial it will be since there is no immediate plan to issue work permits to those family members already in Canada or those abroad that might want to join their spouses in Canada.

Despite this announcement improving the well-being of family members accompanying foreign workers to Canada, it highlights the inequality, unfairness, and illogical situation that the spouses of Canadians and Permanent Residents are not afforded an immediate work permit when they come to Canada to join their Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse.  Instead, the spouse of Canadian citizens and permanent residents must be sponsored as permanent residents, a process that typically takes about 12 months. In comparison the spouses of foreign workers and foreign students are eligible to apply for open work permits at the time that their spouse applies to come to Canada.   Why is this?  Simply put IRCC want to ensure the relationship between the spouse and the Canadian citizen/permanent resident is genuine. In other words, IRCC presume the spouses of Canadian citizens/permanent residents have entered into a marital or common law relationship with the Canadian citizen/permanent resident to gain a benefit under the immigration legislation, but IRCC don’t seem to have the same bias against spouses of foreign workers. For years, IRCC have turned a blind eye to the emotional and often financial hardship imposed on spouses of Canadian citizens/permanent residents caused by the lack of a policy to facilitate these spouses entering Canada as temporary residents and the ability to work in Canada while a sponsorship application is processed. The rationale seems to be that IRCC is concerned a policy to support spouses of Canadian citizens/permanent residents would trigger a floodgate of “bogus marriages” and that once in Canada it would be difficult to remove the spouse should the relationship be found not to be genuine.  Yet, every year IRCC allows thousands of spouses of foreign workers to come to Canada and work, without first scrutinizing the bon-fides of their relationship to the foreign worker.

Spouse of Canadian citizens and permanent residents can only apply for an open work permit after a spousal sponsorship application has been filed and only if the application is processed in Canada. Often the work permit takes months to be issued. The represents a loss of potential income tax and opportunity to fill labour gaps, not to mention the financial and emotional hardship to the Canadian family. Further, many spouses of Canadian citizens/permanent residents cannot even secure a temporary resident visa (“TRV”) to come to Canada as a mere visitor to mitigate the emotional and financial hardship of separation. Routinely applications for TRVs by spouses of Canadian citizens/permanent residents are refused by IRCC on the basis that the spouse is not a genuine temporary resident because the spouse has an intent to come to Canada permanently to reunite with a Canadian spouse.

Could the next announcement, from Minister Fraser, finally address this inequality so that the spouses of Canadian citizens/permanent residents are finally treated the same as spouses of foreign workers?

If you would like to meet with one of our Canadian immigration law professionals to discuss your family members’ eligibility to work, or any other immigration needs, we are happy to advise. Our Canadian immigration legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; garciafialdini@cilf.ca.

New Occupations Eligible for Express Entry and Some Occupations Now Ineligible

On Wednesday November 16th, 2022, the Honorable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), announced the implementation of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 for immigration programs managed under the Express Entry system. The NOC system is used by IRCC to evaluate the occupational eligibility of applicants, breaking down the level of skill of each occupation to reflect their level of Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities (TEER). With this transition, 16 occupations will become eligible for Express Entry, while three occupations become ineligible. Below are the “Winners” and the “Losers”.

The occupations being added are:

  • Payroll administrators;
  • Dental assistants and dental laboratory assistants;
  • Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates;
  • Pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants;
  • Elementary and secondary school teacher assistants;
  • Sheriffs and bailiffs;
  • Correctional service officers;
  • By-law enforcement and other regulatory officers;
  • Estheticians, electrologists and related occupations;
  • Residential and commercial installers and servicers;
  • Pest controllers and fumigators;
  • Other repairers and servicers;
  • Transport truck drivers;
  • Bus drivers, subway operators and other transit operators;
  • Heavy equipment operators;
  • Aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors;

The occupations being removed are:

  • Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness;
  • Tailors, dressmakers, furriers and milliners,
  • Other performers.

Those with a profile in the Express Entry pool will need to update it with the new code, as the Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades and Express Entry-linked PNP streams will all use the new system.

In explaining the purpose of these changes, Minister Fraser claimed that “We are better positioned to tackle labour shortages proactively and grow our economy with a stronger, skilled workforce”. Using the new NOC categories will allow Canada to bring in global talent in high-demand sectors like health care, construction, and transportation. This transition makes good on the Minister’s commitment to expand pathways to permanent residency for temporary workers as more jobs will become eligible for the programs managed under Express Entry.  However, it remains to be seen how this will impact those already in the Express Entry pool waiting to receive an invitation to apply. It can’t be good news that there will be more competition in the pool, especially for those that have already been waiting for an invitation during the pandemic when processing slowed and then paused.

If you would like to meet with one of our Canadian immigration law professionals to discuss your Express Entry eligibility or existing profile, or any other immigration needs, we are happy to advise. Our Canadian immigration legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; garciafialdini@cilf.ca.

Parent and Grandparent Program to Resume Application Invitations This Week

Interested in bringing a parent or grandparent to Canada anytime soon? The wait might be longer than you think. On Tuesday October 13th, 2022, MP Sonia Sidhu, on behalf of the Honorable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, announced that the Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP) is starting up again this week and will run in almost identical fashion to how the intake program ran in 2021.

To account for the number of interest-to-sponsor forms remaining in the pool of submissions from 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will only be sending invitations to apply to PGP to 23,100 randomly selected potential sponsors from the 2020 pool, rather than opening a new interest-to-sponsor form. Of the 23,100 interested sponsors, the IRCC will accept up to 15,000 applications, which equates to the IRCCs sponsorship goal under the Parents and Grandparents Program this year.

With invitations being sent out over the course of 2 weeks, anyone who submitted an interest-to-sponsor form in 2020, but who did not receive an invitation to apply in January 2021 or September 2021, is encouraged to check the email account they provided when they submitted their interest.

As part of the IRCCs commitment to modernize Canada’s immigration system, all those invited to apply to PGP ought to submit their application through the new Permanent Residence Portal or the Representative Permanent Residence Portal. By allowing all applications to be submitted via an online application-based model, the IRCC hopes the new portal will speed up and simplify the application process.

Considering that many potential sponsors may have experienced financial difficulties over the past three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC will continue to use a lower income requirement for the sponsorship of parents and grandparents. This means that for the 2020 and 2021 tax years, the income requirement for sponsors will be the minimum necessary income—as opposed to the minimum necessary income plus 30%.

In conjunction with the sponsor’s usual yearly income, regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits and temporary COVID-19 benefits (i.e., Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)) are allowed to be included towards the sponsor’s income. This interim measure is in place to ensure that sponsors and applicants are not unfairly penalized for temporary loss of sponsor’s income due to the pandemic.

If you are lucky enough to receive an invitation, it is strongly recommended you seek legal advice to ensure your application is prepared and filed correctly, since the opportunity to sponsor is unlikely to present itself again soon. This truly is a lottery.

If you are not invited to apply to PGP this year, but you wish to reunite with your parents and grandparents in Canada, you may want to consider having your parents or grandparents apply for a Super Visa—a multiple-entry visa that is valid for 10 years. As of July 4, 2022, the Super Visa was updated to allow super visa holders to stay in Canada for up to 5 years at a time, including the option to extend one’s visa by up to 2 years at a time without leaving the country.

Ultimately, we recognize that there’s no easy option for folks wishing to reunite with their parents or grandparents in Canada in a timely manner. The estimated 37 months processing time is not ideal; however, the Super Visa is another viable and promising option for many folks, which in many cases, is worth exploring. Given the strong interest in the program, the IRCC will hopefully re-assess its intake numbers to facilitate increased family reunification in the coming years.

If you would like assistance with a sponsorship application or super visa, please contact one of our Canadian immigration law professionals to discuss the Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP), or any other immigration needs, we are happy to advise. Our Canadian immigration legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; garciafialdini@cilf.ca

International Students Encouraged to Solve Canada’s Growing Labour Shortage

On Tuesday, October 7, 2022, the Honorable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), announced the temporary lifting of the 20-hour-per-week cap on the number of hours that eligible post-secondary students are allowed to work off-campus, while school is in session.

Beginning November 15, 2022, at 12:00am ET until December 31, 2023, at 11:59pm ET, international students who are residing in Canada and who have off-campus work authorization on their study permit will no longer be restricted by the 20-hour-per-week rule. According to a news release posted by the office of the Minister, “Foreign nationals who have already submitted a study permit application, as of today, will also be able to benefit from this temporary change, provided their application is approved”.

Notably, the interim measure does not include a new limit on the maximum number of hours a student can work. With that being said, the Minister assured that this policy change is not a signal to students to compromise their studies by working more hours than they can commit; rather, students should continue to work as many hours as they are able to.

In explaining the purpose of this interim amendment, Minister Fraser claimed that the benefits are two-fold: the measure will allow international students to have greater opportunity to gain valuable work experience in Canada and will increase the availability of workers to sustain Canada’s post-pandemic economic growth. With more than 500,000 international students already in Canada available to potentially work additional hours, the IRCC claims that “this temporary change reflects the important role international students can play in addressing our labour shortage”.

Minister Fraser continued by stating that the IRCC is also beginning a pilot initiative this month to automate the processing of study permit extensions. The test will feature a select sample of candidates who may have their extended study permit processed much faster through the automated system. Since all applicants have previously been approved to study in Canada, the sorts of applications covered in this pilot have a consistently high acceptance rate. If the pilot program proves to be successful, it will be expanded to help reduce processing times and allow officers to focus on more complex applications.

While the amended policy may be very good news for employers seeking additional employees, there are many reasons to caution employers against hiring international students beyond 20-hours-per-week. First, one must ask who this policy benefits; is this amendment really in the best interest of the students? Or is it purely about combatting labour shortages and a fast and easy way for employers to tap into talent to address economic concerns caused by the pandemic?

With students working more hours, while taking a full-course load—as required by their study permit—students may be tempted to enroll in easier courses just to graduate and eventually apply for residency. With the cost of living and tuition for international students reaching unprecedented levels across Canada, international students may be led to offside their terms of study so that they can work more hours to meet their financial needs. In turn, this could place their future for immigration status in Canada at risk. This in turn could indirectly hurt employers who may have invested significant resources in training these students.

According to Statistics Canada, labour shortages are most acute in healthcare and social assistance industries, as both sectors currently have the largest need for labour of any sector in the country—representing 1 in 7 job vacancies in Canada. Considering these areas require years of education and specialized training, international students will not likely be able to meet this growing need. Healthcare employers are looking for graduates with high specialized skills and experience; meaning, there’s a mismatch in the labour needs and the labour opportunities created by the aforementioned interim measure.

Ultimately, the socio-economic structures in place may lead international students to fail; full-time jobs may detract students from their studies and make them less attractive to employers in the long-term. Make no mistake; this is not to say international students are at fault if they make the decision to take advantage of this interim measure by working more hours and dumbing down their courses. The onus is on the Canadian government to enact policy changes that serve Canadians, without creating more opportunities for abuse of vulnerable folks. Employers need to be mindful of relying on a student work force to meet their needs for full-time positions. The short-term benefits may not outweigh the long-term consequences.

If you would like to meet with one of our Canadian immigration law professionals to discuss this new interim measure, or any other immigration needs, we are happy to advise. Our Canadian immigration legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; garciafialdini@cilf.ca

It’s Official! Canadian COVID-19 Border and Travel Regulations to End Effective October 1

Today, the federal government announced the removal of all COVID-19 entry restrictions, including testing, quarantine, and isolation requirements for anyone entering Canada, effective October 1, 2022. The removal of COVID-19-related border regulations means that all travelers will no longer need to provide proof of vaccination when entering Canada, nor wear masks on planes and trains.

Beginning October 1, 2022, at 12:00am EST, all travelers, regardless of citizenship, will no longer be required to:

  • Submit public health information through the ArriveCAN app or website;
  • Provide proof of vaccination;
  • Undergo pre- or on-arrival COVID-19 testing;
  • Carry out COVID-19-related quarantine or isolation;
  • Monitor or report if they develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 upon arriving to Canada;
  • Wear masks on planes and trains;
  • Provide pre-board tests, proof of vaccination, and submit public health information through the ArriveCAN app or website to board cruise ships.

Notably, this also means that all travelers who entered Canada in the 14 days prior to October 1, 2022, at 12:00am EST, will not be required to complete the remainder of their quarantine or isolation, or complete their testing requirements.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Monday’s decision to drop the order-in-council regarding COVID-19 travel mandates is not a sign that the pandemic is over; rather, the decision was driven by modelling that indicates Canada has largely surpassed the peak of the Omicron wave, Canada’s high vaccination rates, lower hospitalization and death rates, as well as high availability and use of vaccine boosters, rapid tests, and treatments for COVID-19.

The upcoming COVID-19-related border and travel regulation changes will have a major impact on the Canadian economy as travel restrictions have a direct impact on the tourism industry, as well as the industries that produce inputs used by the tourism industry. For employers, these changes mean fewer cross-border staffing considerations with respect to applications. Employers will be able to send or relocate to Canada their best talent, as opposed to only sending talent that is vaccinated. Given labor shortages in so many industries, removing this barrier to entry to Canada is definitely good news.

Canada’s move to not renew the order-in-council regarding COVID-19 restrictions is a hopeful sign that the pandemic is nearing the end. However, for some, the move feels long awaited as the decision comes months after many other countries including the United Kingdom and Australia lifted such requirements. Looking forward, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is exploring the use of the ArriveCAN app as a tool for all travelers to use to simplify cross-border travel by providing travelers with easy access to information such as border wait times, and other self-serve functions.

If you would like to meet with one of our Canadian immigration law professionals to discuss how these requirement changes impact your business, or any other immigration needs, we are happy to advise. Our Canadian immigration legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; garciafialdini@cilf.ca

Employers Take Note – New Rules for Foreign Workers

Amendments to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations to strengthen protections for temporary foreign workers during their period of employment in Canada are scheduled to come into force on September 26, 2022. Specifically, these amendments apply to those employers seeking employer specific work permits for foreign nationals via the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (“TFWP”), which relates to LMIA-based work permits, or the International Mobility Program (“IMP”) which relates to LMIA-exempt work permits.

Summarized below are highlights of the upcoming changes:

  • Employers will be required to provide a signed copy of the employment agreement to the foreign worker, which is drafted in the foreign national’s choice of either French or English, that is signed and dated by both the worker and the employer and that includes the same details of the occupation, wages and working conditions that will be provided to IRCC in connection with the work permit application. For IMP based work permit applications, this must be done before the employer provides the details of the occupation, wages and working conditions to IRCC via it’s Employer Portal.
  • Employers will be required to provide temporary foreign workers with information about their rights in Canada on or before their first day of work as well as making this information easily accessible to the foreign worker in the workplace throughout their period of employment without additional cost to the foreign worker and without them needing to go through the employer to obtain it. The information can be provided in a physical or virtual location such as a break room wall or the company website. Information on workers rights can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/know-your-rights-worker-international-mobility-program.html It is recommended that employers consider providing this information to the foreign worker when providing them with the employment agreement.
  • Employers must provide a workplace that is free of abuse, including reprisal. The definition of abuse in the regulations will be amended to encompass reprisal by or on behalf of an employer against a foreign worker because the foreign worker reported employer non-compliance or cooperated with an employer compliance inspection. Reprisal includes a disciplinary measure, a demotion, a dismissal, or any threat to take any such measures.
  • Employers are prohibited from charging or recovering, directly or indirectly, from the foreign worker, any fees related to recruitment either before or after the recruitment process. Employers must demonstrate that they have made best efforts to ensure any person acting on their behalf has not and will not charge or recover such fees by verifying this with the foreign worker
  • Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide access to health care services when the foreign worker is injured or becomes ill at the workplace.
  • Employers of LMIA based work permit holders will be required to obtain and pay for private health insurance that covers emergency medical care for their workers during any applicable provincial waiting period for eligibility.
  • IRCC will have expanded authority to receive information from third party institutions, and in the case of the IMP, to collect personal information from employers and employees.
  • An employer found to be noncompliant with one of the provisions will have a reduced period in which they must respond to the preliminary findings outlined by IRCC.
    • This provision is intended to encourage employers to resolve their noncompliant behavior in a timely manner, so they may avoid the possible penalties imposed by IRCC.
  • Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”) will be empowered to suspend LMIA processing requests for the employer found to be noncompliant with the program’s new requirements.

The recent pandemic has highlighted the precarious position of many individuals in the labour force, and especially that of Canada’s foreign workers who may be more vulnerable to potential exploitation due to their temporary status and their limited access to information on their workplace protections and rights under applicable federal, provincial, and territorial legislation. The amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations are intended to address gaps in worker protection, improve worker and employer awareness and strengthen program integrity.

Should employers have any questions regarding these changes, or any other immigration needs we are happy to advise. Our legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; garciafialdini@cilf.ca

Foreign Students Return to School – In Person or Online?

It’s time to start thinking about back to school for many foreign students. Throughout the pandemic special measures were put in place to permit foreign students to study online remotely while maintaining their eligibility for a post graduate work permit (PGWP).

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is extending a transition period to international students applying for study permits who are affected by delays and backlogs. The IRCC has recognized that some students’ applications may not be processed in time to begin their in-person studies for the Fall 2022 semester.

International students studying online overseas or those that submit a study permit application by August 31, 2022, will be permitted to complete their entire program online without impacting their eligibility for a PGWP.

Foreign students that opt for online studies or are forced to study online because their study permit is not approved in time for the school year, need to beware that there could still be some consequences. Specifically, there are temporary distance learning measures affecting students starting programs from September 1, 2022, to August 31, 2023. These students will be subject to the following:

  • Beginning Sept 1, 2023, all remote study completed abroad will subtract from the length of a PGWP regardless of when studies were begun, and
  • A maximum of 50% of credits earned may be completed outside of Canada to stay eligible for a PGWP.

Therefore, students affected by delays will not be penalized for completing their course remotely while they wait for their applications to be approved.

As the world transitions to life after Covid-19, the above pre-pandemic study requirements will be reinstated. Online remote study was offered in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, lenience was extended to students on the path to permanent residence. During this time, students’ eligibility for a PGWP would not be affected by completing 100% of their program online and outside of Canada. This policy appears to strike a balance of fairness, but some may argue that foreign students paying significant tuition should not be penalized at all for IRCC’s backlog.

If you would like to meet with one of our Canadian immigration law professionals to discuss post-graduation work permits, or any other immigration needs we are happy to advise. Our legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; guberman@cilf.ca; appleby@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca