Citizenship and Immigration Canada has introduced heightened compliance measures and new requirements and fees for the International Mobility Program – the Labor Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) exempt work permit that includes intracompany transferees and permits issued under free trade agreements such as NAFTA. These changes took effect on February 21, 2015. The additional requirements introduced include the Offer of Employment form, request for more information about the sponsoring business or organization, and the employer compliance fee in the amount of $230, which must be paid online before the work permit application is submitted. As part of its “robust and vigorous” compliance efforts, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will conduct inspections at worksite and client site locations and will use the $230 compliance fee to offset the costs associated with conducting the inspections. Foreign nationals will still be required to pay the $155 work permit processing fee that was a requirement prior to the February 21 changes.
These new requirements are applied uniformly regardless of whether the LMIA exempt work permit application is submitted at a Port of Entry, Canadian Consulate or Vegreville. Moreover, foreign nationals and employers must abide by these new regulations regardless of the length of the foreign national’s anticipated employment in Canada. A fee of $100 will also be collected from open work permit applications.
The introduction of inspections means that employers will be required to retain accurate records, in a safe and accessible location regarding their employment of foreign nationals. It also means that the extra care and diligence will be required in the preparation of work permit applications, as the Citizenship and Immigration Canada will use this information as a guideline for verifying that foreign nationals are being paid the correct wage, performing the duties outlined in the application documents, etc. Employers will also have to consider implementing certain internal measures to ensure that the necessary protocols are in place and the staff is prepared for an unannounced inspection.
It remains unclear how these inspections will be conducted – whether they will be in person, by phone, or other means. While compliance through worksite inspections is not a new concept within the United States and United Kingdom immigration systems, it is a new development within the Canadian immigration landscape and many questions about the new requirements remain unanswered.