Recently the Canadian government implemented changes to the processing of the LMIA-exempt work permits. One of the more affected categories is the Free Trade Agreement stream that for many years had a very flexible process. In many cases the applicants only had to go to the closest border or port of entry to obtain a work permit.
One of the first treaties that included a section for immigration was NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and for 21 years internally operated the same way to obtain work permits for professionals. Recently, the federal government, to prevent fraud and to create a filter that targets employers, decided to increase the requirements for corporations or employers before granting a permit under this or other Treaties.
Other similar treaties such as NAFTA are the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Chile, Canada and Peru and Colombia, etc.; they have to comply with these rules too. http://mariacampos.wpengine.com/tratado-de-libre-comercio-para-america-del-norte-tlcan/
As a matter of fact every permit that was LMIA-exempt, now will be processed in accordance with the following regulations:
- The job offer must be sent directly to CIC following a specific format
- Pay $230 CAD for the employer’s compliance fee. This can be reimbursed only if the job offer is cancelled before the issuance of the work permit. There are some exceptions for the fee payment.
Once the job offer is submitted to CIC, the employer must give a copy to the employee to process the work permit later on.
The principal purpose for these changes is to filter bogus job offers and to avoid that the employers that do not have an adequate legal structure to comply with the immigration law do not hire foreign employees. In the past, the LMIA-exempt work permit was not highly monitored.
The changes made to section 209.11 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations will include the following:
“An employer who has made an offer of employment to a foreign national referred to in subparagraph 200(1)(c)(ii.1) must, before the foreign national makes an application for a work permit in respect of that employment, provide the following information to the Minister by means of the electronic system that is made available by the Department for that purpose:
(a) their name, address and telephone number and their fax number and electronic mail address, if any;
(b) the business number assigned to the employer by the Minister of National Revenue, if applicable;
(c) information that demonstrates that the foreign national will be performing work described in section 204 or 205 or is a foreign national described in section 207; and
(d) a copy of the offer of employment made in the form made available by the Department.
The Immigration authorities established a mechanism to determine that the offer is genuine and that the documents provided are not fake. After submitting the job offer to CIC, if the officer in charge of granting the work permit has any doubt about the offer or the genuineness of the employer, she can reject the work permit. It is important to mention that these changes do not modify directly the International Treaties, only the process.