Canada – December 2015 Immigration Updates

Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMP) Regime Now in Force (Reminder)

What has changed

As noted in our alert from July 13, 2015, as of December 1, 2015, the Government of Canada has taken the next step in implementing changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program with the introduction of Regulations that considerably increase the liabilities and penalties faced by employers who employ foreign nationals under Canada’s temporary work permit programs (including both Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) and LMIA-exempt categories).

Under the previous regulations, non-compliant employers were not liable for any monetary fines or penalties.  Employers were only liable to have existing Work Permits revoked, face a two (2) year program ban, and be placed on a publicly available list of ineligible employers.

Who is affected?
What to expect

  • All employers of Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada

Employers who employ Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) will continue to be subject to the possibility of an audit or inspection by government authorities to verify compliance with the conditions of Canada’s temporary work permit programs, such as receipt of wages and working conditions that are substantially the same as those set out in the job offer that supported the initial Work Permit application, and compliance with federal and provincial laws regulating employment.  Employers who are found to be non-compliant will now be subject to Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) or fines, which will be assessed according to a new points system.  The penalties under this point system will vary based on type and severity of violation, compliance history, size of business and completeness of the voluntary disclosure.   Employers will also face potential program bans ranging from two (2) years to permanent bars.  Employers deemed non-compliant will continue to be placed on a publicly available list of ineligible employers.

Importantly, under the new regulatory regime, penalties are assessed according to the number of TFWs who are affected by each infraction and are not limited to LMIA-based work permits and extend to such workers as those holding Free Trade or Intra-Company Transferee work permits.  Each infraction that affects each TFW will be treated as a separate violation potentially leading to cumulative fines of several thousand dollars for larger employers.  AMPs will be capped at a maximum of $1 million (Canadian dollars) per twelve (12) month period.

Employers who are in default of payments for any assessed fines will not be eligible for any temporary work permit programs until the fines are paid.  Employers may also face program bans of two (2), five (5) or ten (10) years for serious and/or repeat infractions.  The most serious infractions could lead to a permanent ban from either or both programs.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Emigra Worldwide has extensive expertise on compliance requirements with Canada’a temporary work permit programs, and can advise on the potential liability your company may face in addition to providing ongoing compliance services to ensure proactive measures are in place for the implementation of these new regulations.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.

Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) That Will Be Mandatory as of March 1, 2016 (Reminder)

What has changed

As a reminder to our alert from July 13, 2015, beginning March 15, 2016 travelers from non-visa required countries (not including U.S. citizens) arriving to Canada by air will be required to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).  Online Applications for the eTA became available on August 1, 2015 well in advance of program implementation next year. No electronic pre-screen process was required prior to the eTA.

Who is affected?
What to expect

  • Travelers from non-visa required countries arriving to Canada by air

Although the Government of Canada has stated that the vast majority of applications can be made and approved “in minutes”, some applicants and frequent travelers may elect to apply in advance of the March 15, 2016 implementation date once applications are available August 1, 2015.

The government has also recently announced the intention to expand the eligibility for the new eTA to low risk travelers from Brazil, Bulgaria, Romania and Mexico.   The expansion of the program to these nationalities will be limited to those who have held Canadian temporary resident visas in the past ten (10) years or who hold valid US non-immigrant visa who can now apply for an eTA instead of applying for new Temporary Resident Visa if travelling by air.

The eTAs will allow Canada to pre-screen travelers arriving to Canada by air for criminality, fraud and other factors affecting admissibility to Canada.  They will be valid for a period of five (5) years and linked to a specific passport.  The Government of Canada has stated that only a passport, e-mail address and credit card will be needed for the application.

Although affected travelers will need an eTA before entering Canada by air, the Government of Canada has stated that the eTA will smooth and quicken the entry process for travelers upon arrival to Canada.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.

New Selection System for the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program

What has changed

For the upcoming 2016 International Experience Canada (IEC) program, the government has changed the selection process that is no longer solely based on a “first-come/first-serve” system.   The bilateral agreements between Canada and participating countries that produce limited quotas on an annual basis under the IEC will now be managed through a selection pool system where all candidates apply to get selected based on their qualifications and the programs available per participating country.

Who is affected?
What to expect

  • International Experience Canada program participants

The three IEC program streams (Working Holiday, Yong Professionals and Co-op) will continue to be generally available to applicants between the ages of eighteen (18) and thirty-five (35) with work permits lasting up to two (2) years.  What has changed is with respect to the Working Holiday program which is in high demand in that the selection will be randomized.  Once invited from either category, candidates will have ten (10) days to accept and an additional twenty (20) days to submit their online applications.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Employers recruiting young professionals will have to evaluate the contingency options for a randomized and limited quota based system and how to attract the available talent.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.

The information above was provided by Emigra Worldwide, our global network partners, and relevant government authorities. The information herein is for general purposes only and not intended as advice for a particular matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work.