Four Guidelines for Employers to Keep in Mind When Hiring Foreign Skilled Workers in Canada

With the ongoing difficulty finding workers in some Canadian sectors—such as construction, engineering, and IT—employers are increasingly looking to hire foreign skilled workers. Before they do, however, these employers need to be aware of key guidelines and legislative requirements to ensure they don’t run afoul to immigration laws.

Firstly, if an employer has been approached by a foreign national for direct employment, they should examine the immigration documents of the prospective employee. If the individual does not hold a valid work permit or is currently working without authorization, the employer should not engage with them.

If an employer engages with a foreign national who does not hold a valid work permit or has worked without authorization while on a visitor status, it may put the employer at risk of facing penalties and legal consequences. The employer could face fines and may even lose their ability to hire foreign workers in the future. Moreover, the employer could be held liable for any costs associated with the removal of the unauthorized worker from Canada. Therefore, it is essential for the employer to verify the immigration status of prospective employees to avoid any legal implications and ensure compliance with Canadian immigration laws.

Secondly, employers who hire foreign nationals must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), unless the job offer is exempt from this requirement. The LMIA assesses whether there are any qualified Canadians or permanent residents available to fill the job position. The assessment is conducted by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in some cases. If the job offer is approved, it means that the government has determined there are no qualified Canadians or permanent residents available to fill the job position, and the employer may then proceed to offer the job to a foreign national. The foreign national must then apply for a work permit.

Thirdly, it is important to note an LMIA can be revoked or suspended if the employer has provided false or misleading information, or if new information has been provided that indicates the employment of a foreign national under the work permit is having or will have a significant negative effect on the labour market. Employers who have been found non-compliant after an inspection may also have their LMIA suspended.

Lastly, under s.124 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, it is illegal to employ a foreign national in a capacity in which they are not authorized. Employers who violate this provision may be subject to fines, imprisonment, or both, depending on the severity of the offense and additional consequences outlined previously. Therefore, it is important for employers to be aware of their obligations and comply with Canadian immigration laws to avoid such consequences.

For foreign nationals seeking more information on employer-specific work permits, eligibility and temporary public policy, click here.

If you are an employer in Canada currently hiring foreign nationals and require guidance on policies and compliance, please contact Bruce Harwood from our Immigration Practice Group.