A primary objective of the Federal Government's 2012-2013
Economic Action Plan is ensuring that employers first look to the
domestic labour force prior to seeking Temporary Foreign Workers
(TFWs) to fill temporary labour shortages. The TFW program features
a LMO-exempt component, which allows the granting of work permits
without the labour market test.
One such LMO-exempt category is Intra-Company Transferees
(ICTs). The Government has developed a series of set categories of
ICTs which allow international companies to enhance competitiveness
in overseas markets. One of the categories that has been set is
"Specialized Knowledge ICTs".
On June 9, 2014, the Government of Canada released expanded
guidelines, effective immediately, for assessing work permit
applications under the ICT Specialized Knowledge category. The
assessment criteria has been modified to include a more exacting
definition of "specialized knowledge". There are also new
mandatory wage requirements for some ICTs (excluding those entering
Canada pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement or any
future or current Free Trade Agreements).
To qualify under the Specialized Knowledge category, a worker
must possess "knowledge at an advanced level of
expertise" as well as "proprietary knowledge of the
company's product, service, research, equipment, techniques or
management". The onus is on the applicant to show, on a
balance of probabilities, "a high degree of both proprietary
knowledge and advanced expertise." The applicant may satisfy
this requirement through the use of documentary evidence, which may
include, but is not limited to: a resume, reference letters, letter
of support from the company, job descriptions that outline the
level of training acquired, years of experience in the field,
degrees or certifications obtained in the field, list of
publications and awards (if applicable), and a detailed description
of the work to be done in Canada.
Proprietary knowledge is defined as company-specific expertise
related to a company's product or services. In order for an
applicant to demonstrate an advanced level of proprietary
knowledge, they must be able to prove one or both of the
Uncommon knowledge of the host firm's products or services
and its application in international markets; or
An advanced level of expertise or knowledge of the
enterprise's processes and procedures such as its production,
research, equipment, techniques or management.
Proprietary knowledge alone is not sufficient. The applicant
must also demonstrate an advanced level of expertise. This requires
specialized knowledge gained through significant and recent
experience with the organization and used by the individual to
contribute significantly to the employer's productivity.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada ("CIC") defines
specialized knowledge to be knowledge that is both unique and
uncommon. Therefore, by definition, it may only be held by a small
percentage of employees in a given firm. It is crucial for
specialized knowledge workers to therefore demonstrate that they
are "key personnel" within the firm, not merely highly
Should it be determined that the worker possesses the high
standard of specialized knowledge that is uncommon in a particular
industry, as described above, the salary or wage paid to said
worker should be consistent with such a specialist. Usually, a
specialized worker would receive an above average salary. As such,
a wage floor set at prevailing wage levels will be used to
establish a baseline for the assessment of the application. It is
important to note that non-cash per diems (such as hotels or
transportations that are paid for by the employer) are not included
in the calculation of the overall salary or wage. Only monetary
compensation paid directly to the employee are included.
An employer that is considering applying for an employee under
the Specialized Knowledge category should ensure that the applicant
can qualify under the new assessment criteria. For more details
regarding these guidelines, and clarification with regards to the
requirements, the CIC Operational Bulletin can be found here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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