Canada: Immigration Update @ Gowlings - September 2006

Last Updated: October 16 2006

Edited by Bill MacGregor


  • About Immigration Update @ Gowlings
  • Hiring Foreign Nationals in Canada – An Immigration Overview
  • New Temporary Foreign Worker Units (TFWUs) Announced for Calgary and Vancouver
  • Canada's New "Simplified Application Process" for Skilled Worker Applications
  • Expansion of B.C.'s Provincial Nominee Program
  • Canadians Will Soon Require Passports to Enter the U.S.
  • Obtaining a Canadian Passport
  • U.S. May Start Fingerprinting Canadians with U.S. Work Visas
  • Updated Passport Rules Under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program
  • Carry-On Baggage Rules

About Immigration Update @ Gowlings

The ability to move personnel across borders and to recruit skilled workers from abroad is of increasing importance to many business operations. It is essential that companies and their personnel recognize and comply with applicable immigration laws. Immigration Update @ Gowlings, prepared by Gowlings Immigration Practice Group, provides information on corporate immigration matters, including new developments and changes that may affect your ability to move personnel across borders. Gowlings Immigration Practice Group offers a full range of immigration services and strategic solutions to clients. For example, we assist with executive transfers, and with obtaining business visitor status, work permits, temporary resident visas, permanent resident status and citizenship.

New Temporary Foreign Worker Units (TFWUs) Announced For Calgary And Vancouver

Effective September 1st, Immigration Canada has created, on a pilot basis, two new temporary foreign worker units. The Calgary unit will cover Alberta, and the Vancouver unit will cover British Columbia's Lower mainland. The TFWUs are intended to facilitate the entry of temporary foreign workers into Canada for situations where the foreign worker is exempt from Service Canada's labour market confirmation process. A TFWU has been in existence for several years in Montreal and deals with Quebec-bound foreign workers.

Further details at:

Canada's New "Simplified Application Process" For Skilled Worker Applications

As of September 1st, Immigration Canada has adopted a new "Simplified Application Process" for Federal Economic Class applicants, which includes foreign nationals seeking permanent resident status under the skilled worker category. New application forms have been developed. The forms and processing fees are initially filed so that that applicant obtains a place in the processing queue. Unlike the old "regular application process", the applicant's supporting documents are not forwarded until requested by the visa office. The simplified application process must be used after September 1st for all visa offices except the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo. Applications filed there will continue to use the "regular application process".

Further details at:

Expansion Of B.C.'S Provincial Nominee Program

British Columbia has announced the expansion of its provincial nominee program. This program facilitates the ability of certain skilled workers and economic immigrants destined for British Columbia to obtain Canadian permanent resident status. Foreign nationals who qualify under the B.C. PNP will obtain permanent resident status much sooner than applicants who apply under the Federal Economic Class.

News Release re: Expansion of B.C.'s PNP
Expansion of B.C.'s Entrepreneur program
B.C.'s Provincial Nominee Program Home Page

Canadians Will Soon Require Passports To Enter The U.S.

Under its Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, the U.S. will require Canadian citizens to present a passport to enter the United States when arriving by air or sea beginning January 8, 2007. Canadians entering by land will require a passport beginning January 1, 2008. Canadians who may need to travel to the U.S. should apply for their Canadian passport well in advance of January 8, 2007.

Information on U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
New U.S. Travel Document Requirements FAQs

Obtaining A Canadian Passport

For those Canadians who have not yet applied for a passport, information on the application process, and the application form, are set out at this link.

Passport Canada Website

U.S. May Start Fingerprinting Canadians With U.S. Work Visas

In July the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published proposed rules relating to the expansion of the US–VISIT program. If implemented, the US–VISIT program would be applied to Canadians holding U.S. work visas, such as L-1 (intra-company transferee category) and TN (NAFTA professional) work visas. The US–VISIT program is intended to track the entry and exit of foreign nationals. US–VISIT uses digital fingerprinting and other biometric identifiers. Canadians entering as business visitors or tourists would not be subject to US–VISIT under the proposed rule.

Washington Post Article on Proposed Changes to US-VISIT Program
Text of Proposed Rule re Fingerprinting Canadians

Updated Passport Rules Under The U.S. Visa Waiver Program

The U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows travellers from 27 countries to enter the United States for up to 90 days without requiring them to first obtain an entry visa. The VWP does not apply to Canadians (as Canadians do not require U.S. entry visas), but would apply to personnel travelling into the United States from Canada who are Canadian permanent residents or foreign workers based in Canada. As of October 26, 2006, any passport issued on or after this date by a VWP country must be an E-Passport for VWP travellers to be eligible to enter the United States without a visa. The various passport rules regarding travellers from VWP countries, and a list of VWP countries, may be found at the following link.

Visa Waiver Program Traveller's Guide re Passports

Carry-On Baggage Rules

In August new rules regarding carry-on baggage were adopted. Any employees travelling by air should be aware of these rules and should check for updates or changes to those rules prior to travelling. Below are links to the official government websites regarding carry-on rules and prohibited items for Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Transport Canada Rules on Carry-On Baggage
Changes Affecting Duty Free Carry-On Goods (Canada)
List of Prohibited Items from Canada Air Transport Security Authority
U.S. List of Prohibited and Permitted Items
U.K. Rules on Carry-On Baggage

Hiring Foreign Nationals In Canada – An Immigration Overview

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the immigration rules relating to hiring foreign nationals to work in Canada. There is a growing need in Canada for skilled workers. To fill skills shortages, companies may have to consider hiring foreign nationals. If you hire or use the services of a foreign national in Canada, you must consider immigration issues, and you must be prepared for the challenges of dealing with immigration authorities. The key is to deal with immigration issues on a proactive basis.

Canada's Immigration And Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)

IRPA and its Regulations affect your business operations, your human resource planning and your potential liability. For example, the legislation:

  • Affects your ability to hire foreign workers for positions in Canada
  • Has an impact on foreign service providers or business people wishing to come into Canada to deal with your company
  • Exposes you and your company to liability for breaches of the Act
  • Affects the ability of foreign national employees to acquire permanent resident status

Canadian Work Permit Rules

As a general rule, no person, other than a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, may work in Canada without valid authorization. So the first question to ask is whether or not a foreign national entering Canada requires a work permit.

"Work" is widely defined as "an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that is in direct competition with the activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market." If a foreign national is being hired to work in Canada, he or she will require a work permit.

After assessing the person and the purpose of the entry, and determining that a work permit is required, the next step is to determine whether there is any work permit category under IRPA, under an international agreement (such as NAFTA) or under any government programs (such as the IT Workers Program) that fits the situation. If there is not, the Canadian employer must first approach Service Canada (formerly HRSDC) to obtain a "confirmation" (or labour market opinion) allowing employment to be offered to someone other than a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. If a confirmation is obtained, it can then be used to obtain a work permit from Immigration Canada.

Generally, the goal is to avoid the confirmation process if possible. The reason for this is that it avoids the risk of Service Canada denying the confirmation request. Secondly, having to apply for a confirmation can delay the overall time frame for obtaining a work permit.

The application package for a confirmation is detailed and must be prepared with great care.

IRPA's Regulations set out the factors that Service Canada is to base its confirmation decision on, including:

  • Whether the work of the foreign national is likely to result in direct job creation or job retention for Canadians or permanent residents;
  • Whether the work is likely to result in the creation or transfer of skills and knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and permanent residents;
  • Whether the work is likely to fill a labour shortage;
  • Whether the wages and working conditions are sufficient to attract Canadian citizens or permanent residents;
  • Whether the employer has made reasonable efforts to hire or train Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Québec Bound Foreign Nationals

Foreign nationals hired to work in Québec may, in addition to a Service Canada confirmation, require a Certificate of Acceptance (CAQ) from Québec's Ministère de l'Immigration et Communautés culturelles (MICC) before a work permit can be obtained. This requires a separate application to MICC. Note that a CAQ is not required for Québec bound foreign nationals who qualify for NAFTA or intra-company transferee work permits (discussed below).

Other Work Permit Categories

There are a number of potentially useful confirmation exempt categories to consider when hiring a foreign national. These include:

1. Nafta Professional Category

NAFTA may be used by American and Mexican citizens. There is also a similar provision in the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement.

NAFTA lists over 60 professions that may be eligible for a work permit. The foreign applicant must usually have a university degree related to a listed profession, and the applicant must be entering to apply the skills of that profession. A one-year work permit, which is renewable, may be obtained.

Some professions listed under NAFTA include: computer systems analysts, engineers, scientific technicians, management consultants, medical and some allied professions, and many scientific categories such as chemist, geologist and biologist.

2. Intra-Company Transferees

Both NAFTA and IRPA have intra-company transferee provisions, which may be useful in transferring managerial or specialized personnel to Canada from a related foreign entity. Note that there are time caps which may limit the overall length of time that a foreign national may hold a work permit under this category – the time caps vary depending on the position and whether the application is made under NAFTA or IRPA.

The basic rules are:

  • the transferee must be an executive, manager or have "specialized knowledge" and must be transferring into such a position;
  • the applicant must have been with the related foreign entity abroad for one year out of the previous three years prior to the application;
  • there must be a proper relationship between the foreign entity and the Canadian entity receiving the transferee (for example, parent-subsidiary).

3. It Workers Program

Service Canada has made a blanket determination that certain software workers are in short supply in Canada. If a prospective foreign worker qualifies, a work permit is applied for without first having to obtain a job specific confirmation from Service Canada.

Seven types of software occupations are eligible: software developer; MIS designer; software products developer; embedded systems software designer; senior animation effects editor; multimedia software developer; and telecommunications systems designer. Detailed descriptions of each job type are set out and include minimum educational criteria, work experience, technical knowledge and salary levels that must be met. For example, one of the criteria is that candidates must have at least two years relevant work experience.

4. Post-Graduate Work Permit Program

Foreign students who graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution may apply for a post graduate work permit provided the employment is related to their post-secondary education. The application must be made within 90 days of written notification of graduation.

Work permits under this category will not be granted for a period of time longer than the length of the post-secondary program the foreign student was taking, which must be a minimum of eight months. The work permit may be valid for up to two years for students who have studied at and graduated from institutions outside of the greater Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver metropolitan areas, and who will be employed outside those areas. If those two criteria are not met, the validity period of the work permit under this program is limited to a maximum of one year.

Any extensions beyond the initial period would require a Service Canada confirmation or approval under another confirmation exempt category.

5. Spousal Employment Program

Spouses (including common law and same-sex spouses) of most foreign nationals working in Canada may apply for a work permit under the Spousal Employment Program. The principal foreign national must be working in a position that is at a higher skill level. Typically this includes management, professional occupations, and technical or skilled trades workers. This program may assist Canadian companies in their recruiting efforts, since accompanying spouses will generally be able to work in Canada.

Related Immigration Issues

Depending on the citizenship of the foreign national, an entry visa may also be required before the person may enter Canada. An entry visa must be obtained from a Canadian Visa Office outside Canada. If this is required, it may limit some of the processing options available as compared to foreign applicants who do not require an entry visa.

Foreign nationals who have lived in certain designated countries may require an immigration medical as a condition of entry. This requirement may delay the application process.

Beyond ensuring that the person is qualified for a particular work permit or immigration category, the foreign national must not otherwise be inadmissible for such things as a criminal conviction or prior entry refusals.

It is imperative to put together a strong application package when applying for a Service Canada confirmation or for a work permit. By ensuring that an application is well documented and complete, the likelihood of it being approved is significantly increased. The extent and content of the material included in the application package will depend on the work permit category and the particular circumstances of each situation.


Canadian companies may need to hire or engage foreign nationals to address their human resource needs. When recruiting foreign nationals, Canadian companies need to be aware of the applicable immigration rules, issues and options. When hiring a foreign national, it is also imperative to prepare strong application materials to support the immigration status being sought. Legal counsel can assist in assessing the work permit options and with preparing proper application packages.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
8 Nov 2016, Seminar, Ottawa, Canada

The prospect of an internal investigation raises many thorny issues. This presentation will canvass some of the potential triggering events, and discuss how to structure an investigation, retain forensic assistance and manage the inevitable ethical issues that will arise.

22 Nov 2016, Seminar, Ottawa, Canada

From the boardroom to the shop floor, effective organizations recognize the value of having a diverse workplace. This presentation will explore effective strategies to promote diversity, defeat bias and encourage a broader community outlook.

7 Dec 2016, Seminar, Ottawa, Canada

Staying local but going global presents its challenges. Gowling WLG lawyers offer an international roundtable on doing business in the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia. This three-hour session will videoconference in lawyers from around the world to discuss business and intellectual property hurdles.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.