Elimination of Labour Market Opinion Extension Applications
Service Canada has recently introduced changes to the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) application procedure. Effective April 27, 2009, employers wishing to extend the original period of an existing LMO must now submit a new LMO application. Previously, employers were able to submit an LMO Extension Application, which somewhat relaxed the requirements of a standard application. As a result of the elimination of Extension Applications, all employers, whether first-time applicants or applicants looking to renew a term, will now be treated the same.
Meeting Standard LMO Application Requirements
The elimination of Extension Applications means all applicants will be subject to the assessment criteria mandated by Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. Employers must advertise for Canadian candidates and meet national recruiting standards, whether or not there is an incumbent temporary foreign worker already in place.
Proof of Past Compliance
Returning applicants may be asked to prove compliance with wage and working conditions and terms of previous offers of employment to temporary foreign workers.
All employers are encouraged to apply early for LMOs, as processing may take upwards of four months.
New National Recruiting Standards for Labour Market Opinion Applications
On January 1, 2009, Service Canada introduced new national minimum recruitment requirements which apply to all Labour Market Opinion (LMO) applications.
The requirements are based on the National Occupation Classification (NOC) system. The requirements are:
1. For NOC skill level 0 or A occupations (management occupations and occupations usually requiring a university degree), employers must, in the 3 months prior to making the LMO application, either: (a) advertise on the national Job Bank for at least 14 calendar days; or (b) conduct similar recruitment activities consistent with the recruiting practices for the occupation.
2. For NOC B occupations (occupations usually requiring a college diploma or apprenticeship training), employers must: (a) advertise on the Job Bank for at least 14 calendar days in the 3 months prior to the application; and (b) the advertisement must specifically include the employer's name, business address and the wages being offered.
3. For NOC C and D occupations (under the Low-Skilled Program), employers must in the 3 months prior to making the application: (a) advertise on the Job Bank for a minimum of 14 calendar days; (b) conduct similar recruitment activities consistent with the practice within the occupation; and (c) demonstrate reasonable ongoing recruitment efforts to recruit from communities that traditionally face barriers to employment.
Service Canada's Directives include a narrow list of specific situations where recruiting efforts are not required.
Voluntary Employer Compliance Monitoring Initiative
Service Canada has introduced a new initiative that monitors employer compliance with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The stated purpose of this initiative is to strengthen the integrity of the program and allow employers to demonstrate good standing. The initiative is also aimed at helping employers gain a better understanding of their temporary foreign worker employment responsibilities.
Employer participation is voluntary. As of April 27, 2009, employers will note a new declaration section on the Labour Market Opinion Application form wherein employers may elect to participate in the monitoring initiative. While participation does not expedite the processing of an LMO Application, the compliant employer stands to benefit by receiving favourable proof of past compliance consideration when applying for subsequent LMOs.
Regional Occupations List Program Ends
As a result of Service Canada's new recruiting guidelines for LMOs referenced above, it has eliminated the Regional Occupations List Program. These lists were unique to each province, and identified "occupations under pressure," which were those occupations that include a recognized labour shortage. Now, employers will be expected to demonstrate recruiting efforts as set out in the new recruiting directives found above; they can no longer rely on these Regional Occupation Lists.
Changes to E-LMO Program
The Expedited LMO (E-LMO) Program is only available in B.C. and Alberta for employers seeking LMOs to hire foreign nationals in one of the 33 occupations listed under the pilot project. The 33 occupations are those considered to be difficult to fill by employers. Employers are now required to submit evidence of recruitment efforts and must complete a new questionnaire when they apply.
Changes to E-LMO Program
Tougher U.S. Entry Requirements at Land Ports of Entry
On June 1, 2009, the United States will introduce tighter rules for Canadian and U.S. citizens traveling by land into the U.S. Travelers must ensure that they have acceptable documentation to enter the U.S. by land. Passports or NEXUS cards are acceptable proof of citizenship. In addition, for entry by land or water (but not by air) the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) allows Canadians to use an enhanced driver's licence, which Canadian provinces have been, or will be, introducing.
New Citizenship Rules
In an effort to simplify citizenship rules, Immigration Canada recently introduced new amendments to the Citizenship Act. The new law, which came into effect on April 17, 2009, has three major changes:
1. Acquisition and Restoration of Citizenship
Upon the passing of the amendments, certain individuals who had lost citizenship or never gained citizenship as a result of the previous law, automatically and retroactively received citizenship. These individuals received citizenship at the date it was lost, or at birth, depending on the circumstances. While it is no longer necessary to apply for citizenship, these individuals are encouraged to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship as proof of their new status.
2. Citizenship for those Adopted Outside of Canada
Under the new law, children adopted outside of Canada by Canadian parents between January 1, 1947 and February 14, 1977, may apply for a grant of citizenship.
3. First Generation Limitation
To protect the value of Canadian citizenship for the future, the new law no longer allows Canadians to pass on their citizenship to endless generations born outside of Canada. Citizenship from a Canadian parent may now only be passed to one generation born outside of Canada.
To better understand who has been affected by the new citizenship rules, please consult CIC's website.
New Temporary Foreign Worker Recruiting Requirements in Manitoba
The Government of Manitoba has recently taken steps to strengthen and improve protections for temporary foreign workers. On April 1, 2009, the Worker Recruitment and Protection Act (WRAPA) and its regulations came into effect. WRAPA imposes new registration and licensing requirements on employers and third-party recruiters, and prohibits the collection of fees in relation to temporary foreign worker recruitment.
New Requirements for Employers
Employers within the province are now required to obtain a Certificate of Registration from the Government of Manitoba's Employment Standards Division. Registration may be completed online. An employer must submit its Certificate of Registration along with its Application for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) in order for the application to be processed. A Certificate of Registration is not determinative of a positive or neutral LMO.
New Requirements for Third-Party Recruiters
Third parties who assist temporary foreign workers in gaining employment or assist employers in the recruitment of foreign workers must obtain a licence from the Government of Manitoba's Employment Standards Division. Exemptions are made for government agencies and municipalities, individuals finding employees for their employers, and individuals who receive no fee to find employment for their family member. Third-party licences must be renewed annually. Application forms are available online.
Employer and Third-Party Liability for Fee Collection
WRAPA prohibits employers and third parties from charging fees to temporary foreign workers seeking or finding work. Employers are liable for fees directly collected and fees indirectly collected through an unlicensed third-party recruiter. Licensed third parties are also liable for fees collected.
Implied Status for Temporary Foreign Workers During Strike Situations
Between December 1, 2008 and May 31, 2009, CIC will be accepting applications from temporary foreign workers who are concerned their status will expire over the duration of a strike. Applications received are placed on hold for four months. During that time, applicants are granted implied status which enables them to remain in Canada while meaningful resolution to the strike is sought. It is expected that the expiry date of this pilot may be extended for a further term beyond May 31, 2009.
A temporary foreign worker who wishes to find a new employer or obtain secondary employment must follow the normal process of applying for a Labour Market Opinion and Work Permit.
Equality of Wage and Benefits in Unionized Environments
In an effort to protect the wages and benefits offered to temporary foreign employees, Service Canada recently introduced a policy mandating equality of pay and benefits offered to Canadians and temporary foreign workers in unionized work environments. Effective March 31, 2009, wage rates and benefits established under a collective bargaining agreement offered by an employer to Canadians must also be offered to temporary foreign workers. In certain circumstances, foreign workers will be entitled to a wage higher than the wage set out in the collective agreement.
Opportunities Ontario: Provincial Nominee Program
The Province of Ontario has introduced 'Opportunities Ontario: Provincial Nominee Program' to replace its pilot project. Like its predecessor, the new program allows Ontario employers to nominate individuals for permanent residency based on full-time, permanent employment within the province. Nominated individuals are able to circumvent the point system and fast-track their application for permanent residency.
The new and expanded program is a response by the province to growing employer demands for skilled workers. Immigration Ontario has now allocated 1,000 nominations under the program instead of 500. Individuals are nominated as either foreign workers or international students studying in Canada. The list of eligible occupations for foreign workers has been eliminated. Also eliminated is the requirement that international students receive a job offer related to their area of study.
The new program sets out a new processing fee structure. For more information, please consult Ontario Immigration's website.
OHIP Extends Coverage Eligibility to Temporary Foreign Workers
On April 1, 2009, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) extended its eligibility rules to offer coverage to temporary foreign workers with open work permits and their families. To qualify, OHIP requires temporary foreign workers:
- hold a work permit valid for at least six months;
- have a formal agreement in place to work full-time for an employer situated in Ontario. The agreement must include the employer's name, the occupation, and state the foreign worker will be working for at least six consecutive months; and
- reside in Ontario for at least 153 days in any 12-month period.
Eliminating the Return to Place of Permanent Residency Requirement in Temporary Foreign Work Permit Renewal Applications
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has eliminated the return to place of permanent residency requirement imposed on temporary foreign workers employed under the Pilot Project for Hiring Foreign Workers in Occupations that Require Lower levels of Formal Training. Prior to the amendment, temporary foreign workers employed for 24 months in Canada could only renew their work permit after returning to their place of permanent residency for a minimum of four months. The requirement served to facilitate continued ties to one's place of permanent residency.
Now, foreign workers will not have to meet the return to place of permanent residency requirement so long as their application for renewal is submitted prior to the expiration of their work permit. These individuals will receive implied status during the time their application is processed by CIC. A foreign national who does not file an application to renew his or her work permit prior to its expiration will be prohibited from working until their status has been restored.
Croatian Visitor Requirements Lifted
In an effort to improve ties with Croatia, Canadian Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) has eliminated the requirement for Croatian visitors to Canada to obtain a temporary resident visa. CIC recorded 3,699 temporary visas issued to Croatian visitors in 2008. It is hoped the removal of the visa requirement will facilitate travel for Croatian citizens to Canada
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