Employer Immigration Obligations

Immigration in Canada falls under federal jurisdiction and is governed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of Canada (IRPA).

Foreign nationals, including Americans, can only work in Canada if they obtain a work permit in accordance with IRPA. Generally speaking, in order to obtain a work permit, an employer must first apply to Service Canada for a labour market opinion. In order to obtain the labour market opinion, employers must satisfy Service Canada that it has made concerted efforts to hire a Canadian to perform the job in question.

Not all American workers will require a labour market opinion. The following is a list of categories of jobs and workers for whom an employer would not have to obtain a labour market opinion.

  1. employees covered by international agreements such as NAFTA;
  2. entrepreneurs and intra-company transferees;
  3. spouses; and
  4. students

Employers should be aware that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has recently announced changes limiting the amount of time temporary workers can spend in Canada.

In some cases, employers may wish to bring employees into Canada permanently. There are three general categories for doing so under IRPA:

  1. family class;
  2. skilled workers; and
  3. business class (entrepreneurs and investors).

Applications under each category are very different and employers must consider which category properly applies before submitting an application.

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