Corporate Immigration Lawyers in Toronto
Our Toronto immigration lawyers work with corporate clients across multiple industries, assisting with recruitment strategies and corporate immigration needs. Questions about LMIA, Temporary Foreign Worker Program, IMP, and your big picture immigration strategy? Let’s talk about how we can help you grow your workforce efficiently and cost-effectively.
Corporate Immigration Services
Our immigration law firm assists businesses across all industry sectors with corporate immigration matters. Corporate immigration is a subset of immigration law that centres on the relocation, hiring, and retention of foreign workers.
We work with entrepreneurs, employers, and business owners for whom immigration applications, whether their own or their workers, need to be a strategic part of their business goals. We have a reputation for a big picture approach.
As business owners ourselves, we know what’s at stake for you in your immigration needs and compliance with immigration laws while building your workforce.
For entrepreneurs who already have a business footprint in Canada, we are conveniently located in downtown Toronto, at the center of the Canadian financial and business sectors.
Our immigration lawyers can assist your current or prospective employees with obtaining work authorization (work permits), and if necessary, help them transition to Canadian permanent residence status.
Corporate immigration streams fall under:
- the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Temporary Foreign Worker Program), or
- the International Mobility Program (IMP).
The International Mobility Program is driven by free trade agreements and Canada’s national interests. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is driven by specific labour market shortages and requires employers to go through the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application process.
There is often more than one option available and knowing which route to follow before starting the corporate immigration process is critical to achieving a successful outcome.
Book a consultation with one of our immigration lawyers today to discuss your corporate immigration needs and the options available to you and your foreign workers.
Both temporary and permanent economic immigration streams utilize the National Occupational Classification (NOC), a standardized system that defines and classifies every occupation presently found in Canada’s labour market.
The NOC was developed and is maintained by Employment and Social Development Canada in partnership with Statistics Canada. Statistic Canada’s website National Job Bank contains prevailing wage statistics, occupation specific regional employment outlooks and reports, and allows employer to advertise open positions.
The NOC provides information about the general educational credentials and/or training requirement as well as the job duties for each of the listed occupations.
The NOC should be utilized by employers with respect to either offers or confirmation of employment within the immigration context. It is also used by foreign nationals when submitting temporary and permanent residence applications. It is used by Service Canada in the course of the consideration of Labour Market Impact Assessment applications and is contained within every closed work permit issued under either the TFWP or IMP programs.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program refers to streams under which foreign nationals enter Canada on a work permit issued based on a positive (or neutral) LMIA. LMIA applications are adjudicated by Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”). Our law firm can assist with both Canadian work permits and LMIA applications.
The key factor assessed by ESDC when adjudicating the LMIA is the impact of employment on the Canadian labour market. This factor is assessed in light of labour market conditions, with the employer typically being required to conduct domestic recruitment efforts prior to the application being submitted.
While LMIA applications are typically submitted when an employer has identified a foreign national it wishes to employ (or continue employing), employers can also obtain blank pre-approval which can be used when a specific worker is identified. We have utilized this immigration strategy in industries with well-documented labour shortages such as tech and construction. It is also widely utilized in the agricultural sector and food production sectors.
Canadian employers participating in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are subject to immigration employer compliance reviews which can include both documentary requests and inspections. The employer compliance regime is not very transparent or business aligned.
The LMIA process is employer-driven which means that this application is submitted by the prospective employer, and it is quite technical and somewhat divorced from business reality.
Unless an LMIA requirement exemption applies, domestic recruitment is key to the LMIA process as employers must show that they have conducted recruitment efforts and were unable to hire a domestic candidate.
ESDC publishes Temporary Foreign Worker Program guidelines which amongst other things set out the recruitment requirements. While these requirements are not overly onerous, they are quite specific and we have yet to work with a corporate client whose independent and good-faith recruitment efforts complied with ESDC’s recruitment requirements. In other words, even if your company is certain that you cannot find a domestic candidate for the position, you will still likely have to go through LMIA specific recruitment efforts. If you are thinking of hiring or transferring a foreign worker, it is therefore very important to obtain a consultation with respect to your Canadian immigration options from an immigration lawyer at the very outset.
It is important to note that in addition to considering the impact on the labour market, ESDC officers assess the genuineness of the job offer by examining the following:
- Whether the employer is actively engaged in the business - is the company providing a good or service?
- Whether there is a reasonable employment need - is there a rational link between the business and the job offer?
- Whether the employer can fulfil the contract - the company’s financial situation?
- Past compliance with Federal, Provincial and Territorial laws that regulate employment and recruitment?
If the decision is positive or neutral, then an LMIA will be issued, allowing the prospective employee to apply for a Canadian work permit.
The Global Talent Stream pilot project falls within the scope of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and allows employers to obtain an LMIA through a new streamlined process that offers flexible criteria and formal recruitment requirements (domestic recruitment is still encouraged).
Under the Global Talent Stream program, Canadian employers can recruit highly-skilled foreign workers in occupations where there is a shortage of local Canadian talent. The program is divided into two categories:
- Category A. Requires the Canadian employer to collaborate with a designated referral party.
- Category B. Allows the Canadian employer to hire foreign nationals in designated occupations. The occupation list includes:
NOC 0213 – Computer and information systems managers
NOC 2147 – Computer engineers
NOC 2171 – Information systems analysts and consultants
NOC 2172 – Database analysts and data administrators
NOC 2173 – Software engineers and designers
NOC 2174 – Computer programmers and interactive media developers
NOC 2175 – Web designers and developers
NOC 2281 – Computer network technicians
NOC 2283 – Information systems testing technicians
Applications are typically processed in 10 business days. Canadian employers who are submitting their first application are required to submit a Labour Market Benefits Plan demonstrating how they will benefit the Canadian labour in exchange for being granted the right to participate in this pilot project. Labour Market Benefits Plans are industry-specific and can include recruiting minorities, creating co-op programs, and others. Work permits for LMIAs issued under this program have a two-week processing time.
Our immigration lawyers have helped companies with both initial and on-going LMIA applications under the Global Talent Streams, and have received great feedback about the program.
In comparison to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the International Mobility Program is comprised of pathways in which the presence of foreign nationals will enhance Canada’s broad economic interests, rather than fill specific labour shortages. The International Mobility Program is administered directly by IRCC which means that the prospective worker will be applying directly for a Canadian work permit without the employer having to go through the LMIA process.
While we generally try to utilize the International Mobility Program when possible, in some cases, obtaining an LMIA is preferable due to the worker being able to receive points with respect to his permanent residence application immediately upon an LMIA application being approved.
Some of the more common pathways under the International Mobility Program are discussed below.
The intra-company transfer category (“ICT”) allows international companies to temporarily transfer qualified employees to Canada, to improve the effectiveness of management, broaden Canadian interests, and improve the foreign company’s competitiveness in Canada. ICT work permits are LMIA exempt.
The entry of intra-company transferees is governed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and if applicable, supplemented by provisions contained in international trade agreements for citizens of signatory countries.
To qualify as an ICT, a foreign worker must meet the following criteria:
- be currently employed by a multinational company and be seeking entry to work at a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of that enterprise;
- be transferred in an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity;
- have been employed in a similar full-time position for a minimum of one year in the three years before coming to Canada; and
- comply with all immigration requirements for temporary entry.
A foreign national who is a citizen of any country may apply for an ICT work permit, so long as the applicant meets the requirements; there are no nationality restrictions under this provision.
There is no strict requirement for the foreign worker’s salary to be at or above the prevailing median NOC wage for the work location, but meeting this requirement is generally recommended.
ICT based work permit applications can be submitted for start-ups companies as well as fully operational Canadian entities.
Broadly, under this category, immigration officers are required to consider the impact that the foreign worker would have on Canada’s labour market and economy. IRCC officers have to consider whether the foreign national’s employment “would create or maintain significant social, cultural or economic benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents”.
According to IRCC policy, the term “significant” means important or notable. This category is therefore quite discretionary and as such, applicants must submit credible and objective evidence to support their claim that their employment will create a significant benefit for Canada. Officers may refer to the following factors when assessing whether a foreign worker’s presence in Canada will result in a significant social, economic, or cultural benefit:
- whether the worker has significant (i.e., ten or more years) full-time experience in the occupation sought;
- awards and accolades conferred on the worker;
- the worker’s membership in organizations requiring excellence of their members;
- whether the worker has judged or critiqued others’ work in the field of specialty;
- the worker’s scientific or scholarly contributions in the field;
- publications authored by the worker in academic or industry publications;
- whether the worker has been a leader in an organization with a distinguished reputation; and
- whether the worker is a francophone foreign worker who is entering an occupation under NOC skill type 0 (managerial occupations) or skill level A (professional occupations) or B (technical occupations or skilled trades), destined to work outside Quebec, and who was recruited through Destination Canada or other employment events coordinated with the federal government and francophone minority communities.
This category is popular with self-employed individuals, entrepreneurs, as well as those working in arts, culture, and sports. It is important to note that those self-employed in athletics or arts / cultural fields may also submit a permanent residence application under the self-employed Self-Employed Artists and Athletes stream. (More Info)
The business visitor category facilitates entry to Canada for individuals who intend to engage in business activities without directly entering the Canadian labour market. Business visitors do not require work authorization.
Examples of activities that can qualify under this category include:
- Attending business meetings, trade conventions or exhibitions
- procurement of Canadian goods and services
- activities of people providing after-sales services
The activities must be international in scope and the source of the foreign national’s remuneration must remain outside Canada, i.e., if a technician is entering to provide after-sales service, he must be paid by the foreign entity he is employed by.
The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) entered into force on July 1, 2020, replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Amongst other things, it contains numerous provisions for the movement and relocation of skilled workers between the signatory countries.
CUSMA maintains the four immigration categories of applications under NAFTA:
- business visitors (no work permit issued);
- intra-company transferees; and
- traders and investors.
The CUSMA professional category is by far the most popular stream we work with. Under this stream, professionals are business persons who enter to provide pre-arranged professional services - either as a salaried employee of a Canadian enterprise, through a contract between the business person and a Canadian employer, or a contract between the American or Mexican employer of the business person and a Canadian enterprise. Appendix 2 to CUSMA lists more than 60 occupations covered by the Agreement. Professionals enter to provide services in the field for which they are qualified.
We have assisted with applications under the CUSMA Traders and Investors category, to qualify, the employer must carry substantial trade in goods or services between the U.S. or Mexico and Canada or have committed, or are in the process of committing, a substantial amount of capital in Canada. Traders and investors must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity or one that involves essential skills.
It should be noted that there are differences between the business visitor category in CUSMA and the business visitor category in section 186(a) of the Regulations as under the CUSMA the visitor must be entering to attend to specific activities of commercial nature that are listed in an index to the treaty.
There are also some differences between the CUSMA ICT and the general ICT stream described above. The CUSMA ICT allows for a “recapture” of time spent outside of Canada. It is, therefore, important to keep track of all entries and exits if one wishes to utilize this provision.
The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) presents Canadian businesses with preferential access to and excellent growth opportunities.
Individuals in three main categories may qualify for entry to Canada using CETA:
- key personnel which includes:
- intra-corporate transferees;
- investors; and
- business visitors for investment purposes.
- contractual service suppliers and independent professionals;
- and short-term business visitors.
Applications can be processed at a Canadian port-of-entry or submitted from within Canada if they meet the requirements set out in section 199 of the Regulations.