Employers should pay careful attention to new IMP rules

Employers using foreign workers need to be aware of updated instructions to the new rules in Canada’s International Mobility Program, says Toronto immigration lawyer Robin Seligman.

“Employers now have to create their own portal,” says Seligman, principal of Seligman Professional Corporation. “It would be of assistance to have proper representation because it’s a new process.”

As of Oct. 26, employers need to use the employer portal to submit their Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) form, replacing the email submission method. The online portal process also allows employers under the International Mobility Program (IMP) to pay the necessary compliance fee.

“This updated process follows regulatory changes that came into effect in February which introduced new fees, a new form as well as compliance requirements,” Seligman tells “In announcing the regulations the government stated that one in four employers using temporary foreign workers would be inspected every year.”

The IMP compliance regime covers categories of work permits that are exempt from the LMIA process. That includes work permits issued under free-trade agreements including NAFTA and intra-company transfers.

Seligman points out that the whole concept of compliance that was ushered in earlier this year was meant to protect workers. However, “My concern is that the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction,” she says. “The situation has gone from one extreme, where there was no oversight, to a strict regime, where compliance is monitored through audits and breaches can result in penalties that can be as high as $1 million."

Failure to comply can also result in negative work permit decisions.

The new system requires an employer to register a foreign worker through an online portal. A compliance fee must be paid and the offer of employment form, including information about the employer and details about the position, must be submitted before the work permit application is filed.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada uses the information submitted in the application later on when conducting inspections intended to make sure employers are compliant with the new rules.

The requirements can be daunting and Seligman suggests employers seek advice to navigate the system to ensure they are following the proper procedures and are in compliance so that they can be successful in their employment of foreign workers. As well, “If employers fail to follow the new rules not only can they face penalties, but they can also be prohibited from hiring foreign workers and risk being put on a black list,” she says.

The whole process requires employers to ensure all the information they submit is accurate. Seligman says careful attention is required because there’s much more at stake now than there was in the past.

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