Canada’s policy on foreign workers permits employers to recruit foreigners needed for the Canadian labour market. At the same time, it ensures that employers have considered Canadian citizens and permanent residents and that the entry of foreign workers will not adversely affect employment or career opportunities for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
Every person, other than a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, who seeks to come into Canada for the purpose of engaging in employment shall obtain employment authorization.
The process of obtaining an employment authorization requires two steps:
- Submitting an application for validation of an offer of employment to a Canadian Employment Center
- Submission of an application for the necessary visa to a Canadian Immigration Center.
Definition of Employment
“Employment” means any activity for which a person receives or might reasonably be expected to receive valuable consideration. Therefore, some activities may constitute employment even if the person performing the activity is not receiving financial compensation for the work or services involved.
Employment Authorization Exemptions
Regulation 19(1) allows certain persons to be employment authorization exempt. These individuals may enter Canada to work, or to carry on business or trade-related activities without the need to hold an employment authorization. These persons enter Canada to take up duties which are not related to the labour market, and they would enter regardless of the state of the economy or employment picture. They generally have occupations where international freedom of movement is deemed to be crucial, or they may represent a foreign company or organization which is not considered to compete with Canadian workers. The reasons that motivate their admission are either political, religious and/or trade/oriented.
Canada strives to protect employment opportunities for Canadian workers through a process of validation of an offer of employment. Validation by HRDC is a labour market process which determines that the employment of a foreign worker will not have an adverse effect on employment opportunities for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. It is normally accepted by visa and immigration officers as the basis to approve the issuance of an employment authorization, provided the foreign worker meets the qualifications needed for the job and the general requirements of the Immigration Act.
Employment Validation Exemptions
Regulation 20(5) recognizes that foreign workers need to be admitted for factors other than strict labour market consideration, such as to meet economic, cultural, social and humanitarian objectives. Regulation 20(5) defines six groups of validation exempt categories.
In general, the longer the duration of temporary stay, the greater the onus will be on the individual to provide evidence of temporary purpose at the time an application for an employment authorization or extension is made. Circumstances to be considered include:
- whether or not the temporary purpose can be defined clearly in terms of the activities being performed and the duration of stay
- whether or not another temporary purpose is identified after the original purpose for entry has been achieved; and
- Whether or not the employment is being used to circumvent procedures applicable to permanent employment (permanent validation) or permanent residence. This does not necessary preclude a person who has applied for permanent residence outside of Canada from being in Canada on an employment authorization.
There are certain limits on the duration of employment authorizations. Briefly stated, authorizations may be issued for:
- up to three years, except when limited by other pre-determined time frames
- one year in the case of prescribed group of persons
- various time frames depending on certain circumstances surrounding refugee claims.
The Immigration Act requires every immigrant and every visitor of a prescribed class undergo medical examination, it defines the two prescribed classes of visitors:
- those who will be working in certain designated occupations or
- those who are subject to the six-month rule applying to length of stay and previous country of residence.