Hiring Foreign Workers in Canada: Understanding the Basics

Hiring Foreign Workers in Canada: Understanding the Basics

By Nikki LaFleche

However, it is important for employers to understand the rules and regulations that govern the hiring of foreign workers to ensure compliance and avoid any legal issues. In this article, we will take a closer look at the process of hiring foreign workers in Canada, including the rules for hiring someone on a work permit, the difference between open and closed work permits, and the limitations of working on a student work permit. We will also explore the employer’s obligations to someone on a permit, including the required number of working hours per week to maintain the permit, and provincial nominee programs.

Rules for Hiring Someone on a Work Permit

When hiring someone on a work permit, there are several rules that employers must follow to ensure they are not violating any immigration laws.

Firstly, the employer must have a valid Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before hiring a foreign worker. A LMIA is a document issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that demonstrates the need for a foreign worker to fill a job opening and that no Canadians are available to do the job. However, there are certain exempted jobs and categories of foreign workers that may not require a LMIA for work permits.

The employer must also offer a job that matches the description and wage that was outlined in the LMIA application. If an employer changes the job description or the wage, the employee may be at risk of losing their work permit, and the employer may be fined.

The Difference between Open and Closed Work Permits

A work permit is issued to a foreign worker based on the type of work they will be doing in Canada. A closed work permit is job-specific and restricts the employee to working for the employer who sponsored their work permit. Open work permits are not job-specific and allow foreign workers to work for any employer in Canada, with some exceptions.

Open work permits are generally issued in certain situations, such as for spouses or common-law partners of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, or to individuals who have applied for permanent residence from within Canada. Employers should inquire about the type of work permit an employee holds before hiring them to ensure that they have the necessary authorization to work for the company.

Limitations to Working on a Student Work Permit

Foreign students are allowed to work in Canada while studying under the Student Work Permit program. However, there are limitations to the number of hours they are allowed to work each week. International students can work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during the school year and full-time during scheduled breaks, such as winter and summer holidays.

It’s important to note that students studying in certain programs may not be eligible to work off campus at all, so employers should confirm that the student has been cleared to work before hiring them. 

Employers should also ensure that the student maintains their status by only allowing them to work the allowed number of hours per week as per their permit regulations.

Employer Obligation to Someone on a Permit

Employers who hire foreign workers in Canada have specific obligations to maintain compliance with immigration regulations. One of the most important obligations is maintaining the employee’s work permit, which depends on their work hours.

For most foreign workers with a permit, the employer must ensure that they work a minimum number of hours per week. This requirement varies but is typically 30 hours per week or more for most work permits. Falling below the required hours may result in the worker losing their permit and potentially being removed from Canada.

Employers are also required to comply with labour laws and Employment Standards, such as minimum wage, overtime, and working hours, and to ensure that foreign workers are treated fairly in the workplace. In addition, employers must provide the necessary training and resources to ensure that foreign workers are able to perform their jobs safely and effectively.

Provincial Nominee Programs

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are a way for Canadian provinces and territories to attract and retain foreign workers to meet their specific labour market needs. PNPs are designed to help employers address labour shortages in key sectors, such as healthcare, technology, and agriculture.

Each province and territory have its own PNP, with different eligibility criteria depending on the job market and the economic needs of the region. Employers looking to hire foreign workers in a specific province or territory can explore their respective PNP programs to find qualified candidates.

In conclusion, hiring foreign workers in Canada can be a benefit for both employers and employees. However, it is important for employers to understand the rules and regulations that govern the process. By complying with immigration and labour laws, treating foreign workers fairly, offering adequate job opportunities, and exploring PNPs to fill labour shortages, employers can successfully hire foreign workers while helping to stimulate the growth of the Canadian economy. 

Nikki LaFleche, CPHR, has over a decade of human resources experience in Indigenous Child Welfare where she created and continually improved the HR Department. Nikki received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in business, from the University of Manitoba in 2012, and her post-graduate certificate in Human Resources Management (hons) in 2015. Nikki has been a chartered professional in human resources since 2018. She is passionate about developing positive, inclusive, and effective work environments where people can personally and professionally flourish. Nikki finds it rewarding to support organizations in creating ethical and engaging workplaces where employees feel connected, inspired, and empowered. She can be reached at nikki@legacybowes.com.

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