What is the change? Canadian immigration authorities have released new instructions to their officers that detail how an employer audit is triggered, the inspection process, documents that may be requested to verify an employer’s compliance and how compliance will be assessed.

What does the change mean? Although employer inspections under the International Mobility Program are already underway, these new instructions give employers greater insight into the process so they may better prepare in the event they are audited.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits under the International Mobility Program.
  • Who is affected: Canadian companies employing foreign employees and assignees.
  • Business impact: Businesses should be aware of the enforcement environment and that Canada is stepping up employer inspections for work permit violations.
  • Next steps: Employers should familiarize themselves with the inspection process and documents they may be asked to produce. All employers are encouraged to review their internal procedures and record-keeping practices so that their evidence of compliance with all immigration requirements are on hand for inspection.

Details: The instructions detail the compliance regime and give guidance to the officers of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on conducting compliance inspections. The key points are:

  • Inspections may be triggered by past non-compliance, random selection, or a reason to suspect the employer is non-compliant.
  • Inspections may include answering questions, document inspection and, in some cases, on-site visits that include consensual interviews with foreign workers and other employees.
  • Employers may be inspected for up to six years after issuance of a work permit.
  • Employers may be asked to produce certain documents, including their business license, payroll records, bank statements, time sheets, job descriptions, employment contracts, corporate handbook and anti-abuse policies, and other applicable documentation.
  • Inspectors will be looking for whether the employer is actively engaged in business; is compliant with all federal, provincial and territorial recruitment rules; meets all wage, occupation and other conditions; is providing an abuse-free workplace; has provided accurate information; and is in compliance with document retention requirements.
  • An employer found to be non-compliant will be added to a public list, effectively banning the employer from obtaining work permits for a specified time. Employers may also have existing work permits revoked, depending on the circumstances.

BAL Analysis: Employers are encouraged to read the instructions and understand the inspection process. Most inspections will be based on random selection and involve document requests rather than site visits; only companies suspected of serious violations are likely to be investigated on site. Employers should work with their BAL team so they will be fully prepared with necessary documentation and other evidence of compliance with work permit program rules.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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