In December of 2011, the Prime Minister of Canada and President of the USA made a joint announcement regarding plans to implement a cooperative effort to improve security and efficiency at the ports of entry (including border crossings and airports) between the two countries. The effort has numerous facets, which may see RCMP and US police officials obtain jurisdiction on either side of the border, improved airport security, sharing of infrastructure between certain border crossings, harmonization of rules, sharing of information, and more.
The prospect of sharing of information has certain advantages and disadvantages to holders of Canadian work permits. A principal goal of the effort would be to have better information on the movement of temporary residents relative to their permission to stay in Canada. For example, there would be more knowledge of whether or not a given individual respected the conditions of a temporary stay in Canada, leaving or otherwise renewing status within the time permitted. If implemented, an individual who overstays could face negative consequences in the case of any future effort to seek admission to Canada.
In certain cases, work permit holders are constrained by time limitations associated with the issuance of a Canadian work visa. For example, intra-company transferees may be permitted stays of between five and seven years, but such time is assessed only against the duration of time actually spent in Canada. In such a case, better exit controls may serve the purpose of facilitating demonstration of the duration of the actual stay of such a work permit holder, permitting the maximum actual duration of validity of the immigration document.
It is not yet clear how or if this effort will be implemented. There are also differing accounts of the extent and purpose of information sharing. However, this could be a very important development for the two countries.
Effective for cases submitted on January 1 2012 and thereafter, work in the province of British Columbia is no longer subject to the Facilitated Processing of Information Technology Workers Program. Other than Quebec, all other provinces in Canada terminated the same program in September 2010.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada will therefore require Labour Market Opinions (i.e., Confirmations) for temporary work permit applications which had been earlier subject to the Facilitated Processing of Information Technology Workers provisions. The only exception at present is for cases in which the work is in the province of Quebec, where the program remains active for an undefined period; it should be noted that those cases are however subject to the requirement of a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec prior to seeking the work permit.
The Facilitated Processing of Information Technology Workers program was a collaboration between Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), and the Software Human Resources Council (now defunct). It was intended to expedite the admission of foreign workers in certain defined information technology occupations, primarily those in software development, by allowing admission in the absence of a Confirmation Letter from HRSDC. Those eligible were deemed to be admissible under what was termed a National Confirmation; i.e., no negative labour market impact was automatically determined by HRSDC. The program was enacted at a time, in the late 1990’s, when there was a perceived critical shortage of such IT professionals.
HRSDC issued notice in 2010 that this program would be terminated on September 30 2010, with the exception of the provinces of British Columbia and Quebec. Quebec and BC were the only provinces to extend the program at that time. Quebec did so for an undefined duration, and BC did so for incremental periods. As BC has now terminated the program, only Quebec is still subject to these provisions; all other cases must first obtain a LMO Confirmation prior to proceeding with the work permit application. Any case submitted for work in the province of BC prior to January 1 2012 will be processed to its conclusion and could be eligible for a work permit of up to one year from the date of its issuance.