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Pursuing an Information Technology Consulting Project in Canada

We are occasionally contacted by foreign information technology consulting firms who are considering pursuing projects in Canada or who have been requested to carry out such projects. It is common for such firms to be based in the USA, although it is possible for any company worldwide. The following is intended to provide a general summary of the requirements of such a firm to gain the admission of its employees to participate in these projects.

As a general rule, there will be two main scenarios that the employees of the foreign firm will fit into:

1. Cases subject to a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).

In these cases, it is necessary to prove to the Canadian government that there is a positive or neutral labour market impact as a result of the admission of a foreign worker. In most cases, the employer in such a case would need to place and run three advertisements for any given position for a period of four weeks each within the 90 days preceding the submission of an application. One mandatory location for placement requires a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) business and payroll number, which will take a foreign corporation a few weeks to receive, and also has a validation process that takes 1-2 weeks for placement of an ad. Companies considering pursuing such projects therefore can get a head start on the completion of these registrations with very little cost, which could save several weeks when it is time to begin.

In some cases, exemptions from the requirement for recruitment can be exempted. Considerations in such a determination include the role of the foreign worker(s), any evidenced specialization associated with the completion of the work, and the duration of such work. Once the recruiting is done, or if recruiting is exempted, the LMO application itself is filed. Depending on the location and the case, standard processing delays currently range from 3-4 months at this time (this figure is constantly fluctuating). In some cases, this can be reduced to 1-3 weeks (again, subject to fluctuations), but this is really the exception to the rule and the case would have to be more closely evaluated to determine the viability of such expedition.

Once the LMO is approved, any foreign worker must seek the work permit itself. For an individual who is not a citizen of a passport-visa exempt nation or Permanent Resident (i.e., Green Card holder) of the USA, the work permit application process is expected to take roughly an additional 2 months for a work permit of less than 6 months or 3 months for a work permit of 6 or more months. For a citizen of a passport-visa exempt nation or Permanent Resident of the USA, that work permit can be secured as quickly as within a day of the approval of the LMO.

2. Cases exempt from the LMO.

In some cases, the LMO may not be a requirement for the issuance of the work permit. In the case of a US based foreign company requiring consulting professionals in Canada, for example, the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or other Free Trade agreements would likely be those which offer the greatest advantage (for the moment, we will assume that the provisions of NAFTA are most likely to apply for US citizens, although similar provisions may exist for  Mexican, Peruvian, and Chilean citizens as well). Under NAFTA, a US citizen with a university level degree, participating in certain occupations (including one such as an Analyst or IT Consultant in this industry), the work permit would be sought without a LMO and the entire process could be concluded in under one week.

It may also be worthwhile to consider the provisions of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Under these provisions, an eligible candidate (including for example an Indian citizen residing in the USA under H1 or PR status) with a Master’s level education plus 10 or more years of relevant experience could obtain a work permit in the absence of the LMO. However, the GATS permits are much more limited than NAFTA, being valid for a maximum duration of 90 days within a 12 month period. However, this can offer some advantage in some cases.

The above examples are general and are intended to address the most common example we encounter. It is generally worthwhile to have any given case reviewed for more precise evaluations whenever the circumstances vary. Moreover, as processing delays fluctuate constantly, it is also worthwhile to contact us to seek updates if these scenarios concern you.

Date Posted: March 24, 2014 Posted In: Labour Market Opinion,Temporary Work Permits

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