The International Mobility Program (IMP) allows employers in Canada to hire foreign workers on a temporary work permit without needing to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This may present a number of advantages to employers and workers alike, who may enjoy the simpler, quicker hiring process.
In contrast to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, under which work permits may be issued depending on labour market conditions in specific cases, the International Mobility Program serves Canada’s broader economic and cultural interests. This could take one of the following forms:
- Reciprocal youth exchange agreements, such as the International Experience Canada (IEC) program.
- Other international agreements with specific countries, such as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CETA).
- Permitting companies with a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate in Canada to transfer workers under the Intra-Company Transfer program.
- Allowing someone transitioning to permanent residence in Canada to work on a Bridging Open Work Permit.
- Giving international graduates who studied in Canada the opportunity to work on a Post-Graduation Work Permit.
- Situations that bring ‘significant social or cultural benefit to Canada’ (one such example being the Mobilité Francophone initiative).
The above list is by no means exhaustive. In order to assess how Canadian work permit are issued, it is helpful to compare the International Mobility Program, which is effectively a loose collection of work permit streams, with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which delivers a more rigid, labour market-oriented assessment of whether a foreign worker may be eligible to work in Canada.
TFWP and IMP: an overview
|LMIA required||No LMIA required|
|Work permits are closed (employer-specific)||Work permits may be open or closed|
|Labour market-based (to fill shortages on a temporary basis)||To advance Canada's broader economic and cultural interests|
|Based on specific labour needs based on occupation and region||Based partially on international reciprocal agreements (e.g. IEC, NAFTA, CETA)|
|Streams applications based on the wage of the position offered||Does not stream applications based on the wage offered, but certain streams take occupation skill level into account|
|Typically requires employers to search for Canadian workers before being able to hire a foreign worker||Employers may hire without first offering the position to Canadians|
|Employers hiring for high-wage positions usually must provide a transition plan||Employers do not have to provide a transition plan|
|Employer pays fee for LMIA application ($1,000)||Employer pays compliance fee ($230) unless job applicant holds an open work permit (in which case, no fee is required)|
|Two-week processing standard is only available for certain occupations and top 10% wage earners, otherwise the process can run to many months||Many IMP streams have a two-week work permit processing standard|
|Overseen by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)||Overseen by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)|
Under certain International Mobility Program streams — specifically, for streams requiring a job offer — the employer offering the job offer must do so in the government of Canada’s Employer Portal.
Employers hiring under one of these International Mobility Program streams first create a unique login before selecting the option to submit an offer of employment to a candidate. The employer must provide information about the nature of the business and its size, as well as its main activities. Information about the employment offer itself is also required. This may entail providing minimum requirements for the position, such as education level or language abilities. The employer must also provide information on the wage and benefits being offered.
A $230 employer compliance fee is associated with each offer of employment submitted through the Employer Portal.
Employers hiring workers with an open work permit are not required to submit an offer of employment through the Employer Portal, nor do they have to pay any fee.