Changes ahead for Canadian Foreign Worker Program

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Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been subject to a myriad of changes in recent years and it doesn’t show any signs of settling as yet another adjustment will come into effect later this month.

Thankfully, the upcoming amendment actually simplifies the current LMIA application process. Immigration lawyer Benjamin Kranc explains:

“Until now, employers seeking to hire a foreign worker would need to consider whether the appropriate salary for the occupation was above or below the provincial median wage, and whether the occupation was high skill or low skill,” says Kranc.

Skill levels are identified by their National Occupational Classification (NOC) - NOC 0, A, and B are all considered high skill and NOC C and D are considered low skill. Each NOC occupation also has a median wage on the Job Bank which is different to the provincial median wage. It’s this discrepancy that can cause problems for employers.

“In most cases, high skill positions (which require an LMIA transition plan) would be above the median provincial wage and low skill positions (which have a cap on the number of positions that can be filled), would be under the median provincial wage,” explains Kranc.

“It is possible, however, that there could be a low skill occupation whose Job Bank-based median wage pays above the provincial median wage, and therefore would be considered 'high wage', and subject to a transition plan.”

It’s this complication that will be ironed out at the end of the month and employers can look forward to a somewhat simplified system.

“The [new] test will simply be whether the wages required for that occupation pursuant to Job Bank guidelines are above or below the provincial median wage,” says Kranc. “If above, then they are in the 'high-wage' stream and if below, they are in the 'low-wage' stream.”

It won't matter what the NOC code of the occupation is – if it requires a median Job Bank wage higher than the provincial median, it is high-wage and requires a transition plan along with all other high-wage considerations.

If it requires a median Job Bank wage below the provincial median, it is low-wage and is subject to the cap as well as all other low-wage considerations.

“For low-wage occupations, employers are also required to include return airfare, provide a contract with prescribed obligations, and ensure affordable housing is available,” says Kranc.  

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