DIY Management: What to know when hiring a foreign worker

An immigration lawyer and a recruitment consultant discuss the challenges, risks and benefits of hiring foreign workers

Bruce Harwood, an immigration lawyer with Boughton Law, and Alison Peever-Langford, recruitment consultant with Chemistry International Recruitment Service, discuss the challenges, risks and benefits of hiring foreign workers


1. Look for exemptions

If there’s a way to lawfully avoid Service Canada’s Labour Market Impact Assessment process, do it, advises Bruce Harwood. Labour mobility provisions in trade agreements like NAFTA eliminate LMIA requirements for certain occupations, most of which require a minimum baccalaureate degree. Intercompany transferee provisions allow a Canadian company to bring in a person who is an executive, a senior manager or someone with specialized knowledge who has been employed by a related corporate entity outside Canada for at least one of the past three years.


2. Follow the rules

If you need an LMIA, make sure you meet Service Canada requirements first, advises Harwood. Post the position on the federal job bank or WorkBC plus two other national sites like, Workopolis or Indeed until a decision is made on the application. Keep track of applications to demonstrate the availability of qualified Canadians. And make sure you’re offering the prevailing wage based on Canada’s national occupational classification (NOC) for that region and line of work, says Alison Peever-Langford. 


3. Talk to the applicant

Make sure the person has a valid passport and no criminal convictions. “Immigration law will bar entry to persons with specific convictions,” says Harwood. They can also be barred for medical reasons. “You can ask someone to get a medical,” says Peever-Langford. “The other thing is, just do your due diligence so that you know the person you’re hiring can actually do the job that you’re hiring them to do. We do Skype interviews. The worst case scenario is that you get somebody here after all this time, money and effort, and they actually aren’t a good fit.” 


4. Hire the worker

Once Service Canada approves the LMIA, “that basically is the green light for me to then hire someone who isn’t Canadian,” says Peever-Langford. The recruiting company or the applicant can then apply for a work permit. An applicant from a visa-exempt country will apply for a work permit from Immigration Canada at the port of entry. An applicant who needs a visa will apply at a Canadian diplomatic post abroad, says Harwood. “They will check the LMIA against the application for the work permit, and as long as immigration is satisfied, they’ll issue the appropriate work permit.”


5. Help the worker get settled

“They get off the plane. They’ve never been to Canada. So that’s not where your commitment stops to this person,” says Peever-Langford. You need to have a plan for settlement: where they’re going to live, how they’ll get to work. “The positive is that you get really good workers, you get committed staff, and you get them long-term. We have about a 95 per cent retention rate, so of all the people we’ve brought in, there have been very few who ever go home, who don’t complete their contract. And 95 per cent choose to stay in Canada.”