Positive Immigration Changes for Hiring Foreign Workers

By: Rena Dhir

In recent years, the hospitality industry in BC has experienced significant growth, and this has led to a need for new immigration policies that can support the industry’s workforce needs. The hospitality industry is a major contributor to BC’s economy, and it is expected to continue growing in the coming years. Along with this growth, the hospitality industry has seen extreme labour shortages. What this means is that Canada needs to look for workers outside of Canada to fill these positions, and there are many benefits to hiring foreign workers. One of the main benefits is that employers can retain employees for a longer period of time, resulting in less turnover costs. Why is there less turnover? The foreign worker can only work for the employer named on their work permit and work permits are up to two years in duration with the possibility of renewal.

“The Temporary Foreign Worker Program allows employers to hire foreign workers to fill temporary labour and skill shortages.”

In Canada, there are several immigration programs available for foreign nationals who wish to work in the hospitality industry. The most popular is the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). This program allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers to fill temporary labour and skill shortages, when qualified Canadians are not available, through the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process. The low-wage stream and the high-wage stream may be applicable to most jobs in the hospitality industry.

“Service Canada made changes to the Labour Market Impact Assessment.”

To assist employers in the hospitality industry to hire more foreign workers, Service Canada made changes to the LMIA and increased the cap rate from 10% to 30% for the hospitality industry effective until October 30, 2023. This means employers in this industry can hire foreign workers that amount to 30% of their current labour force. For an employer with 10 employees, they can hire three foreign workers in the low-skilled category. There is no cap rate for high-wage LMIAs where the hourly rate is $26.44 or more. Furthermore, Service Canada has increased the timeframe for the LMIAs’ validity date from six months to 18 months, so the employer now has 18 months to hire a foreign worker using the approved LMIA. Finally, Service Canada has prioritized ‘light-duty cleaners’, so these positions are likely to be approved faster. Given these recent changes, it is advisable for employers to apply for these LMIAs before October 30, 2023. The employers will then have 18 months from the date of approval to use these approved LMIAs to hire foreign workers.

Another change made by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to support the labour shortage in Canada is to allow visitors to apply for work permits from inside Canada, which is effective until February 28, 2025. Prior to this, visitors had to apply outside Canada which resulted in longer processing times. Now, visitors have the choice of going to the border and obtaining a work permit with their approved LMIA immediately or applying online from within Canada for a faster processing time.

Many of these measures are temporary, so it is advisable for employers to take advantage of these programs now, rather than later, to ensure that they have the staff they need for the future.

Rena Dhir is a Regulated Immigration Consultant with Radar Immigration Inc. providing Immigration and Recruitment services.