CANADIAN BORDER: Is There a “Right Time” for Business Immigration in Canada?

Many Canadian companies rely on foreign workers to advance their business. They turn to the global talent market when looking for skilled employees, managers, and executives.

For example, technology companies seek highly skilled engineers and programmers to help improve their products. The agricultural industry depends on foreign workers to meet seasonal variations and process large quantities of goods in a short period of time. And technology companies look for experts in growing and scaling companies to help them achieve the next level of success.

Whatever the reason, there are times when the Canadian domestic labour market simply does not have the specific skills or experience you need. As the economy grows, the demand for these skilled workers exceeds the supply.

That raises the question: Is there a “right time” to bring workers to Canada?

Your Hiring Decisions Should Be Based On Your Business Requirements

The simple answer to this question is that the best time to bring foreign workers to Canada is when you have a business need. All of your decisions should be based on your business requirements and whether you need a foreign worker to help you advance your company and meet your objectives. Beyond that, there isn’t much that you need to worry about in terms of when an employee should arrive.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared in advance. The process of hiring a foreign worker takes time, meaning you should kickstart your efforts as soon as you identify a need.

In our recent article, we talked about the importance of getting a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Getting a positive LMIA is initiated by you, the employer, and depends on you proving that you cannot hire a domestic Canadian worker for the role.

To do this, you need to have a job posted in Canada for at least 4 weeks, and have gone through the hiring process without successfully finding a candidate. Only after the LMIA has been issued can the employee get their work permit. Depending on the type of work and the country they are arriving from, this can take anywhere from 2-21 weeks to be processed. Candidates from non visa requiring countries can make an application at the port-of-entry once a LMIA is issued as long as there are no other impediments such as a medical exam required for certain classes of occupations.

Anticipate Your Needs Well In Advance

By the time everything is complete, the entire process is approximately 8 months. For a business looking to bring in top talent, this can have a serious impact on your results. Canadian companies have lost the opportunity to hire skilled workers from around the world because the candidate simply could not afford to wait any longer for the immigration process to be completed. They had to find another job.

Having unfilled positions for any length of time also costs you money, in the form of lost revenue opportunities, wasted resources, and lost productivity. The cost of losing out on top talent can be magnified even further if you are depending on their skills to move a major project or strategic initiative forward.

To address these challenges, the Canadian Government launched the Global Talent Stream program in 2017 as part of the Global Skills Strategy. High growth Canadian companies, or those seeking positions that have been determined to be in high demand but insufficient supply, can qualify if they demonstrate they need access to global talent in order to continue growing.

Now, instead of taking up to a year, the Global Talent Stream can process requests in 2 weeks – a substantial improvement. That said, the qualifications to use this program are different, and the amount of time the worker can be in Canada is shorter.

Hire Foreign Workers When it Makes Business Sense

For businesses who are considering hiring a foreign worker, the best time to bring an employee to Canada is when you need skills or experiences that you cannot find in the domestic labour market.

Sure, there are some minor factors to consider. It’s more comfortable for employees to move and get set up in the summer, and there may be delays or longer than normal processing times at the airport or land border during busy travel periods. But in the end, the driver for your decisions should always be your business requirements. There’s no time of year when it’s better or worse to immigrate to Canada.

Ashley Fisch B.A., J.D. is an Associate at Kaminker & Associates Immigration Law in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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