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Recruiting overseas talent during COVID-19

Me Natacha MIGNON - 08/03/2020

After several months of uncertainty, overseas recruitment seem to be picking up again. What has been the impact of the crisis on the immigration process?

Not all the programmes have suffered in the same way, if some have been suspended, others have, on the contrary, seen an improvement in their processing, or conditions relaxed during the pandemic. We would like to take this opportunity to assess the situation, enabling you to address overseas recruitment more easily.


Let us start with a reminder: recruiting an overseas worker in Quebec requires, unless exempt, the employer to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), and the worker to obtain the “Certificat d’Acceptation du Québec” (CAQ), before a work permit application can be submitted.

This process, for which there are several possible options, is there to protect the local employment market and to make sure overseas talent enjoys the same conditions as Canadian or permanent resident workers.

Since March, the processing of LMIA and CAQ applications for workers has continued with no real problems and a real improvement in the reception of applications process: Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is currently accepting submissions via email and is transmitting acknowledgements of receipt in the same way.

As for the MIFI provincial authorities, since 24th July 2020, employers holding a LMIA can use it for another candidate when the initial candidate has not been able to obtain a CAQ or work permit.

Work permit

The crisis has had more of an impact on work permit applications, both for applications after CAQ-LMIA and for those with exemptions, such as intra-group transfers, International Experience Canada or others.

The processing of work permit applications made outside of Canada has been particularly limited; priority has only been given to essential workers.

Programmes such as International Experience Canada – WHP permit, young professional and/or coop internship – have been, and are, suspended. Likewise, the closing of the border has made it impossible to enter Canada to apply for a permit directly on arrival.

Exceptional measures

Luckily, as far as permit applications made within Canada are concerned, the authorities have implemented exceptional measures to make the situation of overseas workers already in the country easier.

One major problem during the pandemic was for overseas workers with employer-specific permits, linked to one employer, who lost their jobs, and could not work, even if they found a new job, as they had to wait for their new application to be processed. These people were without work for several months.

To overcome this problem, the authorities have set up a process allowing workers with employer-specific permits, and who have applied for a new work permit, to start their new job before the application has been processed.

With this aim in mind, the worker just has to apply to the authorities by email for an authorization, which usually takes ten days. This major provision has enabled overseas talents affected by the economic slowdown to find new employment.

Other relaxing: people who have exceeded their statute after 30th January 2020 can have it reinstated, without having to respect the required 90 day delay. Again, if the person has an employer-specific work permit, they can apply for an authorization to work before the authorities rule on their application.

These measures, coupled with a temporary exemption from submitting biometrics in Canada, as the data collection centres are still closed, mean that work permit applications made within Canada progress in spite of the crisis. This demonstrates the priority given by the authorities to facilitating and rectifying the situation of overseas talents already in Canada.

The present article aims to supply general information regarding immigration, to popularize terms, and can in no way be considered as legal advice. This article discusses recent news, which is likely to evolve rapidly and jointly with the crisis. Last update: August 3, 2020. To obtain complete legal advice, please contact our professionals.

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This article contains general information regarding immigration, is intended to provide a general understanding of the terms and does not constitute legal advice. For complete legal advice, contact our professionals.

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