ESDC/Service Canada has the authority to review the activities of any employer using the TFWP, in relation to their LMIA or LMIA request, by conducting one of the three following forms of review:
During any form of review, LMIAs may be temporarily suspended. This suspension prevents foreign workers from obtaining a work permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) while the review is in process.
The purpose of an inspection is to make sure the employer continues to satisfy the conditions set out in the offer of employment, the positive LMIA letter and the annexes, thereby ensuring that workers are not mistreated and that the TFWP is being used as intended. The inspection may occur anytime in the six years following the date of the authorized employment period for which the work permit was issued.
Reasons for an Inspection
There are three reasons an employer could be selected for an inspection:
Expectations of Employers during an Inspection
During an inspection, an officer may also enter and inspect any place in which a foreign national performs work and interview any foreign or Canadian workers at the worksite.
New regulations for employers found non-compliant came into effect on December 1, 2015.
Employers found non-compliant as a result of an inspection from a violation that occurred before December 1, 2015, could be subject to:
Employers who were found non-compliant for a violation that occurred on or after December 1, 2015 could face a range of consequences. These are determined on a points system that considers:
Possible penalties may include:
the revocation of previously-issued LMIAs.
From this point, the employer will have 30 days to respond in writing with additional information regarding the violation, the resulting penalties, or both. This may include justification for non-compliance, as well as any other factor or consideration that the employer feels is important for the officer to know before a final decision is made.
Employers may also ask for an extension beyond the initial 30 days for responding. Extension requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
If the final decision is a finding of non-compliance, the employer will receive a final notice, which includes information about the condition(s) violated, how the employer failed to comply, the reason(s) for the decision, the penalties and next steps to take.
Justification for Non-compliance
In some cases, non-compliance may be justified. Violations may be justified if they are the result of:
During an inspection, and before a final decision of non-compliance is made, the employer should submit information and supporting evidence that explains how the non-compliance is justified to IRCC. If the officer finds the justification acceptable, the employer may avoid being found non-compliant.
Unlike inspections, ECRs occur before the LMIA application is approved in order to verify past compliance with respect to program requirements for wages, occupation, and working conditions. Returning employers attest to this past compliance on their LMIA application form. In the ECR, ESDC/Service Canada may look at an employer’s compliance for up to six years prior to the receipt of the LMIA application.
On December 31, 2013, employer requirements were updated to ensure that foreign workers are:
Expectations of Employers during an ECR
Upon re-applying to the TFWP, employers may be subjected to a document-based review to ensure that they have met the wage, working conditions, and occupation requirements. Employers will be asked to provide specific documents to demonstrate their compliance. During the review, employers will have an opportunity to provide justifications for initial findings of non-compliance and to take corrective action, in some cases.
Pending LMIAs may not be finalized until the ECR is completed.
Employers who are unable to demonstrate their past compliance will be found non-compliant.
Employers found to be non-compliant are subject to:
The purpose of a review under Ministerial Instruction is to determine if new information received by ESDC/Service Canada justifies the revocation of an already approved LMIA and may occur at any point in time after a positive LMIA has been issued. Employers are selected for this form of review only when ESDC/Service Canada receives an allegation through the tip line regarding an LMIA that may justify the suspension/revocation based on public policy reasons.
During the period of review, the LMIA will be suspended.
Expectations of Employers during a Review under Ministerial Instruction
Employers undergoing this form of review will be:
Revocation is the permanent cancellation of an LMIA or the cancellation of one or more positions on the LMIA. Once revoked, the LMIA may no longer be used to obtain a work permit from IRCC. If an LMIA is revoked after a work permit has been issued, IRCC may also revoke the associated work permit from the foreign national.
A revocation may occur when:
There are two possible initial outcomes of any review:
If the outcome of the review is “non-compliant”, a positive LMIA will not be issued and the LMIA processing fee will not be reimbursed.
Employers who think they may have violated the conditions of the TFWP are encouraged to take necessary actions to become compliant and to voluntarily disclose this information to IRCC. IRCC will then determine if the information received is relevant and credible, assess the severity of the possible violation, and determine if an inspection is necessary. Not all disclosures will lead to an inspection.
If an inspection is conducted after a voluntary disclosure and the employer is found non-compliant, the employer may face a reduced penalty or no penalty at all. In such cases, IRCC will consider a number of factors to determine if the employer qualifies for a reduced penalty, including: