CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Getting to the (border) point

By Benjamin A. Kranc
Special to the Sun

Despite all the issues that we see in the public arena about immigration -- not enough immigration, too much immigration, security related matters, and on and on -- the reality is that this country "imports" between 100,000 and 200,000 much needed foreign workers each year, primarily in high level occupations.

As such, it is certainly imperative that both employers and employees understand the immigration issues facing them, to ensure that matters run smoothly.

Following improper immigration procedures, whether for permanent or temporary matters, could have a disastrous impact on both employers, who need that worker's skill set right away, and employees, who need to make sure that they can enter Canada and get started in their positions.

There are of course many issues relating to the proper carriage of work permit applications, and certainly they cannot all be dealt with in one column. Today, we are going to canvass one particular employment related immigration law issue concerning work permit issuance, which should be of benefit to employers and employees.

But first, readers must be aware of some issues surrounding visas and work permits -- two terms that are often misunderstood.

A visa is permission to go to Canada. It is separate from a work permit, which is permission to work.

Some people coming to Canada need a visa. The people who need or don't need a visa are designated under Canadian law -- the list is too long to set out here, but essentially, people from most Westernized countries do not need a visa, while others do.

Work permit

However, everyone who wants to work in Canada needs a work permit, whether or not they need a visa. Also, and very importantly, whether or not one needs a visa, everyone still must be granted permission to enter Canada on arrival. Many non-visa requiring applicants (and most often Americans) assume that because they can come to Canada without a visa, that they have a free pass. That is simply false; everyone must justify their right to enter Canada, and everyone must justify their eligibility to work in Canada.

Further, before a work permit can be applied for, the prospective employer must get "Confirmation" from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) -- but this is subject to exceptions. Confirmation is a process whereby the employer must justify the need for a foreign worker. (Confirmation and its exceptions will be canvassed in future columns.)

With all that in mind, some important amendments to Canada's immigration regulations have occurred recently with regard to work permit application procedures. Prior to August 2004, anyone (except Americans) whose work permit application needed HRSDC Confirmation had to apply for that work permit at a Canadian "visa post" (a consulate or embassy handling immigration matters). So even, for instance, a well-qualified British applicant would have to apply in London before coming to Canada (even though he would not need a visa).

What is new is that this procedure has changed. Since August 2004, any work permit application by a person from a non-visa requiring country can be made upon arrival at a port of entry -- even if the application required HRSDC Confirmation.

At first glance, this may seem minor, but for those who know the legal and procedural difficulties in getting work permits for needed high-level employees quickly, this is a major breakthrough.

For those who need to deal with business immigration matters, it is imperative to keep abreast of such ongoing changes.

Benjamin A. Kranc is principal of the Toronto immigration law firm, Kranc & Associates. He is certified as a Specialist in Immigration Law by the Law Society of Upper Canada, and author of Human Resources Guide to Immigration. He can be reached at 416-977-7500 or

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