Global Skills Strategy: Employers Benefit from Faster Work Permit Processing and Exemptions


On June 12, 2017, the Government of Canada launched the Global Skills Strategy. This launch was done in connection with the new Global Talent Stream. The focus of the Global Talent Stream was to bring new options for Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) applications under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Read more about the Global Talent Stream in our companion blog.

The object of the Global Skills Strategy is, in part, to increase the ability of Canadian businesses to hire high-skill global talent.

It will achieve this goal by providing faster processing time for work permit applications. There are also new work permit exemptions that should benefit employers and companies seeking to bring in high-skilled talent for short durations.

One of the more problematic issues with accessing foreign workers is work permit processing times. For high-skilled talent, employers may have already spent months seeking an LMIA only to find they have to wait several more months for work permit and visa processing. The Global Skills Strategy seeks to correct that issue by instituting a two-week processing standard for certain work permit applications.

Expedited Work Permit Processing

An important feature of the Global Skills Strategy is expedited work permit processing. The Global Skills Strategy has established a goal of a two-week processing time for 80% of work permit applications that qualify.

There are two categories under which a work permit application can qualify for two-week processing.

The first way is if the foreign worker is LMIA-exempt under the International Mobility Program and:

  • He/she is applying from outside Canada
  • The job is employer-specific and either skill type 0 (managerial) or skill level A (professional) as defined in the National Occupation Classification
  • The employer has submitted an Offer of Employment and paid the Employer Compliance Fee of $230

The second way is if the employer has obtained a positive LMIA for an employer-specific job, which has indicated eligibility through the Global Talent Stream. As noted above, you can find more information about the Global Talent Stream in our companion blog.

This same expedited processing will not be provided to National Occupation Classification skill level B work permit applications under the International Mobility Program or to those employers who obtained standard stream LMIAs.

New Work Permit Exemptions

In addition to these opportunities for expedited processing, the Global Skills Strategy has created two new categories of work permit exemptions.

First, workers whose occupation is skill type 0 or skill level A may come to Canada for a short-term work assignment of 15 days once every six months, or 30 days once every 12 months.

Second, individuals coming to Canada to perform research at the invitation of a publicly-funded degree granting post-secondary institution or affiliated research institution will be able to come to Canada to work on the project relating to their invitation for one 120-day period, once per year.

Work permit exemptions and their applicability can be cumbersome. An employer or foreign worker should never assume a work permit exemption applies, and should always have qualified counsel check the process.

Final Thoughts

Although the Global Skills Strategy offers several important innovations, we have yet to see how accessible or efficient the system is.

In recent months, we have seen Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada meet expedited processing targets under the Express Entry System and family applications. Nevertheless, the fact that this standard only needs to apply to 80% of applications allows them a release and excuse to miss the target processing standard.

Employers should expect improvements in processing times for high-skilled talent sourced under the eligible categories. If the changes prove effective, employers may find recruitment and retention of foreign workers easier to manage in the immigration process.

To ensure proper compliance, employers seeking to make an application for expedited processing or work permit exemptions are encouraged to contact a legal professional. MLT Aikins would be happy to discuss these matters further with employers. Contact one of our Immigration team members.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.