Tuesday, April 10, 2012

CANADA – Accelerated Labour Market Opinion Program Launches Today



Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)’s new Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) Program for eligible employers should start today. The ALMO allows eligible employers to receive labour market opinions (i.e. confirmation from HRSDC that proposed positions for temporary foreign workers cannot be filled by resident workers) within 10 days of submission, as opposed to several weeks. The LMO requirement is waived in certain situations, including for intra company transferee applications.

Eligibility Criteria

To be deemed eligible to participate in the ALMO process, an employer must:
  1. Have had at least one LMO approved within the last two years;
  2. Have a clean compliance record with the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program and not be in the process of being audited at the time of application
  3. Not have been the subject of an investigation, an infraction and/or serious complaint, nor have any unresolved violations under provision laws; and
  4. Consent to participate in a subsequent audit process.

Registration Process

Employers seeking to participate in the ALMO program must register by completing a paper application form and faxing it to Service Canada.
Approved employers will be issued a password and have access to an online account. Employers will also be able to appoint third part representatives to make submissions on their behalf.
Service Canada has not yet indicated how long the registration process will take.

Key Features of the ALMO

The key features of the ALMO Program as we currently understand it are as follows:
  • Processing of LMO applications will be reduced from 12‐14 weeks to 10 days;
  • HRSDC will not require proof of recruitment to be submitted with the application, however employers will still be obligated to complete and retain recruitment efforts (including advertising);Although there will be less documentation required upon submission of the application, HRSDC intends to complete regular and thorough compliance audits on all employers to ensure compliance with Canadian immigration regulations; and The ALMO process will be limited to applications for managerial or high skilled occupations (NOC O, A and B).

Commentary from Greenberg Turner

Greenberg Turner notes the following points:
  1. The significantly faster processing times under the ALMO Program will allow pre-screened employers to meet business demands in a more responsive manner. However, it is critical that employers exercise extreme caution when filing an application.
  2. Upon initial review, it appears as though the formal filing requirements will be relaxed, but the process will be predicated on regular and comprehensive auditing of applications.
  3. Based on recent discussions with HRSDC, it is anticipated that employers may be subject to initial audits under the ALMO Program as early as the third quarter of 2012.
  4. To date, compliance audits have been primarily remedial. However, recent discussions suggest impending amendments to Canadian immigration law, which will permit authorities to take punitive measures against employers for a broader range of possible infractions.
  5. This puts an employer at greater risk of being removed from the ALMO Program, being subject to financial penalties, and/or being denied access to the temporary foreign worker program for a period of time.
  6. As such, it is critical that employers develop an appropriate immigration policy and process to create an effective compliance framework and ensure their organisation is “audit ready.”