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Canada follows US, makes work visa difficult




Shilpa Phadnis

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Times of India

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BANGALORE: The past decade has seen a phenomenal increase in the number of Indians working in Canada, the highest amongst any single nationality. But that now looks set to slow down.

Just as the US, Canada too is tightening its temporary foreign worker program (TFWP) that allows foreign nationals to work in Canada for short periods. The effort, as Rakesh Prabhu, partner-immigration practice in ALMT Legal, says, is to improve employment opportunities for its locals.

Effective July, employers in Canada will have to pay $275 as processing fee for each application that they file to bring in a foreign worker. Till now there was no fee. The new fee is non-refundable in case the application is rejected.

Employers have to fill a new questionnaire that tries to figure out whether a firm is seeking to replace existing Canadian workers. Employers must advertise for the position locally three months before the application for bringing a foreign worker is filed, and the advertisement must run for four weeks compared to two weeks previously.

The Employment and Social Development Canada website adds, "In addition to advertising on the national Job Bank website or the equivalent provincial/territorial websites, employers must prove that they have used at least two other recruitment methods that are consistent with the advertising practices for the occupation."

The new regulation also lays down English and French as the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement. If someone wants to bring in a foreign national who knows only one of the other languages, a very strong case has to be built for that.

The latest restrictions follow a decision in April to end a provision that allowed employers to pay foreign workers as much as 15% less than the average Canadian wage for a job.

Sajan Poovayya, managing partner in law firm Poovayya & Co, said the changes would have an impact on the Indian workforce movement to Canada. "Companies in India will find it harder to use this route to ship personnel on temporary IT assignments. There will be cost over runs and time delays in sending workforce to that country. The Canadian government's decision to insist on employers who rely on temporary foreign workers to have a firm plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce over time, will make the whole programme unattractive to Indian technology players," he said.

Canada's move comes shortly after the backlash that followed when the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) outsourced its IT services to iGate, which then replaced RBC's IT employees with foreign workers. It also comes after a ten-year period (2003 to 2012) that saw the number of Indian workers in Canada grow a whopping 730%, making them the fastest-growing foreign worker community in that country. The number of Indian foreign workers rose from 2,686 in 2003 to 22,281 in 2012, said a report by Canada Facts and Figures 2012. The French were a distant second with a growth of 332% to 18,961 workers, followed by Filipinos, who grew 280% to 23,683.

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