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On June 9, 2014, government of Canada (CIC) published a new guide for officers assessing work permit applications for Intra-Company Transferees (ICTs) under the Specialized Knowledge category, with a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) Exemption. The new criteria will now include a more stringent definition of “specialized knowledge” and a mandatory wage requirement. Individuals covered under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or under any future or current Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) appear to be exempt from these changes.

Summary of Changes to the ICT- Specialized Knowledge Workers

1) Changes in the Definition

A person who applies as an ICT under the Specialized Knowledge Worker category must possess BOTH proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise.

Proprietary Knowledge: It is company-specific expertise related to a company’s products or services. It is NOT common knowledge readily available in the Canadian labour market.

An Advanced Level of Expertise: It is specialized knowledge gained through significant and recent (within the last five years) experience with the organization. Additionally, the individual must show that he or she contributes significantly to the employer’s productivity.

2) Changes to the Mandatory Wage Requirement

In order to receive an LMO- exempt work permit, an ICT worker who possesses specialized knowledge is required to receive an above average salary. Officers will look at the specific occupation and region of work to determine the average salary in Canada.

What Does CLG Think About These Changes

These changes were made effective immediately. We are pleased to report that the Canadian Law Group (CLG) has already adapted its intra-company transfers practice to better serve its clients. In order to prove that employees will fit the new definition of a specialized knowledge worker and the new mandatory wage requirement, we are now asking for more specific evidence from our clients, and ready to present this evidence in our submissions to CIC and CBSA.

We believe the changes will impact many transfers of workers in the computer software industry. In order to expand their international businesses in Canada, many computer software companies rely on transferring specialized knowledge workers. Additionally, such industries depend heavily on proprietary knowledge. However, IT knowledge is usually not specific to the company; rather it is used by many others in the IT industry. This may leave many individuals in the software industry, who would have ordinarily qualified for an ICT- Specialized Knowledge Category, ineligible for work permits.

On a larger scale, these new guidelines potentially hinder international companies from locating their institutions in Canada. This may have a large impact on the Canadian economy and ultimately portray Canada as not being welcoming of international workers.

Needless to say, these are the realities of the new requirements for ICT under the Specialized Knowledge category, and at CLG we are prepared to tackle these new requirements with interested clients.

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