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Criminal Inadmissibility, Employer Compliance, Immigration

Will a new law targeting immigrant criminals target businesses as well?

Last week, the Immigration Minister introduced legislation designed to target foreign national criminals. My take on one of the key provisions of this proposed legislation – the part designed to limit the appeals of certain foreign criminals – can be found in my Winnipeg Free Press op-ed here:http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/westview/removing-non-canadian-criminals-fair-policy-160647805.html

What has not really been reported about this proposed law is the proposal that would allow the government to impose conditions on employers. Under consideration are 3 types of regulations that employers may want to be aware of:

First, the proposed law will give government:

“the power to inspect, including the power to require documents to be provided for inspection, for the purpose of verifying compliance with undertakings”.

What will this mean is anybody’s guess. To the extent that this will impose more employer compliance regimes, it will be important to make sure that employers set up clear and easy to follow internal procedures to comply with the legislation.

Second, there is a proposal that would allow government to impose conditions employers of “permanent residents and foreign nationals”.

In immigration legislation, a “foreign national” is a person who is in Canada temporarily – such as a temporary foreign worker. These individuals already have a number of conditions restricting where they can work, who they can work for, and when they must leave Canada. “Permanent residents”, on the other hand, do not face these restrictions.

Will this new law put restrictions on employers of permanent residents? While this does not make sense, there are existing proposals to make permanent residency conditional for certain immigrant spouses. If these proposals go forward, certain foreign spouses could lose their permanent residency and right to work in Canada. If this happens, how will a business be able to determine who of their employees are permanent residents? At present, temporary foreign workers can be identified more easily as they have SINs that expire and start with a “9”. However, permanent residents have the same type of SINs as other Canadians. Will conditional permanent residents be given SINs that start with “9”?

Finally, the proposed legislation would give the government the power to pass regulations outlining “the consequences of a failure to comply”. At this time, there is no sense as to what these “consequences” will be. It does sound ominous though.

Employers, business groups and HR associations may want to keep the proposed legislation on their radar when consultations begin. Because these provisions are tucked into a much larger piece of legislation designed to limit criminals, these employment-type issues may not get the same sort of attention. For businesses, it is important that the new regime is clear, easy to follow, does not conflict with similar provincial legislation, and protects workers without being too intrusive on business.

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About Reis Pagtakhan

Reis Pagtakhan is an immigration law partner with MLT Aikins LLP. His extensive experience includes assisting businesses obtain temporary entry to Canada and permanent residency for their executives, employees and contractors from all over the world. Reis has lectured on and written papers on immigration law for the Law Society of Manitoba, the Manitoba Bar Association, the Human Resources Management Association of Manitoba, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, and the Community Legal Education Association of Manitoba. He has presented position papers before the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Immigration Department officials and Manitoba Labour and Immigration. He has written articles on immigration for the CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press, trade, industry and ethnic publications.

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