As a Canadian employer bringing foreign workers to Canada on work permits, it’s crucial to be prepared for the possibility of an immigration audit. Each new work permit issued to your employees increases the chances of facing scrutiny from immigration authorities. In this blog post, we will discuss how we successfully helped a Canadian employer navigate an immigration audit. Through this case study, we aim to shed light on the process and provide insights for employers in similar situations.
Working Together: Employer and Employee
In this particular case, we had previously collaborated with the employer to bring an employee to Canada on a work permit. The work permit in question was an LMIA-exempt permit, which meant that the employer did not have to undergo the process of obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Instead, they were required to submit an offer of employment through the government’s online portal, known as the employer portal. This offer of employment outlined various crucial details, including the employee’s salary, company benefits, assigned duties in Canada, National Occupational Classification (NOC) code, and the intended physical location of work. All of these factors needed to be accurately stated in the initial application.
Immigration Authorities and the Audit Process
Upon receiving the employer’s offer of employment, the immigration authorities commenced their inspection or immigration audit. The audit had specific requirements and focused on obtaining documentary evidence from the employer for a predetermined period. For instance, the audit might be limited to a span of four months, from October to January of the following year. During this timeframe, the employer was obliged to provide the immigration authorities with payroll documents as evidence of adhering to the specified salary stated in the offer of employment.
Additionally, HR-related documents were required to demonstrate the benefits received by the employee. The authorities also sought confirmation that the employee was fulfilling the designated duties and that the employer was not exploiting the system to bring in someone at a higher level under false pretences. Therefore, supporting documentation covering all these aspects had to be provided by the employer within a given timeframe.
Seeking Professional Assistance
Understanding the complexity and importance of the audit process, the employer reached out to us for support. While providing the necessary documents might seem straightforward, the real challenge for the employer lay in meticulously reviewing their payroll records, duties, and other relevant information. It was crucial to establish that they had indeed adhered to the conditions outlined in the offer of employment. Often, employers discover unintentional oversights or failure to meet certain requirements during this review process. In such cases, a well-crafted legal response becomes necessary.
Making a Strong Argument
In the case we handled, one issue arose regarding the employee’s salary, which varied from the originally stated amount in the offer of employment. We had to construct a persuasive argument to demonstrate that the variance was not significant enough to warrant penalties for the employer. We emphasised that the discrepancy did not deviate substantially from the agreed-upon terms. Successfully navigating this challenge allowed the employer to emerge from the audit unscathed, without facing penalties from the immigration authorities.
Conclusion: Safeguarding Compliance and Employee Immigration Status
Immigration audits are a critical aspect of the process for Canadian employers bringing in foreign workers on work permits. It is essential to approach them with thorough preparation, attention to detail, and, when needed, professional assistance. By learning from our success in helping this Canadian employer navigate an immigration audit, you can proactively safeguard your organisation’s compliance and protect your employees’ immigration status. Remember, being prepared is key to confidently overcoming these audits and ensuring a smooth immigration process for your workforce.
If you find yourself facing an immigration audit or have concerns about the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our experienced team is here to provide guidance and support, helping you navigate the intricate requirements of immigration audits with confidence.