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How to onboard international talent in Canada

While onboarding contingent international talent is a competitive asset in a global economy, tapping into the international talent pool also carries compliance and administrative responsibilities in addition to domestic legislative and tax requirements that must be met in contingent workforce management. To remain competitive and compliant in 2022, organizations should adhere to a strict process. 

Here are the steps involved in onboarding international talent in Canada.

International talent is fueling Canadian tech dominance 

International talent is driving a tech boom in Canada. Toronto, Ontario specifically, had the biggest growth of technology jobs of any North American city between 2013 and 2018. Vancouver placed within the top five. 

Engaging and onboarding international talent  

Once your organization has attracted international talent, however, it’s critical to verify compliance records and remain diligent in the collection, verification and management of these documents to remain compliant in Canada.  

If you’re responsible for onboarding international talent at your organization, below are the 5 steps to take. 

STEP 1 – Initiation: The Welcome Call  

  • The first step in the onboarding approach should consist of a solid foundation with personalized details adapted to the position. To ensure this process, an onboarding specialist must: Verbally inquire if the worker is eligible to work in Canada.


  • Confirm the worker’s eligibility to work in the worksite country. 
  • If the worker confirms that he or she is working under a work/study permit, it’s critical for the onboarding specialist to notify the worker of what documents must be provided and advise the worker on the confirmation process and timeline. 
  • The onboarding specialist should then enter the worker into the organization’s internal Applicant Tracking System. 

STEP 2 – Follow Up: Document Request 

The second step in the onboarding process should include a follow up email sent to the worker detailing the documentation requirements, including forms to confirm eligibility to work in the worksite country.  

Required documentation includes: 
1.  Government Issued photo ID. 
2. Current Work Permit/Study Permit. 
3. A detailed and updated resume.  
4. Social Insurance Number documentation.  

If the worker holds a study permit, confirmation of a co-op placement, a work letter from the school and a valid work permit is required. If the worker only holds a study permit, he or she may be restricted to working a maximum of 20 hours/week as determined by permit restrictions and a co-op work letter must be requested. 

5. If the contingent worker holds an Implied Status, the following must be requested:
Expired work or study permit.  
The expired Social Insurance Number. 
Proof of Application. 
Tracking number and payment receipt. 

Once identification documentation is received and uploaded into the Applicant Tracking System, it’s recommended that the onboarding specialist should complete a video call to confirm the identity based on the ID and documentation provided. 

STEP 3 – Confirmation: Document Review 

The third step in onboarding international talent should include a review of the documents for any restrictions and to validate the following: 

  • Worker’s name.
    Expiry date to ensure that the contract term does not surpass permit expiry date. 
    Type (work/study). 
    Employer (open/closed). 
    Restrictions (confirmation that permit does not have restrictions that conflict with the contract, e.g. hours of work or type of work.)

    Once identification documentation is received and uploaded into the Applicant Tracking System, the onboarding specialist should complete a video call to confirm the identity based on the ID and documentation provided. 

STEP 4 – Compliance: Two Level Approval Review 

When onboarding international talent, a 2-level approval review should be conducted by both the onboarding specialist as well as the organization’s internal compliance team.  

Level 1 
Onboarding specialist review

To ensure all requirements are met, workers’ documents should be collected using a Checklist and included in the worker’s work permit application package. Once the permit application package is complete, the onboarding specialist should send the Checklist and all applicable documentation to an internal Human Resources Compliance Officer.  

The onboarding specialist and the internal compliance team should then cross reference the contract dates and special considerations to ensure they match the conditions of the permit.  

Once all documentation is uploaded into the Applicant Tracking System, the Human Resources Compliance Officer must review and validate that the permit or Implied Status is acceptable and meets legislative guidelines. 

Level 2 
Back-Office review 
Once approval has been given by the Human Resources Compliance Officer, the onboarding specialist will ensure the work permit or Implied Status expiry date is entered into the Applicant Tracking System for reporting and tracking. 

A second audit should then be conducted by an internal Back-Office Support team following the same procedures as the Level 1 review process. 

STEP 5 – Completion: Follow Up and Renewals 

Once the international worker’s application package is approved, he or she is ready to begin work! While the worker is on contract, it’s important for the organization to generate monthly reviews of the Permit/Implied Status to ensure regular follow ups on valid worker documentation.  

The organization should also follow up on:
International workers on Implied Status every 30 days to determine the status of the application.
If approved, an onboarding specialist should revert to step 2 and repeat the onboarding process.
If any application is denied, the worker should be advised that he or she must leave the premises.
If a permit is expiring, the onboarding specialist notifies the worker and repeats the process from step 2. 

In a time when flexibility and creativity are the keys to competitiveness, diversity is critical for an organization’s success.

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The Voice of Talent Report offers actionable insights into what workers expect in relation to mandatory vaccinations, remote work preferences, The Great Resignation, COVID-19 safety measures and more.

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How to onboard international talent in Canada

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