Hiring Foreign Workers in Canada: 5 Steps

Three employees meeting together at a desk.

There are several reasons why your company may want to hire international employees. Perhaps you’re looking to develop and stimulate growth, or maybe you’re hiring foreign workers in Canada because you need a rare skillset. No matter the reason, expanding your company or business globally is often a smart business move that can expand your global presence, increase sales, and help your business stay ahead of the competition.

While this all sounds very promising and beneficial, the process of hiring international employees can be challenging and shouldn’t be underestimated. This article will cover the following five steps that will help you hire international employees with confidence:

  1. Prepare for cultural and legal alignment
  2. Set up a global recruiting strategy
  3. Factor in additional time and resources for hiring
  4. Designate a team to manage the international hiring process
  5. Train your workforce to promote diversity and collaboration

1. Prepare for Cultural and Legal Alignment

Working in a multicultural workplace can offer great opportunities to your workforce. Through learning new ways of problem solving and communication, the benefits of a diverse work culture are even greater than they’ve ever been.

However, it’s important to realize that working in an environment with different cultures can also present some challenges in terms of communication and integration, but also in terms of the process itself. Before you start your candidate search, you need to be aware of these challenges, and you’ll want to ask questions such as:

  • What are the labour laws and rules, both for Canada and the candidate’s home country?
  • What’s the economic forecast for hiring employees from particular countries?
  • Are there any differences in cultural values and etiquette that could impact your workplace?

These topics are important to figure out since they could lead to disagreements and conflicts in the workplace or even legal compliance issues. Be sure to set clear expectations for potential applicants by including your company’s culture and values in your job post as well as your general goals for specific markets. Doing so will help you to pull in candidates more attuned to your business culture and needs.

Besides the cultural preparation, it’s important to become thoroughly aware of the immigration regulations when hiring foreign workers in Canada. Getting this wrong can not only impact your ability to fill a particular position, but it could also create legal exposure for your business.

2. Set Up a Global Recruiting Strategy

The next step in your international employee expansion plan is deciding on an international recruitment strategy. There are several ways of finding employees who are looking to work at an international company. Global job boards are specialized in helping you find international employees. They have databases filled with candidates who are specifically looking for Canadian employers hiring foreign workers.

When going over resumes, remember that countries may have different etiquettes and customs when it comes to how to write a resume and what information to include. Be sure to mention any specific information that you need from candidates, but also include general information that you may not think requires a mention. This will help to avoid any misunderstandings and, ultimately, will get you the information that you need.

Are you planning to be fully in charge of the hiring and onboarding process of new employees? Permit requirements, Labour Market Impact Assessment applications, tax and employment laws, and cultural practices all need to be considered when you onboard and hire international employees yourself.

If these requirements and obligations are a bit too much, don’t be discouraged. You can also consider working with a global professional employer organization (PEO) who are experts in dealing with all HR-related tasks of hiring international employees. They oversee the collecting and processing of all paperwork, so the only thing you’re in charge of is finding the right candidate.

By working with a PEO partner, you can protect your business from any legal issues you might come across when hiring foreign workers in Canada.

3. Factor in Additional Time and Resources for Hiring

Your next step is to create a timeline for the hiring process. Depending on the type of job, immigration status, permit process, and LMIA requirements, the hiring process can take between two weeks to six months. It’s important to keep this in mind as it can be much longer than the timeline for hiring Canadian workers.

It’s also important to create an international hiring budget. Hiring a new employee always involves costs, from job board fees to background checks. When you hire international employees, there are additional costs required for legal compliance, which can add up to several thousand dollars in application fees, legal fees, and other expenses. That’s why it’s important to create a budget, so your company is prepared for any added costs of hiring foreign workers in Canada.

4. Designate a Team to Manage the International Hiring Process

Global expansion needs close attention to the interview and onboarding processes and to managing the paperwork that will be required. Allocate specific individuals on your hiring team who will oversee each aspect and make sure that everyone is on the same page in terms of responsibilities and deadlines.

Once you’re comfortable with your preparations and your team, get the hiring process started. Whether the process is virtual or face-to-face, the interview is not that different from hiring a local employee. However, there are a few dos and don’ts when interviewing a foreign candidate.

Stay away from questions that are directly about the candidate’s racial or ethnic background. These can give the wrong impression to the job seeker and are usually illegal to ask anyway. Instead, focus on questions such as: “Are you eligible to work in our country, or will you require sponsorship at any point?” This will tell you whether your business is going to be responsible for sponsoring the candidate or not.

In addition, while you can’t ask about the national origin of the candidate, you can ask what their native language is, and what other languages they speak if it is relevant to the position.

5. Train Your Workforce to Promote Diversity and Collaboration

When different cultures and nationalities are working on the same team you must create a constructive work environment that fosters mutual understanding. It helps to ensure that employees feel connected to each other. Diversity training can help de-stigmatize prejudices, encourage inclusion, and provide a way to communicate effectively among different nationalities.

Encourage discussions on values and beliefs and how these can influence people’s behaviours. Focus on cultural awareness so employees are educated on similarities and differences among cultures. One approach is to honour observed holidays from each culture, so each employee feels that their nationality and background are being honoured.

Implement training as soon as possible so you can focus on building a positive work environment from the start and create an exceptional experience for all employees.

Are You Ready to Hire International Employees? We Can Help

Hiring foreign workers in Canada creates many opportunities and benefits for you and your prospective employee. When you’re ready to find exceptional talent, post a job for free on Monster.