Last Updated on April 1, 2021 by Steven Meurrens

Regulation 205(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations provide that:

205 – A work permit may be issued under section 200 to a foreign national who intends to perform work that

(b) would create or maintain reciprocal employment of Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada in other countries.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) accordingly has a Labour Market Impact Assessment Confirmation Exemption Code C-20 which allows foreign workers to take up employment in Canada when Canadians have similar reciprocal opportunities abroad.

As per the IRCC website, entry under reciprocal provisions should result in a neutral labour market impact.

This provision also allows for admission of workers where reciprocity is demonstrated by the Canadian employer (or specific program administrator).

The IRCC website further states:

This could be indicated in the exchange agreement between the Canadian and foreign parties, a letter from the receiving Canadian institution, the work contract (if it provides evidence of reciprocity) and, if necessary, the officer can request documents and/or data to enable verification of reciprocal employment volumes. Bona fide evidence of reciprocity will allow the officer to issue a work permit.

It is not necessary that there be exact reciprocity (i.e. one for one exchange), but the general order of magnitude of exchanges should be reasonably similar on an annual basis. In assessing reciprocity, one would consider the relative number and percentage. For example, for exchanges involving larger numbers of foreign nationals (e.g. greater than 25), officers could require a higher minimum proportion of Canadians employed abroad to foreign nationals employed in Canada (e.g. at least 75%) than for smaller exchanges.

When the entities involved have no history of conducting reciprocal exchanges with Canada, it is reasonable to initially limit work permits to a small number of individuals and that subsequent work permits be issued only when reciprocity has been demonstrated. When organizations have a demonstrated history of reciprocal exchanges, they may be permitted some flexibility in the flow of exchange on an annual basis, as long as they are able to demonstrate that the exchanges are similar over a reasonable period of time (e.g. five years), there is a general neutral impact on the labour market.

In assessing reciprocity, officers can consider not only the number of individuals working in Canada and abroad, but also employment duration and job level.

If evidence of reciprocity is not presented to the satisfaction of the officer, the work permit may be refused, or the applicant may be notified that an LMO must be obtained for further consideration of a work permit.

Internal Q&A

One question that occassionally gets asked is whether a C-20 applicant must relocate to Canada or whether they can travel to Canada on an intermittent basis? The answer is that they can travel to Canada on an intermittent basis.