The Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre
The Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre (the Centre) is a development and training facility. Located in Vancouver, the Microsoft Canada Development Centre (Microsoft Canada) opened this Centre in August 2014. The Centre is responsible for the execution of strategically important development projects. As such, it represents a significant expansion of Microsoft’s global development footprint. In addition, the Centre represents a significant investment by Microsoft in Vancouver that provides new job opportunities and creates economic benefits for Canada. Thus, it follows that foreign nationals working (or intending to work) at the Centre will be subject to the rules of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). This includes the requirement of undergoing the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has approved certain Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions for international trainees and core staff supporting the global training program at the Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) approved these Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions at the request of British Columbia. It did this under the authority of the foreign worker annex of the Canada – British Columbia Immigration Agreement, on the basis that:
- These trainees will not be entering the Canadian labour market or competing with Canadian workers and,
- The core staff are integral to facilitating the work that the global rotational employees carry out
The International Trainees – The Global Rotational Staff
The Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre is an international training place for new Canadian and international Microsoft hires. These individuals require preparation prior to commencing their jobs in various Microsoft facilities around the world. It is worth highlighting that these individuals typically participate in Microsoft training activities only. As such, these international trainees will not be entering the Canadian labour market or competing with Canadian workers. In addition, the work that these trainees undertake serves only to enhance their knowledge levels for their future employment prospects. Therefore, the authorities do not consider these activities as work that a Canadian could otherwise do.
The Core Staff
Core staff positions are essential to the training of the global rotational employees. It is worth noting that the training of new global recruits is a fundamental activity of the Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre. Thus, this activity is a key driver for the establishment of the Centre in Vancouver. The global rotational employee program would not be able to exist without a thriving and sustainable core workforce at the Centre. This is especially so because there would be little or no development projects available for the rotational employees to gain the relevant experience in.
Microsoft Canada intends to sponsor foreign national employees for permanent residence. By doing so, it aims to make these individuals part of the Canadian workforce, in many cases well before the expiry of the 36-month work permits that these individuals typically hold. Therefore, Microsoft Canada and British Columbia need to demonstrate a meaningful transitional plan to permanent residence for these foreign nationals recruited for core positions.
The Work Permit Application Processing Procedures
I – Letters for International Trainees – The Global Rotational Staff
The Government of British Columbia would need to issue letters of support to approved employees. These letters would typically request that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) issue the 24-month work permits pursuant to paragraph 204 (c) with the exemption code T13.
II – Letters for the Core Staff
Typically, work permit applications for each core staff member seeking a T13 exemption will need to include two letters. These would be from:
- Microsoft Canada, providing:
- An assurance that the hiring of the core employee contributes to building or sustaining the Centre’s capacity to be a robust development centre that can support the training of rotational employees and,
- A plan for transitioning these employees to permanent residence
- The Government of British Columbia outlining the province’s concurrence with the Microsoft assessment that the job positions contribute to building or sustaining the Centre’s capacity to be a robust development centre for supporting the training of the global recruits. This letter will commit British Columbia to nominating the foreign national for permanent residence via the Provincial Nominee Program as soon as the concerned foreign nationals become eligible. Moreover, the province’s letter will request that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) issue the 36-month work permits pursuant to paragraph 204 (c) with the exemption code T13.
III – The Additional Criteria for the Core Staff
It is worth noting that the exemptions outlined here apply only in scenarios where no other existing Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions apply. Such exemptions could typically include:
- Intra-company transferees or,
- Free trade agreement exemptions
In addition, the exemptions outlined here remain restricted to core staff in positions at the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 0, A and B levels.
IV – The Duration
Based on the terms specified in British Columbia’s foreign worker annex, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) would need to facilitate the issuance of:
- 24-month work permits for rotational employees in accordance with the letters received from British Columbia and,
- 36-month work permits for core staff, in accordance with the letters received from the Government of British Columbia and Microsoft
V – Extensions
- For Rotational Staff: The authorities will not issue any work permit extensions for this program
- For Core Staff: The authorities will not issue any work permit extensions unless:
- The individuals submit applications for permanent residence that the Government of Canada has not finalised as yet or,
- The individuals have established their Express Entry profiles
VI – The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Exemption Code T13
The officers would need to note “TFW-PS” on the work permits.
- Microsoft’s rotational program typically lasts 18 months
- However, the officers would need to issue 24-month work permits to enable the employees to continue to perform rotational program job duties until Microsoft transitions them into new positions elsewhere