For ICT companies to grow, they need access to talent, capital and markets. In a relatively small economy like Canada’s, access to foreign markets is an absolute imperative. Yet many companies find the move into the global marketplace challenging and costly. This page was created to help emerging Canadian ICT companies develop effective foreign business development strategies. It is designed to put them in touch with resources, opportunities and best practices in the area of foreign business development for Canadian ICT companies. Going forward ITAC will:
- Provide information about Federal and Provincial government led trade missions
- Highlight international congresses and other business development opportunities conducted by our sister technology associations in other parts of the world (such as India, Brazil, Mexico and Malaysia)
- Post news about upcoming foreign business development programs created by ITAC in association with partners such as the Export Development Canada (EDC)
- Enable best practice exchange on effective foreign business development strategy, planning and execution
- Qualify and provide information on “inbound delegations” from other countries to our members
ITAC International Business Strategy
Focus on India and Dubai
ITAC has a number of initiatives to promote international business development strategies among Canadian ICT companies. In 2014, the focal points of our program were two missions that took 12 companies to India and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The feedback we received indicates that the participating companies found the missions helpful in establishing business contacts in the regions we have targeted. While these were meant to be “early reconnaissance” missions, we are receiving solid reports of real and pending deal flow. An example:
ITAC has received funding from DFATD to continue this work in 2015. We took a dozen companies in the telecom and cyber security spaces to India in January and will be returning to Dubai in the fall for GITEX, the largest ICT trade show in the gulf region. ITAC will be expanding its network of contacts in the gulf region to provided better B2B connection in the region for our mission participants.
These blog posts may also offer a taste of the adventure
Day Four: One signed deal, countless insights
DFATD’s support enables us to reduce the cost of travel to these mission destination by as much as half for participating Canadian companies. This presents excellent opportunities to explore these high potential markets. We encourage you to learn more about these missions and, if it is appropriate for your company, to join us.
You can learn more about 2015 International Business Development Program by contacting Lynda Leonard (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Export Advice is as Close as the ITAC Office
Are you an SME interested in finding our more about exporting opportunities?
Let ITAC set up an appointment for you with Trade Commissioner Pratima Rao, the Ontario lead for the ICT sector.
As part of a new initiative, Rao is embedded in ITAC’s Mississauga office and prepared to offer free consultations to members that are export-ready.
She can offer advice on market potential and assist on dealing with the bureaucratic roadblocks that occasionally arise in global trade.
To arrange an appointment you can contact her directly by email or by phone at 647-227-3517
Trade Opportunity: California
Canadian emerging technology companies are invited to apply for two MarketLink events taking place in San Diego, California. MarketLink provides an opportunity for innovative companies to meet with top-level executives from large multinational corporations who are searching for new products, services and technologies. Canadian companies are invited to apply thanks to a partnership between the Canadian Consulate in San Diego and the MarketLink organizers.
There are two MarketLink events currently planned:
Application deadlines and more information on the process can be found on the MarketLink website. Companies are invited to submit an application that presents their technology and explains how it meets the companies areas of interest.
MarketLink is not a pitching event. Successful applicants will get a one-on-one corporate meeting with the multinational, during which they will discuss opportunities for sales and partnership.
Worker Express Program / Business Express Program
New Fees and Application Changes
This information is provided a reminder / additional guidance for applications submitted under Intra-Company Transfer – Specialized Knowledge provisions.
New Application Fees and Requirements
1) As part of a broader suite of reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker and International Mobility Programs, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has recently announced a number of additional requirements to strengthen employer accountability under the International Mobility Program.
- A) Effective February 21, 2015, employers hiring foreign nationals who are exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process are be required to submit an Offer of Employment Form (IMM 5802) and pay a $230 employer compliance fee. The fees collected will offset the cost of introducing robust employer compliance activities featuring inspections of thousands of employers.
The $230 fee and IMM 5802 are applicable to most instances of employer-specific LMIA-exempt work permit applications, including applications under Intra-Company Transfer (C12) provisions. The employer compliance fee must be paid online before the application for work permit is lodged. Similarly, the IMM 5802 must be completed and emailed (there is an automated email function) before the application is made. Applicants must then include a copy of the IMM 5802 and the receipt proving online payment along with their application for a work permit. Applications received without proof of online fee payment and the completed IMM 5802 may be deemed incomplete and refused. Where the employer compliance fee has been paid and an application is subsequently refused or withdrawn, a refund of the $230 will be initiated by CIC.
The IMM 5802 Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment form is found at: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/kits/forms/IMM5802E.pdf
Online fee payment may be made at: https://eservices.cic.gc.ca/epay/welcome.do?lang=en
- B) Effective February 21, 2015, a $100 Open Work Permit Holder fee is required for persons seeking to obtain an open (non-employer specific) work permit. The fees collected will offset the cost of new initiatives to improve data collection on the role of open work permit holders in the Canadian labour market, as well as increased promotional activities to encourage open work permit holders to apply for permanent residence. Examples of common open LMIA-exempt work permit types include spousal applications pursuant to the C41 and C42 exemption codes.
Unlike the employer compliance fee, the $100 Open Work Permit Holder fee may be paid either online prior to application or at the time of application (i.e. at the VAC or via e-Application). If pre-paid online, the applicant should be sure to include a copy of the receipt with his / her work permit application. Applications received without proof of fee payment (whether online or at the VAC) are incomplete and may be refused. Where the $100 Open Work Permit Holder fee has been paid and an application is subsequently refused or withdrawn, a refund will be initiated by CIC.
Online fee payment may be made at https://eservices.cic.gc.ca/epay/welcome.do?lang=en
Intra-Company Transfer – Specialized Knowledge
On June 9, 2014, OB 575 Expanded Guidelines for Officers Assessing Work Permit Applications for Intra-Company Transferees (ICT) with Specialised Knowledge came into force. While we have in observed amelioration in applications received over the past eight months, we believe that further outreach may assist stakeholders in understanding / addressing program requirements and thereby achieve more positive and predictable outcomes.
As a point of departure, we strongly suggest that employers familiarize themselves with Canada’s Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) provisions and with Operational Bulletin 575, in particular. These guidelines are used by officers to assess ICT applications and are publicly available.
Operational Bulletin-575: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/manuals/bulletins/2014/ob575.asp
In selecting workers for transfer and making application submissions, employers should focus how the individual meets the considerations contained within OB 575 and the general requirements for Intra-Company Transfers. As noted in the OB, specialized knowledge workers must demonstrate that they are key personnel, not simply highly skilled. Applicants need to demonstrate that they possess a high degree of proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise. They need to demonstrate that their specialized knowledge is unique and uncommon. While applicants have generally been able to demonstrate an advanced level of knowledge, we have observed that many clients fail because they not demonstrated that they possess a high level of proprietary knowledge of the employer’s products, services, processes and procedures or that they are “key personnel”. With this in mind, we suggest that applicants address the following questions in their submissions.
- What proprietary knowledge does the applicant have? Give specific details.
- How long did this knowledge take to acquire?
- How is this knowledge unique or uncommon within the employing company?
- Why should the applicant be considered as possessing a high degree of proprietary knowledge (i.e., why should it be considered uncommon or advanced)?
- How is the proprietary knowledge critical to the business of the parent / subsidiary / affiliate / branch in Canada?
- How will the absence of the employee’s proprietary knowledge result in a significant disruption of business of the parent / subsidiary / affiliate / branch in Canada?
- If the applicant possesses proprietary knowledge of a particular business process or method of operation, how is it unusual, not widespread within his employing company, and not likely to be available in the Canadian labour market?
- If the applicants are to be considered “key personnel,” how is this reflected by their current salary and role in India?
Intra-Company Transfers -Specialized Knowledge
Questions and Answers
- Would a company’s unique consulting processes be considered proprietary knowledge for the purposes of the intra-company transferee specialized knowledge (ICT-SK) category?
Knowledge of “unique consulting processes” is a vague descriptor and significant information would need to specify what this actually means in the context of the application at hand. The applicant would have to demonstrate a high degree of knowledge in this area.
- Would an individual who has been employed by an IT company for one year in duration be deemed to possess proprietary knowledge of a company’s proprietary software product for the purposes of the ICT-SK category or in an area of software specialization where that one year has been in the same role?
Although we assess each case on its merits, the scenario described could face some serious hurdles. Is the IT company the employer, or the client? Although there may be instances where proprietary knowledge of client products may be relevant to assessing whether advanced knowledge is uncommon or unusual within the industry / with the employer, assessments of proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise focus primarily on the employer’s (not the client’s) products, services, processes and procedures. Again, the details of proprietary knowledge would have to be clearly specified and would need to demonstrate that the client possesses a high level of propriety knowledge of the employer’s products and services etc., despite having worked for a short period with the employer. Furthermore, depending on how much industry experience the applicant has prior to working with the current employer, he / she might not meet the requirements of possessing an advanced level of expertise.
- Would an individual who holds a Bachelor degree in Computer Science (or equivalent) and has been employed by an IT company for one year in duration (and has not been employed at any other IT company previously) be deemed to possess advanced expertise for the purposes of the ICT-SK category? If not, can another period of time be determined as an objective criterion to assist businesses in identifying suitable candidates to meet contractual commitments in Canada?
The applicant would have to demonstrate an advanced level of knowledge that is unusual and different within the industry. A first-level university graduate with one year on the job would seem quite a stretch in this regard. How would their limited experience / expertise be considered unique and uncommon? Furthermore, how would an employee with one year employment experience be considered key personnel in a company with an international scope of operations? Demonstrating proprietary knowledge in such a context could also be a challenge. Of course, any assessment would ultimately be made on the facts of each case. Footnote #1 of the OB states “the longer the experience, the more likely the knowledge is indeed ‘specialized’.
- In the case of demonstrating proprietary knowledge, would it be sufficient from an evidentiary perspective that a company attest to the fact that an employee possesses proprietary knowledge in a letter of support, with the employee’s CV/resume as evidence of this? If not, what other documentation would be required?
In addition to company / other submissions on why / how the applicant is deemed to meet the ICT requirements of OB 575, a resumé is also a key part of the assessment. The resumé should be sufficiently detailed to support arguments regarding proprietary knowledge. Additional supporting documents (e.g. certificates for intra-company training on proprietary products, awards, articles, etc.) are important additions that can support submissions. Be sure to connect the dots between the facts and the test being addressed. We would also wish to see salary information and job descriptions for the client’s employment outside of Canada.
- As a general principle, would you like to see a greater amount of documentation that links the intended work in Canada to the CV (e.g. more details about the scope and nature of work)?
More specific information on the proposed work / role of the applicant in Canada would be helpful. Among other things, this is useful in terms of assessing proprietary knowledge (vis a vis the parent / branch / subsidiary / affiliate in Canada) and any potential disruption or impact on operations.
- In the case of demonstrating advanced expertise, would it be sufficient from an evidentiary perspective that a company attest to the fact that an employee possesses advanced expertise in a letter of support, with the employee’s CV/resume as evidence of this? If not, what other documentation would be required?
In addition to company / other submissions on why / how the applicant is deemed to meet the ICT requirements of OB 575, a resume is also a key part of the assessment. The resume should be sufficiently detailed to support arguments regarding advanced expertise. Additional supporting documents (e.g. certificates, intra-company training on proprietary products, awards, articles, etc.) are welcome additions if they are relevant to the arguments being made. We would also wish to see salary information and job descriptions for the client’s employment outside of Canada. If a client is being identified as being key personnel with advanced and unusual expertise, we would expect that this would be reflected in their wages in their current position.
Prevailing Wage in Canada
- Would a person who has a salary that is well above prevailing wage in Canada in and of itself be deemed to possess specialized knowledge for the purposes of the ICT-SK category? If so, what level or percentage above the prevailing wage would be an indicator? Is paying the prevailing wage enough to satisfy the criterion regarding the wage floor?
For the purposes of assessing prevailing wage requirements, the wage floor is a minimum threshold that must be met. Payment well in excess of the prevailing wage might be a supporting consideration when an officer assesses whether the applicant possesses a high degree of proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise. In the absence of specific on-point submissions demonstrating that the applicant possesses a high degree of proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise, wage alone should not be expected to be determinative.
The percentage of employees in a given company with specialized knowledge
1. According to Operational Bulletin 575, specialized knowledge “will by definition be held by only a small number or small percentage of employees of a given firm.” When assessing ICT-SK applications, is the definition of “a given firm” the subsidiary in India, the Canadian branch, or the global company?
This should be viewed globally. The employer will have to present their specific case.
- If only 10% of a given firm’s employees possess the knowledge put forth in an ICT-SK application, would those employees who are under this 10% figure be deemed to possess specialized knowledge? What about 5%? Is your office looking at these types of percentages as part of the adjudication process?
OB 575 does not provide specific ratios or measures. However, it clearly suggests that the specialized knowledge should be “unique and uncommon” and that applicants should demonstrate that they are “key personnel”. While there is a measure of proportionality that might be a consideration there also comes a point at which absolute volumes may also come to be relevant. For example, would hundreds of employees in a company of 2,000 or 4,000 still be argued to be unique and uncommon / key personnel? Each applicant / employer will have to make their specific case.
1. We have heard that an employee’s salary in India would also indicate whether an employee possessed specialized knowledge. Is there a set salary level (such as prevailing wage in India) that assists you in determining this? What type of statistical data do you use to assist you in this determination?
There are various websites from which wage information may be obtained (e.g. http://careers.glassceiling.com/careers/resources/salary). This said, our offices in India have processed close to 180,000 applications by visitors, students and temporary workers in 2014. Of these, several thousand involve ICT applications. These applications are invariably supported by ITRs (tax documents) and other wage information. We are thus able from experience to recognize when the Indian wage in a given occupation / application is not indicative of the applicant being unique, uncommon or key personnel. The lower the salary in India, the less likely it is that the applicant is key to the employer and possesses a high degree of proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise.
Blogs, Reports and Research
Canadians Too Complacent about Seeking Export Markets
Source: Globe and Mail, March 30, 2015