Archive for July, 2011

CIC Issues Additional Guidance on Specialized Knowledge Intracompany Transferees

Henry Chang | July 21, 2011 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)


On July 4, 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) issued Operational Bulletin 316 (the “Bulletin”). The Bulletin contains additional instructions regarding the assessment criteria that should be considered when adjudicating specialized knowledge intracompany transferee work permit applications.

The background section of the Bulletin refers to a significant increase in specialized knowledge intracompany transferee applications that has occurred since the national labor market opinion exemption for IT workers was eliminated on September 30, 2010. Therefore, it can be inferred that the intention of these instructions is to further limit the number of temporary foreign workers who may qualify under this category.

Factors Considered

According to the Bulletin, when assessing a specialized knowledge worker, officers should consider a number of factors to determine if the application supports the claim of specialized knowledge. These factors include:

  1. Education – is a diploma or degree required for the position sought?
  2. Knowledge – is it relatively unique within the company and industry in that it is not commonly held?
  3. Experience – does the experience with the foreign company/the respective industry support the claim of specialized knowledge
  4. Salary – is the salary realistic in terms of Canadian wage levels for the occupation concerned?
  5. Relevant training – does any previous training support the claim to specialized knowledge?
  6. Supporting documentation – do the resume, reference letters, etc. support the claim?

Additional Guidance on the Meaning of Specialized Knowledge

The Bulletin further states that it is normally not sufficient for a worker to simply have knowledge of the proprietary tools used or developed by the employer. A specialized knowledge worker would normally possess the following characteristics:

  1. Knowledge that is uncommon (i.e., beyond that generally found in a particular industry and within the company);
  2. Knowledge that has been gained through extensive experience and is difficult to acquire in a short period of time;
  3. Difficulty to train another worker to assume such duties;
  4. The required knowledge is complex in that it cannot be easily transferred; and
  5. A person possessing such knowledge would be in a position that is critical to the well-being or productivity of the Canadian employer.

Application of the National Occupational Classification

The Bulletin instructs officers to identify the occupation by evaluating the proposed job and matching it to one of the occupations listed in the National Occupational Classification (“NOC”). The following guidelines will then apply:

  1. The proposed position in Canada must be at a NOC level that is similar to or greater than the applicant’s position abroad, unless an exceptional situation exists.
  2. In conjunction with the foreign worker’s knowledge, education and experience, the NOC will also be used to determine the appropriate wage.

Required Salary or Wage

The Temporary Foreign Worker Guidelines relating to specialized knowledge workers already state that job offers must present salaries that are realistic in terms of Canadian wage-levels for the occupation concerned. The Bulletin clarifies that salaries of specialized knowledge workers in Canada should normally approximate the average wage for the stated occupation in the specified geographical location while working in Canada.

Salary calculations that include the use of per diems (i.e. allowances for accommodation, meals, transportation, etc.) in addition to wages, for the purpose of demonstrating that a realistic Canadian wage is being paid, are permitted. However, non-cash per diems (e.g., hotel, transportation paid for by the employer) may not be included in the calculation of the overall salary. Only allowances compensated in monetary form and paid directly to the employee are to be included.

For the purpose of assessing salary in relation to specialized knowledge, the Bulletin refers to Of course, this particular website no longer exists – it has been replaced by the Working in Canada website, which is available at

The Bulletin does clarify that salary is only one of a series of factors that must be taken into consideration and that applications should not be refused on the basis of salary alone.

Significance of the Bulletin

The Bulletin does not necessarily refer to any new factors that were not already mentioned (at least in general terms) in the Temporary Foreign Worker Guidelines, although it does provide more specific (and perhaps more restrictive) instructions on how these factors should be assessed. The Bulletin also contains a few surprising statements, including the following:

  1. That it is normally not sufficient for a worker to simply have knowledge of the proprietary tools used or developed by the employer (knowledge of proprietary tools used or developed by the employer probably should be considered specialized knowledge); and
  2. That the proposed position in Canada must be at a NOC level that is similar to or greater than the applicant’s position abroad, unless an exceptional situation exists (this was not necessarily a requirement in the Temporary Foreign Worker Guidelines).

In any event, the author’s most significant concern is that the Bulletin tends to emphasize a more in-depth analysis of the relevant factors and suggests that a much stricter assessment of these factors will be conducted in future adjudications.

USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count as of July 15, 2011

Henry Chang | in United States Immigration | Comments (0)

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has updated its H-1B cap count for the current fiscal year. As of July 15, 2011, approximately 20,500 H-1B cap-subject petitions were receipted. Additionally, USCIS has receipted 12,800 H-1B petitions for aliens with advanced degrees.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers. The current annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000. However, some petitions are exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption provided to the first 20,000 petitions filed for a beneficiary who has obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Others are completely exempt from the numerical limits.

Please note that up to 6,800 H-1B numbers may be set aside from the cap of 65,000 during each fiscal year for the H-1B1 program under the terms of the legislation implementing the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements. Unused numbers in this pool are made available for H-1B use for the next fiscal year.

For further information regarding the H-1B category, please review our H-1B article, which is available here.

USCIS Updates H-2B Cap Count as of July 1, 2011

Henry Chang | in United States Immigration | Comments (0)

As of July 1, 2011, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) receipted 28,511 petitions toward the 33,000 H-2B cap amount for the second half of the fiscal year. This count includes 29,091 approved and 420 pending petitions.

The H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs. There is a statutory numerical limit, or “cap,” on the total number aliens who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H-2B status (including through a change of status) during a fiscal year.

Currently, the H-2B cap set by Congress is 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 1st half of the fiscal year (October 1 – March 31) and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 2nd half of the fiscal year (April 1 – September 30). Any unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year will be made available for use by employers seeking to hire H-2B workers during the second half of the fiscal year. There is no “carry over” of unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year to the next.

Generally, an H-2B worker who extends his/her stay in H-2B status will not be counted again against the H-2B cap. Similarly, the spouse and children of H-2B workers classified as H-4 nonimmigrants are not counted against this cap. Additionally petitions for the following types of workers are exempt the H-2B cap:

  1. Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
  2. From November 28, 2009 until December 31, 2014, workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam.

Once the H-2B cap is reached, USCIS may only accept petitions for H-2B workers who are exempt from the H-2B cap.

Diversity Visa Lottery DV-2012 Status Check Available on the DOS E-DV website

Henry Chang | in United States Immigration | Comments (0)

Diversity Immigration Lottery entrants for the 2012 fiscal year will be able to check the status of their entry from July 15, 2011 until June 30, 2012. The status check may be accessed here.

Federal Immigrant Investor Program Quota Already Reached

Henry Chang | July 6, 2011 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

On June 26, 2011, we reported that Citizenship and Immigration Canada had imposed an annual quota of 700 Federal Immigrant Investor Program applications each year. This quota came into effect on July 1, 2011.

Unfortunately, we have heard that this quota has already been reached. Investor applicants may still consider the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program and the investor programs available under most of the Provincial Nominee Programs.