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Provincial Requirement for Employers and Recruiters to Register Temporary Foreign Workers Hired in BC

In 2018, British Columbia enacted the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act (the “Act”), which aims to improve the protection of Temporary Foreign Workers (“TFWs”) by creating a registry of employers and foreign worker recruiters active in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (“TFWP”) and by expanding governmental enforcement tools. Although the legislation received royal assent on November 8, 2018, the BC Government only recently established regulations for an employer registry to give effect to all of the requirements under the Act.

Two separate registries have been established – one for foreign worker recruiters and one for employers that hire foreign workers in BC. The employer and recruiter registration requirement is intended to help the provincial government identify which employers hire TFWs, and recruiters that assist such employers, to help with inspection of those employers and enforcement of applicable employment laws.

Employer Registration

Under the Act, most employers who hire TFWs in BC – including those hired under the TFWP, the Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program, the Home Child Care Provider or Home Support Worker pilots and other programs that require a Labour Market Impact Assessment – are required to register with the provincial government.

Excluded employers, employers who currently employ foreign workers and do not plan to hire additional workers, and employers who only hire foreign workers under the Provincial Nominee Program or federal International Mobility Program do not need to register. Additionally, individuals hiring domestic workers are required to register the worker with the BC Employment Standards Branch within 30 days of hiring them.

Employers required to register must do so before December 15, 2020. Employers can apply for a certificate of registration here. There is no fee for the registration, and the process takes about 20 minutes to complete. If approved, the employer is issued with a certificate of registration valid for up to three years. Employers must renew their registration certificate before it expires. Employers who hire additional TFWs after their certificates expire may not have their certificates renewed.

If the Employer’s application is refused, the Director of Employment Standards will notify the employer in advance of the decision. After the decision is issued, the employer will have 30 calendar days to submit a request for reconsideration. Applications may be refused if they contain incomplete, false, misleading or inaccurate information, if employers have not followed provincial or federal laws, or if employers do not carry out business legally, honestly, with integrity or in the public’s interest. Registration certificates may also be cancelled or suspended after they are granted if employers do not confirm with the law or act in a manner that is dishonest or unfair.

The BC government will keep a public registry of employers that are registered to hire foreign workers. The registry will include the name of each employer that has been issued with a certificate of registration in BC, the date it was registered, and the date the registration expires.

Recruiter Registration

Any person who, for a fee or compensation received directly or indirectly, helps employers in BC find foreign workers must register for a license under the Act, including any person whose business or operations are located outside of BC. Recruiters who operate without licenses may be fined up to $10,000. Recruiters are not required to be licensed if they:

  • find foreign workers to work at their own business or with their employer;
  • provide recruitment services to a member of their own family;
  • act on behalf of a college, institute or university; or
  • act on behalf of a government.

If a BC employer uses a recruiter to recruit or offer to recruit foreign workers under the TFWP, the recruiter must be licensed. Employers can be fined or have their registration to hire TFWs cancelled or suspended if they use an unlicensed recruiter.

Recruiters may apply to register online here. While there is no registration fee, a $20,000 financial security bond is required for each recruiter and may be used to reimburse foreign workers who incur fees or costs contrary to the Act, or to cover fines imposed on the recruiter, if they are found to be in violation of the Act. The security bond is retained for up to 36 months after the recruiter’s license expires, but may be returned prior to 36 months if there are no outstanding complaints against the recruiter and no complaints against the recruiter are received within 24 months after their license expires.

Applicants must provide a complete application and demonstrate they qualify based on their character, financial history and competence. An applicant’s partners, affiliates or agents are also subject to review. Applications may be rejected if applicants have not complied with the applicable legislation, provide incomplete, false, misleading or inaccurate information or have not demonstrated that they carry out business legally, honestly, with integrity or in the public’s interest.

Before an application is refused, an applicant will be sent written notice that the application is going to be refused, which sets out the reasons why. The applicant can then write a response that outlines why they think their application should be accepted. Once this is reviewed, if the application is refused, applicants have 30 calendar days to submit a request for reconsideration.

A list of licensed recruiters is available here. The Foreign Worker Recruiter license is valid for up to three years. Licensed recruiters must uphold their obligations required by law and make sure that the partners, affiliates or agents they work with do the same. If not, recruiters can be fined and/or have restrictions placed on their licenses.

Employment Law human resources



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