Toronto at a Glance
Expat Business Info TorontoiStockphoto
Good command of multiple languages is an asset in Toronto's diverse business world.
The most common way of becoming an expat is acquiring a work permit under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. The requirements are fairly simple, as the main prerequisite for the work permit is an employment contract from a company in Toronto. However, keep in mind that the permit is bound to the particular employer you originally signed with. If, for whichever reasons, your first try does not quite work out and you would like to change jobs, you have to reapply for a new work permit.
Once you have found an employer in Toronto who would like to work with you, they have to apply for and obtain a positive Labour Market Opinion before your work permit application can be processed. The Labour Market Opinion, issued by Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC), assesses the availability of qualified local personnel for the particular position you have applied for, and whether or not Toronto’s economy can profit from your manpower.
In July 2013, the government announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program as part of a larger scale Economic Action Plan and aim to ensure that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs. This means that the requirements both for expats and employers became more restrictive. Please take this into account when considering your chances of finding a job in Toronto.
The intra-company transfer is another popular option for expats. Much of the bureaucracy of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program is cut out of the process of transferring within your company to one of its Toronto based subsidiaries. A Labour Market Opinion is no longer necessary. The intra-company transfer is particularly popular with employees in executive or management level positions and those with highly specialized skills.
Accreditation of Personal Qualifications
Unfortunately, acquiring a work permit and qualifying for legal immigration to Toronto does not mean that your credentials, whether in terms of work experience, professional knowledge, or education, are automatically going to be recognized in your new home country. In some cases, there might also be the possibility of credentials not being up to the national standards in Canada.
In order to deal with the task of assessing and accrediting the professional credentials of foreigners, the CIC set up a subdivision devoted solely to this matter: the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO). Seeing how the assessment costs both time and money, it might be a good idea to contact the FCRO as soon as you have made up your mind and decided you want to relocate to Toronto. Even if your future employer does not require you to include your assessed credentials with your resume – which some of them definitely do – it will be a testament to your dedication.
Social Insurance Number
One of the most important administrative matters you have to take care of before starting your new job is applying for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Without it, you will not be able to take up legal employment or gain access to government programs and benefits. However, you should always remember that your SIN is strictly confidential and should not be shared with anyone unless it is necessary. A list of events and institutions that might require info on your SIN is provided on the Service Canada website.
Luckily, the application process is simple and straightforward. All you need to do is gather the necessary documents – once again, listed on the very comprehensive website of Service Canada - and head to your nearest Service Canada Centre. There are several Centres in Toronto and neighboring municipalities, so this task should not be much of an inconvenience. If everything is in order, you should receive your SIN card within 10 days. Your first SIN card is free of charge.
Apart from the obvious fact that sound English skills are indispensable for any career in Toronto, having good command, or at least basic knowledge, of additional languages is definitely an asset in the city’s diverse business environment. French has a special status in all of Canada, as the country is officially bilingual. Street signs, grocery labels, and virtually every other piece of writing you may encounter in your daily life will be in both English and French. While you most certainly will not encounter any difficulties if your knowledge of French is limited or nonexistent, it always pays off to know at least a few common phrases.