Apply for a foreign worker recruiter's licence
Step 1: Find out if you need a licence
Recruiters help employers in B.C. find foreign workers. Individual recruiters must be licensed in B.C., even if their business or main operations are located outside of the province. Businesses or organizations that offer recruitment services do not get licensed – only individuals are licensed. Recruiters who operate without a licence could be fined up to $10,000.
If an employer in B.C. is using a recruiter to hire foreign workers under the federal Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, the recruiter must be licensed. Employers may have their registration cancelled or suspended for using a recruiter who is not licensed in B.C.
- Recruiter licensing requirements under the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act and Regulation (PDF, 865 KB)
- Employer registration requirements under the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act
- More information about Recruiters, Affiliates, Partners and Agents (PDF, 274.1 KB)
A licence is not required if you...
- Find foreign workers to work at your own business or with your employer
- Provide recruitment services to a member of your own family
- Act on behalf of a college, institution or university as defined in the College and Institute Act
- Act on behalf of a government (local, federal, provincial, First Nation, or outside of Canada)
Step 2: Complete the online application and pay the security bond
The online application takes about 15 minutes
Recruiters need to complete an online application form using the following information:
- An email address
- Your name and contact information
- Information about the business that you operate under, including address and contact information
- A list of partners, agents or affiliates that you work with, including any outside of B.C. or Canada
- Information about your membership with a law society or the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) (if applicable)
- Information about your recruiter licences in other provinces (if any)
- Information about whether you, or the business you're operating under, has been licensed as an employment agency in B.C.
Make sure your bond meets the requirements. Irrevocable letters of credit must be issued in the recruiter applicant's own name (not a corporate entity) and contain an automatic renewal clause.
Pay the security bond
There is no fee to apply but a $20,000 financial security bond is required for each recruiter and may be used to reimburse foreign workers who incur fees or costs in violation of the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act, or to cover fines imposed on the recruiter if found to be in violation with the Act. The security bond is retained for up to 36 months after the recruiter's licence expires. The bond may be returned prior to 36 months if:
- There are no outstanding complaints against the recruiter
- No complaints are received against the recruiter within the statutory complaint period of 24 months after their licence expires
The bond can be paid by certified cheque, bank draft, an irrevocable letter of credit (ILOC) provided directly from a financial institution or a surety bond provided by a financial institution or other issuer. Credit card, cash and money order payments are not accepted.
Please make payable to:
Minister of Finance
Please send payments to:
Attn: Trust Clerk
Compliance and TFW Team
PO Box 9570 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9K1
If sending payment by courier, please send to:
Attn: Trust Clerk
Compliance and TFW Team
200-880 Douglas Street
Victoria, BC V8W 2B7
For an ILOC, please have your financial institution complete an ILOC letter and return the signed original to the address below. The ILOC must be issued in the recruiter applicant's own name, irrevocable and contain an automatic renewal clause. An ILOC guarantees payment of the amount set out within it to the Director of Employment Standards once the conditions of the letter of credit have been met.
If your financial institution provides notice that they will not renew the ILOC, the Director can, at their option:
- Demand payment up to the full amount of the ILOC and hold the cash as alternate security
- Require you to provide alternate security that meets the requirements of the regulation. You must provide the alternate security within 10 days from the date of notice of non-renewal. If you don't provide alternate security, the Director will demand payment up to the full amount of the ILOC and hold the cash as alternate security
For a surety bond, it must be issued by a person authorized under the Financial Institutions Act, so long as it is irrevocable and is issued in a format that would not be any less effective than a certified cheque, bank draft or ILOC. Please complete the Surety Bond Template (PDF, 180 KB) and return the signed original to the address above.
An application cannot be processed until the bond is received. The bond is returned if an application is refused.
Step 3: Your application is reviewed to see if you qualify for a licence
Each application is checked for all mandatory information and to confirm that the bond is paid.
The conduct of each applicant is evaluated based on character, financial history and competence. The applicant's partners, affiliates or agents are also subject to review.
Based on the review process, an application can be refused if an applicant:
- Has not complied with the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act or Regulation (PDF, 865 KB)
- Does not comply with all provincial and federal laws
- Provides incomplete, false, misleading or inaccurate information
- Has not demonstrated that they carry out business legally, honestly, with integrity, or in the interest of the public
The following process is used if an application is going to be refused – this process also applies to the amendment, suspension or cancellation of a licence:
Step 1: The applicant is sent written notice that the application is going to be refused and the reasons why.
Step 2: The applicant can write a response that outlines why they think their application should be accepted.
Step 3: The applicant's response is reviewed to decide whether the application should be accepted or refused.
Step 4: If the application is refused, applicants have 30 calendar days from the date they receive the decision notification to submit a request for reconsideration through the online form. If the request is not received within 30 calendar days, the decision is final and the bond will be returned.
For more information, see Parts 2 and 4 of the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act.
Step 4: Follow the rules for recruiters
After getting a licence, recruiters are added to the public list of licensed recruiters in B.C.
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 could be fined and/or lose or have restrictions placed on their licence.
Download a summary of obligations:
The Foreign Worker Recruiter Licence is valid for up to three years. Recruiters must renew their licence before it expires. Operating as a recruiter with an expired licence is against the law in B.C. and can result in the loss of your licence.
Recruiters and employers cannot charge fees (directly or indirectly) to a foreign worker for recruitment services.
Recruiters must not:
- Produce or distribute false or misleading information relating to recruitment services, immigration, immigration services, employment, housing for foreign workers, or provincial and federal laws
- Take or keep a foreign worker’s passport or official documents
- Misrepresent employment opportunities, including a position, duties, length of employment, wages, benefits, or other terms of employment
- Abuse or violate the personal rights of foreign workers
- Threaten to send a worker back to their country or threaten other action for which there is no legal basis
- Take action against or threaten to take action against someone for participating in a legal investigation or proceeding or for making a complaint or inquiry
Recruiters must have a contract in writing with the employer or the foreign worker. This includes situations where the recruiter provides recruitment services to an employer and immigration services to a foreign worker who will be employed by that employer.
Licensed recruiters must also keep records in B.C. for at least four years related to any recruitment services provided to a temporary foreign worker, including:
- All signed contracts
- The name and address for each foreign worker who received recruitment services
- A description of recruitment services provided
- The name of each employer a foreign worker was referred to and/or placed with
- Fees and expenses requested or received
Recruiters must disclose:
- To a potential foreign worker if the recruiter is or will be receiving a fee or compensation for referring them to someone else
- To a foreign worker seeking employment and their potential employer if the recruiter provides services to them both
- To the province the names and addresses of all partners, affiliates or agents involved in the recruitment process. This must be done when applying for a recruiter licence and any time there's a change in information (e.g. a change in name, address, or relationship, or the addition of new partners, affiliates or agents)
Contact Employment Standards
The Compliance and TFW Team administers the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act and Regulation.
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