Remove labour mobility barriers in North America, say groups

International Trade Administration looks at regulations

A working group should be established to identify discrepancies in the adjudication process for high-skilled workers keen to move across the border between the United States and Canada. And the respective governments of those two countries should expand the interpretation of certain qualifying occupations to accommodate high-skilled workers, according to a letter submitted by Worldwide ERC (WERC) and the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) to the International Trade Administration in Washington.

The administration is looking into regulatory co-operation activities that would help eliminate or reduce unnecessary regulatory divergences in North America that disrupt U.S. exports.

“Our member companies with cross-border operations rely on the ability to move staff quickly and easily across our respective borders,” said the letter. “They require access to an adequate supply of well-skilled, well-trained workers to help their businesses grow and prosper. Skilled workers help both economies grow and remain competitive in the global marketplace. With an aging workforce and the emergence of the ‘new economy’ in both countries, access to skilled workers is essential to maintaining that competitiveness.”

Unfortunately, the current administrative practices and regulatory frameworks do not work to support that business reality, said the two organizations.

“Our members have related ongoing and unnecessary barriers in transferring employees, and in legitimate business travel. Those delays and barriers only serve to reduce competitiveness and increase costs,” wrote Peggy Smith, CEO of WERC, and Stephen Cryne, president and CEO of CERC.

As a result, the two organizations made several recommendations:

Develop a public or private working group to identify discrepancies in the adjudication process for high-skilled workers. The group would include representatives from the various U.S. and Canadian government offices that administer immigration laws.

Encourage both governments to provide additional training and educational resources to inspectors and adjudicators regarding complex issues related to high-skilled migration.

Work with the governments to establish business liaison officials at key ports of entry who are familiar with the global workforce community and adjudication issues they confront.

Explore opportunities to pre-file applications that enable government officials to identify any potential issues prior the actual date of travel.

• Improve dialogue with, and access to, government supervisors and attorneys to resolve complicated issues.

Improve access to counsel for individuals referred to secondary inspection.

Advocate for the respective governments to expand the interpretation of certain NAFTA qualifying occupations to accommodate high-skilled workers, including computer software engineers, financial analysts, operations research analysts and management consultants.

Encourage greater access to the Business Visitor classification for certain short-term skilled workers.

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