Canada is a No Placement Fee country. Both the Government of Canada and the Philippine Government forbid the collection of placement fees (or recruiting fees) for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are looking for (or already on their way to) work in Canada.
What is a placement fee?
A placement fee (also called recruitment fee) is an amount of money that is paid to a recruitment agency for services rendered.
Most of the time, it is charged to the prospective OFW.
These services would include looking for foreign employers, advertising for available positions, creating a pool of qualified workers for the position and conducting interviews.
For some foreign employers who can’t be bothered to meet with the prospective OFWs, it is the recruitment agency who selects the OFW.
However, it is always the foreign government who has the last say in who gets to enter their country (not the foreign employer, and certainly not the recruitment agency).
In the Philippines, it is not illegal for POEA-licensed recruitment agencies to charge prospective workers placement fees for employment in countries that allow them to do so.
It’s illegal in Canada (as we might have mentioned previously, Canada is a no placement fee country). The cost of hiring an OFW is the responsibility of the Canadian employer, not the OFW. This includes two-way airfare from the Philippines to Canada and back.
If you are asked to pay a placement fee (or a recruitment fee) and you are not issued a receipt, you just might be a victim of illegal recruitment.
New POEA rules for Canada
Since late 2017, the Philippine Government, through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), has established new rules for Canadian employers who are hiring OFWs from the Philippines.
Under the new rules, a Canadian employer must partner with both a Canadian recruitment agency and a Philippine recruitment agency, as well as submit additional documents for authentication at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) which has jurisdiction over the province of employment.
An OFW bound for Canada will not be issued an Exit Clearance unless their Canadian employer has already submitted requirements to the POLO.
Since 2014, recruitment agencies have been warned by the POEA that they will face severe penalties if they choose to continue charging placement fees from OFWs bound for no placement fee countries, like Canada.
Penalties for recruitment agencies who are found to be charging placement fees from OFWs bound for Canada can have their POEA licences cancelled (even on the first offense).
POEA is advising that anyone who has been charged by recruitment agencies in the Philippines for jobs in Canada to contact them at the POEA hotlines 722-1144 and 722-1155.
You can also contact POEA by sending them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the other countries that have no placement fee policies?
Canada isn’t the only country that doesn’t allow placement fees to be charged to foreign workers.
The United States of America (for those going to the States on an H2B visa), the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands are some of the other countries where their governments do not allow placement fees to be paid by foreign workers.
Pay-to-work: why placement fees are not a guarantee of working in Canada
Individuals who are unfamiliar with Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program can’t believe that Canada is a no placement fee country.
There is a very good reason why the Government of Canada does not allow placement fees for minimum wage, low-skilled work: they don’t want people thinking that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is a short cut to Permanent Residency.
For many years, there have been reports in both Canada and the Philippines of recruitment agencies and their representatives charging OFWs a minimum of CAD$5,000, only to have them be released-upon-arrival (RUA).
POEA has put these new rules in place to hold Canadian employers and their partner recruitment agencies in the Philippines accountable for their actions.
Illegal Recruitment in Canada
Illegal recruitment happens every day in Canada, to the point that it has become very much institutionalized.
Take, for example, Filipinos who pay manpower agencies (another name for recruitment agencies) $5,000 to go to Canada for “training”, then promise them they’ll get to stay and work afterwards.
They actually apply for tourist visas at the Canadian Embassy in Manila, being given instructions not to tell the visa officers that they have every intention to stay.
Yes, we’re talking about mushroom picker jobs in Canada. FYI, there are currently no jobs for mushroom pickers in Canada at this time.
Foreign nationals who travel to Canada on a Visitor Visa are not allowed to work. It is a violation of the conditions of their Visitor Visa and grounds for removal (deportation) from Canada.
While it is not impossible to transition from a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit, 99.99% of the time, you will be asked to go back to your country of residence and apply from there.
Canadian employers are required to look for Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents before asking for permission from the Government of Canada to hire OFWs.
A Tourist Visa (or a Visitor Visa) is NOT a shortcut to a Work Permit. It’s certainly not a shortcut to Permanent Residency.
If you paid any amount, keep receipts.
If you paid money to your recruitment agency for a job in Canada go straight to the POEA to file a complaint to try to get your money back. Canada is a no placement fee country.
This is also true for those already in Canada. If you have paid a recruitment fee (ESPECIALLY if you were released-upon-arrival) you should file a complaint against your Canadian employer (or Canadian recruitment agency) to get your money back.
Take note, however, that in some provinces (like Ontario) you have a limited time to do so.
Get help by contacting the labour officials from the POLO which has jurisdiction over your province of employment.
Check for valid job orders for Canada at the POEA website
POEA is advising prospective OFWs who want to work in Canada to visit the official POEA website to check the complete (and updated) list of recruitment agencies with valid job orders for Canada.