LMIA Canada Work Permits (Who can apply?)

LMIA Canada Work Permits (Who can apply?)

Immigrating to Canada as a worker typically involves obtaining a job offer from a Canadian employer. The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a crucial step in this process, as it assesses how the foreign worker will have an impact on the Canadian labor market, making sure that the genuine need of the worker is fulfilled where Canadian workers are not able to fill that position.

What is the LMIA Work Permit?

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that evaluates the impact of hiring a foreigner in Canada, which means Canadian employers would need to hire foreign worker to fill some position that Canadian workers are not able to.

A positive LMIA means no Canadian can fill the job, allowing the employer to hire a foreigner. Conversely, a negative LMIA suggests the position should be filled by a Canadian.

A foreign national cannot apply for an LMIA directly. Rather, LMIAs are documents that must be applied for by a Canadian employer. While there are exceptions for certain foreign workers who do not require an LMIA, however, all streams of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) require that an employer obtain an LMIA to hire outside of Canada. Also certain LMIA can be used to show some additional points to get Canadian permanent residency in some immigration pathways.

Types of LMIA (Streams)

These are some of the most common and popular LMIA Streams used to hire foreign nationals.

  1. High-Wage Stream: For higher-wage positions in Canada.
  2. Low-Wage Stream: For lower-wage positions in Canada.
  3. Global Talent Stream: Streams help to hire highly skilled foreign workers into Canada to support innovation and economic growth.
  4. Agricultural Stream: Specifically for employers in the agriculture and farming sector.
  5. In-Home Caregiver Stream: For employers seeking to hire caregivers to provide in-home care.
  6. Applications to support permanent residency: Submit applications to facilitate permanent residency by employing a skilled temporary foreign worker through an immigration program.

What is the LMIA Application?

Employers can apply for an LMIA up to 6 months before the job starts. Employers submit an application to ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada also known as Service Canada. Employers share details about job like duties, wage, and working conditions.

ESDC then checks if hiring a foreign worker is needed and if it’s good for the Canadian job market. They look at factors like the availability of Canadian workers, the wages, benefits for foreign worker, and working conditions.

If the LMIA application is approved, the employer gets a positive LMIA. This lets them offer the job to a foreign worker. The foreign worker then uses this to apply for a work permit through IRCC.

LMIA Application Requirements for Employer

  • Processing Fees: When applying for an LMIA, a $1000 CAD processing fee is required, non-refundable even if the result is negative. Some LMIAs may be exempt from these fees.
  • Business Legitimacy Documents: You also need documents confirming your status as a legitimate Canadian business.
  • Job Offer: To apply for an LMIA, you need to provide a detailed job offer, including job duties, wage, and working conditions. This offer should be for a position you couldn’t fill with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • Recruitment Efforts: Employers also need to show they tried to hire Canadians by providing evidence of recruitment efforts, like posting job ads on Canadian websites or reaching out to local job agencies. Some streams require specific advertising steps, like posting on job websites for underrepresented groups.
  • Wage Rate: The wage you offer to the foreign worker should match the prevailing rate for that job in the region. Check the Government of Canada’s Job Bank website (except for Quebec) or follow Quebec’s guide for the correct wage, updated yearly.
  • Transition Plan: Employers must submit a plan on how they’ll eventually hire Canadians instead of foreign workers who are in temporary status.
  • Workplace Safety: To ensure workplace safety, foreign workers must receive the same health and safety standards as Canadians. Employers must show evidence that the insurance coverage for foreign workers is at least equal to what the province or territory offers.

Who Can Apply for an LMIA in Canada?

The classification of a position as high-wage or low-wage is primarily determined by comparing the wage rate offered to the median hourly wage for the occupation in the specific region.

High-Wage Positions

These are job positions that offer a wage higher than the median hourly wage for a particular occupation in a specific region.

Employers hiring for high-wage positions need to meet certain requirements and criteria set by the LMIA process. These requirements may include demonstrating efforts to recruit Canadian citizens or permanent residents, providing a transition plan to hire Canadians in the future, and ensuring workplace safety standards for foreign workers.

Low-Wage Positions

Low-wage positions are those that offer a wage below the median hourly wage for a specific occupation in a particular region.

Employers hiring for low-wage positions face additional criteria and responsibilities compared to high-wage positions such as:

  • Advertise Job: They may be required to advertise the job in a specified way, and the LMIA process aims to ensure that the employment of foreign workers in low-wage positions does not negatively impact the Canadian labor market.
  • CAP limit: The number of people employer can hire is limited by a CAP limit, calculated as a percentage of the existing full-time and part-time workforce. This CAP percentage varies based on the company’s current staff size and industry.
  • Transportation: Employers are responsible for covering the cost of providing suitable transportation for low-wage workers to and from Canada.
  • Housing: Employers must ensure low-wage workers have proper housing throughout their employment in Canada

Median hourly wages by province or territory (source canada.ca)

Province/TerritoryMedian Hourly Wages prior to May 31, 2023Median Hourly Wages as of May 31, 2023
British Columbia$26.44$27.50
New Brunswick$21.79$23.00
Newfoundland and Labrador$24.29$25.00
Northwest Territories$37.30$38.00
Nova Scotia$22.00$22.97
Prince Edward Island$21.63$22.50

How to Apply for Work Permit after obtaining LMIA?

Once the applicant successfully obtain LMIA, they can apply for their work permit based on LMIA:

  1. Collect Documents: Gather required documents, including the positive LMIA, job offer, qualifications, and passport.
  2. Visit IRCC Website: Access work permit forms and guidelines on the official Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.
  3. Complete Form and Pay Fee: Fill out the application form, pay the fee online, and submit it along with supporting documents.
  4. Wait for Processing: Check processing times on the IRCC website and wait for updates on your application status.
  5. Biometrics and Medical Exam: Provide biometrics if required and undergo a medical examination if necessary.
  6. Receive Work Permit: Upon approval, receive your work permit, check details, and travel to Canada for employment.

What is an LMIA Exempt Work Permit?

An LMIA-exempt work permit lets a foreign worker come to Canada without their employer needing to get an LMIA first. This way, the foreign worker can apply for work permit and start working in Canada without the employer going through the LMIA process.

LMIA Exemption Programs

The International Mobility Program (IMP) is a program enabling employers to hire foreign workers without requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This program addresses labor shortages, fosters knowledge exchange, and attracts skilled talent to canada. It offers LMIA-exempt work permits, including:

1. Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Work Permit

Allows multinational companies to temporarily transfer employees to Canada with specialized knowledge or in senior management positions.

2. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Work Permit

Permits citizens from countries with free trade agreements (e.g., NAFTA, CETA, CPTPP) to work in Canada without an LMIA work permit.

3. International Experience Canada (IEC) Work Permit

Enables young people from select countries to work and travel in Canada for up to two years under categories like Working Holiday, Young Professional, and International Co-op.

4. Global Talent Stream (GTS) Work Permit

Global Talent Stream lets Canadian employers bring in highly skilled foreign workers in STEM fields without needing an LMIA Work permit, addressing high-demand positions.

5. Researcher Work Permit

Allows foreign researchers employed by designated Canadian research organizations to conduct temporary research activities in Canada.

6. CETA Work Permits

CETA, the Canada-EU trade agreement, offers special work opportunities for citizens of EU member nations in Canada. Those covered by CETA may work in Canada without needing a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or a work permit.

After LMIA is approved what is the next step?

Once an LMIA application is reviewed, employers receive a decision. A positive LMIA Canada allows them to hire a foreign national, while a negative LMIA means they can’t hire one.

Positive LMIAs are valid for 6 months. Employers with a positive LMIA must inform the foreign national, who can then apply for a work permit or in some cases PR, after LMIA is approved that’s the next steps that needs to be done.

In certain cases, employers can request expedited processing in 10 days if they are outside Quebec and meet criteria like having high-wage positions, skilled trades, short-term positions (120 days or less), or if the LMIA is for an Express Entry candidate.

How long does it take to get LMIA approved?

Processing time for LMIA may vary by different factors, such as type of job, type of LMIA stream, Location, time of year, and many other factors. Below is the average processing time of LMIA and its streams:

Application TypeAverage Processing Time (Business Days)
Global Talent Stream6
Agricultural Stream12
Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program8
Permanent Resident Stream77
In-home Caregivers23
High-wage Stream44
Low-wage Stream49

LMIA Applications in Quebec

Quebec employers hiring foreign workers follow a similar LMIA process with a few distinctions. If eligible for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, no LMIA is needed; otherwise, apply through the federal government.

Submit a provincial application (“Demande de Sélection Temporaire”) alongside the federal LMIA, and if both are approved, you get an LMIA approval letter. Include this with the work permit application, and the worker gets a Certificate of Acceptance of Quebec (CAQ).

Both documents have the same validity period. The LMIA Canada process in Quebec is akin to the rest of Canada, but proof of the provincial application (DST) submission is required.

LMIA Exceptions in Quebec

The Quebec Acceptation Certificate

If a foreign national hasn’t applied for permanent residence, they may qualify for an LMIA-exempt work permit using the Québec Acceptation Certificate (CAQ).

Facilitated LMIA Processing for Quebec Employers

Québec employers can apply for an LMIA without proving recruitment efforts through facilitated processing by ESDC and MIFI. The list of eligible occupations, updated annually, focuses on high-demand professions and industries facing labor shortages in Québec.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does LMIA cost?

When an employer applies for LMIA, the employer has to pay a non-refundable $1000 per application fees, in some cases, it could be less or none (eg; home caregiver program).

Is it hard to get LMIA?

Yes, obtaining an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) can be challenging due to the stringent requirements and criteria set by the ESDC. Employers hast to give complete and distinctive information about, job offers, requirements, job efforts, and why they need foreign worker, all this could be challenging and time-consuming.

What is the difference between an open work permit and a closed work permit?

Open work permits allow you to work for any employer, while employer-specific (closed) work permits tie you to a specific job and employer. Most LMIAs are closed work permits which means you have only a specific employer or job you can work for.

When Does an LMIA Expire?

An LMIA in Canada is valid for 6 months from the date of issue. Once LMIA is issued, the applicant has 6 months to apply for a Work Permit from the date of LMIA is approved.

What documents do I need for LMIA?

For an LMIA in Canada, you generally need a completed application form, job offer details, proof of recruitment efforts, wage information, employer business documents, and payment of the processing fee. You may need some additional documents depending on the job.


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