As a foreign national, migrating to Canada to work on a temporary work visa can make a lot of sense. Having a temporary work visa can be lucrative in many ways:
- Working on a foreign land makes you a part of the global network and opens a floodgate of lucrative opportunities for the future.
- Canada is going through major labour shortages in one of the most lucrative industries and hence you can find financially lucrative opportunities in Canada.
- Working in Canada helps you qualify under CEC (Canadian Experience Class) and also adds additional points in your overall CRS score thereby solidifying your chances of permanent residence in Canada.
However, getting a work permit is a bit more complicated than filing for permanent residence. Before you apply for a temporary work permit, your Canadian employer needs to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to justify that there is a clear labour shortage for your role in Canada and hiring a temporary foreign worker is the only option.
Thinking, what is an LMIA, and why is it required? In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about LMIA.
In this article, we will cover:
- What is a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?
- Do I need to apply for an LMIA to get a job in Canada?
- Who needs a Labour Market Impact Assessment?
- Can I get a work permit without an LMIA?
- LMIA application process for Canadian employers
- Requirements for a Canadian LMIA
- Do employees need to pay a fee for LMIA?
- What is the LMIA processing time in Canada?
- My LMIA was approved. What’s next?
- How to apply for a work permit after LMIA approval
What is a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?
An LMIA or Labour Market Impact Assessment is a permission document that Canadian employers require before they could hire a skilled foreign worker to work in Canada.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) issues LMIAs after assessing the impact of hiring a foreign skilled worker on the overall Canadian labour market. A positive LMIA is a confirmation that hiring a foreign worker is necessary as there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident who will be able to fill this position giving the employer a go-ahead to hire the foreign worker on a temporary basis.
Do I need to apply for an LMIA to get a job in Canada?
You can’t apply for LMIA. The onus of applying for an LMIA lies with the employer looking to hire you for their company.
Please note: Even though you can’t apply for LMIA, you do need a positive LMIA in order to apply for your temporary work permit.
Who needs a Labour Market Impact Assessment?
An LMIA is required by a skilled foreign national looking to come to Canada on a temporary basis for work. The temporary work permit is an employer-specific work permit that doesn’t allow you to work with any other employer.
Please note: If you possess an open work permit, you can work with any employer in almost any industry with no LMIA required.
Can I get a work permit without an LMIA?
There are a few exceptions listed by the Government of Canada where LMIA is not needed, or a work permit may not be required. Some of these include:
- Exemptions under public policies:
- In special cases, for a small amount of time, work permits may be issued without an LMIA under the Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident pathway.
- In addition to this, Hong Kong residents are exempted from LMIAs while applying for a work permit in Canada.
- Certain permanent residence applicants and their spouses are exempt from LMIA requirements:
- Francophone immigrants that is Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ) holders
- Permanent resident applicants under the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP)
- Home Child Care Provider Pilot (HCCPP) and Home Support Worker Pilot (HSWP)
- Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP),
- Start-up business class
- International students in Canada and their spouses:
- International students who have completed a minimum six-month long study program on a valid study permit do not require an LMIA to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week.
- Spouses and partners of full-time students are also issued an open work permit, that is they can work for any employer in any industry of their choice.
- Spouses/partners of foreign skilled workers who:
- Are working under an AIP work permit,
- Hold a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ),
- Are provincial nominees
- Have bridging open work permit
- Have open work permit
- Are eligible for a spousal open work permit
- International agreements or arrangements:
- LMIA is not required for investors coming to Canada under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), Canada-UK Trade Continuity Agreement (CUKTCA), Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP),
- Intra-company transferees, professionals or technicians, as well as their spouses under specific international agreements.
- Work aligned with Canadian interests:
- Foreign nationals that show an intention to work in fields that create social, cultural or economic benefits for Canadian nationals. For example: airline personnel, television and film production workers, fishing guides, emergency repair personnel, and more.
- Exemptions for humanitarian reasons:
- This includes refugees, persons under an unenforceable removal order, destitute students, and vulnerable workers.
LMIA application process for Canadian employers
As mentioned earlier, LMIA needs to be applied and secured by the Canadian employer once they are convinced that they can not fill the vacancy in Canada. Before making a job offer to a foreign skilled worker, they must double check whether an LMIA is needed or not. If it is required, they then have to gather all the essential documents, and submit an application to ESDC.
Here’s an overview of the LMIA application process:
Step 1 – Determine if an LMIA is needed
Before starting the overall hiring process, employers must double check whether they would require an LMIA for the vacant position. They can do so by going through all the exceptions and checking whether the temporary foreign worker hired for the job will be exempt from an LMIA. If an exemption code applies, then their job as an employer will be relatively easy as they simply have to include the code in your employment offer.
Please note: Before hiring a temporary foreign skilled worker from a visa-exempt country, the employer must contact the International Mobility Workers Unit to confirm whether an LMIA is needed or not.
Step 2 – Submit an LMIA application to ESDC
If an LMIA is required, employers must file an application with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). In order to file an application, the employers must have a Job Bank user account so that they can complete the process online.
The application process depends upon the category under which temporary foreign workers are being hired.
There are four key LMIA categories:
- High-wage workers
- Low-wage workers
- Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program
- Agricultural stream.
For high and low wage jobs, employers need to submit an LMIA application minimum six months before the planned job start date. For a high-wage position, employment duration can be up to three years whereas for low-wage positions and Agricultural stream, it can be for up to two years. Under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, employer duration can be up to eight months.
In order to submit an LMIA application, employers must submit
- Proof of recruitment
- Proof of business legitimacy
- A filled-in and signed application form
- A processing fee for each requested position.
Please note, in case of low-wage positions and recruitment under the Agricultural stream, a copy of the employment contract needs to be submitted in addition to the above mentioned documents.
Step 3 – Wait for the LMIA application to be assessed
After an LMIA application is submitted, ESDC will assess it to determine whether the business and the job offer are legitimate. The ESDC will further ensure that hiring a temporary foreign worker will have no negative impact on the Canadian labour market. After due diligence, the employer will receive either a positive or negative LMIA.
Requirements for a Canadian LMIA
There are several requirements that qualify an employer for hiring a foreign temporary worker and applying for an LMIA. Some of these include:
Proof that their business they are hiring for and the job offer they are rolling out legitimate
Employers must submit a proof that their business is legitimate and there is an actual vacancy and an immediate need to hire a temporary foreign worker. You can submit either of the following documents:
- Documents from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), such as T2 Schedule that is balance sheet or income statement information
- T2125 that is statement of business or professional activities
- T4 or payroll records for past six weeks
- An attestation confirming the good financial standing of the business.
Your employer also has to show that the business is legal. For this, they can submit their business license, PD7A statement of account for current source deductions, T4 summary of remuneration paid, or attestation from a lawyer or Chartered Professional Accountant.
A transition plan
Employers applying for an LMIA would have to submit a transition plan including details of activities and the list of actions the employer is going to take in order to reduce their dependence on the temporary foreign worker. It can also include the employer’s plan to help TFWs apply for permanent residence. Once a positive LMIA is issued, the employer must regularly report to ESDC about the progress on the transition plan.
Please note: A transition plan is not needed for LMIAs issued for caregiver roles, jobs that require a unique skill, time-limited jobs, or agriculture-related positions.
Proof of recruitment or advertisement
Employers must also prove that they tried to recruit from the existing pool of talent resource in Canada but failed to find a perfect match. For this, they need to attach a proof of advertisement and recruitment activities, that is copies of ads that targeted an appropriate audience.
For high and low-wage positions, employers must advertise on the government’s Job Bank and use minimum two additional recruitment processes such as employment or classified websites, participation in job fairs, newspaper advertisements, or internal recruitment.
The recruitment efforts must be done for a reasonable period of time. For example, advertisements must be placed for four consecutive weeks within the three months preceding the LMIA application. Recruitment efforts must continue till the time the LMIA is issued.
The wages offered to a temporary foreign worker must be at par with those paid to Canadian nationals. Employers must pay TFWs either the median wage listed on Job Bank or the wages being paid to current employees in similar roles, whichever is higher.
Please note: The ESDC only accounts for guaranteed wages and does not consider overtime pay, commissions, bonuses, and benefits while evaluating whether the wage being offered is fair.
Additional requirements for low-wage and agricultural positions
For hiring low-wage, seasonal or other agricultural workers, the employer has to bear the following costs:
- Transportation expenses to and from their work location in Canada and their country of residence.
- Arrange suitable affordable housing that costs less than 30 per cent of their before-tax income.
- Ensure that the workers are covered by health insurance, provincial or private, from their first day in Canada at no cost.
Do employees need to pay a fee for LMIA?
An employee doesn’t have to pay any LMIA processing fees. Your employer has to pay $1,000 for each position they intend to fill.
What is the average processing time for LMIA in Canada?
The average processing time based on the stream under which temporary foreign workers are hired ranges between five and 46 business days.
LMIA applications for high and low-wage talent and for in-home caregivers usually take more than 40 days. However, applications under the Global Talent Stream, agricultural stream, seasonal agricultural worker Program, and permanent residence stream are processed within five to 16 business days.
Expedited LMIA processing is available for skilled trade positions on the list of eligible occupations, high-paid jobs, job offers made to Express Entry applicants, and short-duration employment positions.
My LMIA was approved. What’s next?
Once a positive LMIA is issued, your employer will:
- Send over the employment contract which must be signed by both you and your employer. You will also get a final copy for your records.
- Provide you a copy of the LMIA letter, along with its Annexure A so that you can attach it with your work permit application.
- Ask you to apply for the work permit asap as the LMIA is usually valid for 18 months.
Please note: If you’re immigrating to Canada under the Atlantic Immigration Program, Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, or another PR program that requires a job offer, you need to file a PR application once you have received an LMIA.
How to apply for a work permit after LMIA approval
After an LMIA is issued, you need to apply for your work permit.
Step 1 – Gather necessary documents for your work permit application
Make a list of all documents required to be attached with your work permit application. These documents typically include
- A copy of your job offer
- LMIA provided by your employer
- Identification proof
- Documents showing that you possess the skills needed by the employer. You can include your resume, educational credentials and employment reference letters for this.
- Proof of your relationship with the family members accompanying you.
- Some country-specific documents as required by the local visa office.
Step 2 – Prepare your work permit application
You can either submit a paper-based application or create an IRCC account and apply online. We always suggest our clients to apply online as the processing time is much faster and there are lesser chances of any unnecessary fallout.
Step 3 – Pay the fees and submit your application
The processing fees depend on the type of work permit you are applying for. Print copies of your payment receipt and attach them to your application. Online applications can be submitted directly but for paper-based applications, you must submit to your local visa office.
Step 4 – Give biometrics, if needed
After submitting your application, you may have to submit your biometrics at the local Visa Application Centre (VAC). The IRCC may also ask for any additional information, or documentation, or medical test results before processing your work permit application.
Receive your port of entry letter of introduction
Once your application is approved, you will receive a port of entry letter of introduction by IRCC permitting you to work in Canada. You will have to show this letter to border officials in order to enter Canada.
A TFW visa is a great way to get global exposure and it also opens a path to permanent residence. The recent five pillar strategy by Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada, lays special emphasis on helping temporary workers to become permanent residents in Canada.
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