LMIA Work Permits

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) assessing the impact of recruiting a foreign national in Canada. A positive LMIA suggests that there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill a position, thereby entitling an employer to hire a foreign national. A negative LMIA stipulates that a position should be filled by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

A foreign national cannot apply for an LMIA. Rather, LMIAs are documents that can only be applied for by a Canadian employer. While sometimes it is possible to hire a foreign worker who is exempt from needing an LMIA, or who is exempt from requiring a work permit, all streams of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) require that an employer obtain an LMIA in order to hire a foreign national from outside of Canada. Most of Canada’s immigration pathways to permanent residency require that applicants show a positive LMIA in order to get points for a Canadian job offer.

LMIA Application

An employer can submit the application for LMIA upto 6 months in advance prior to the intended start date. LMIA application process varies significantly depending on the wage of the person being hired. Employers should reference the median hourly wages of their province or territory in order to deem whether their offer position is regarded high-wage or low-wage. In case of low-wage positions, additional eligibility criteria will apply.There are specialized streams for employers wishing to obtain LMIAs for certain areas of employment. These include:

  • Hiring In-Home Caregivers

  • Hiring Agricultural Workers

  • Hiring Foreign Academics

  • Hiring within the province of Quebec

LMIA Application Requirements

LMIA applications are submitted in hard copy, by mail, to the appropriate Service Canada Processing Centre. Applications must append evidence of the following criteria being met.

  • Processing Fee: All applications for LMIAs include a $1000 CAD processing fee which will not be refunded even in case of non – favourable outcome. Although certain applicants under the LMIAs for in-home caregivers may be exempt from this fee.

  • Transition Plan: Employers need to submit a plan demonstrating their intent to address the need to hire foreign nationals. In due course employers are expected to hire Canadian citizens and permanent residents

  • Business Legitimacy Documents: Documents that prove the employer’s status as a legitimate Canadian business.

  • Recruitment Efforts: Employers must submit evidence that in the past they have made due efforts to hire Canadian citizens and permanent residents to fill the position prior to hiring a TFW.

  • Wages: Applications must include information on the TFWs wages. These are meant to differentiate the high-wage positions from low-wage positions and warrant that TFWs are fairly paid the same wage as their Canadian counterparts

  • Workplace Safety: TFWs are fairly entitled to the same standards of workplace health and safety as Canadians in the same position. Henceforth employers must provide evidence that TFWs will be covered by insurance which is at minimum equivalent to the health coverage offered by the province or territory where the business is located.

Low-Wage Workers

Employers submitting LMIA applications for low-wage positions, must also meet the following three requirements:

  • Cap on TFWs: If an employer has previously hired TFWs they are subject to between 10% to 20% cap on number of TFW positions.

  • Transportation: Employers must provide low-wage workers with adequate transportation to and from Canada. This transportation is provided at the employer’s expense.

  • Housing: Low-wage workers must be provided with adequate housing for the duration of their employment in Canada.

What Happens After LMIA is Approved

Once the LMIA application has been processed, employers will be issued a decision. If the employer is issued a positive LMIA, then they can proceed with recruiting a foreign national. If a negative LMIA is issued then the employer is not permitted to hire a foreign national.

Please note that positive LMIAs are valid for 6 months from the date of issue. After receiving a positive LMIA, the employer must inform the foreign national so that they can proceed to apply for their work permit or permanent residence. In explicit conditions, employers might apply to have their LMIA application processed in 10 days. In order to qualify for expedited processing, an employer should be located outside of Quebec and meet one of the following requirements:

  • Highest wage positions: top 10% of wages earned by Canadians in the province/territory of the job

  • Express Entry: the LMIA is to assist an Express Entry candidate

  • Short-Term positions: 120 days or less

  • Skilled Trades: paid at least the median provincial/territorial wage for the position.