In most cases, employers are required to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before they can hire foreign workers. In order to obtain a positive LMIA, a Canadian employer must prove that there is no Canadian or permanent resident worker available to complete the job in question and a foreign worker is therefore required.
LMIA applications should show the following:
The positive LMIA is provided to the foreign worker to submit with his/her application for a work permit, which is typically issued for one year if granted.
LMIAs are overseen by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and have an associated application fee of $1,000 for each temporary foreign worker position applied for.
There are shorter processing times of 10 days available for highest-demand, highest paid and shortest duration occupations, i.e. skilled trades within top 10% of pay bracket and for positions that are less than 120 days.
The LMIA process is different depending on whether the targeted employee is classified as “high-wage” or “low-wage”. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage are considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above are considered high-wage. Depending on whether a prospective employee is classified as high-wage or low-wage, certain specific provisions apply.
Employers seeking to hire high-wage workers must submit transition plans along with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to ensure that they are taking steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time. High-wage workers are those earning above the median hourly wage for a given occupation in specified region.
The transition plans are designed to ensure that employers seeking foreign workers are fulfilling the purpose of the program. This entails that they are using the program as a last and limited resort to address immediate labour needs on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available, ensuring that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs.
Certain occupations in Quebec are "facilitated", meaning that local recruitment efforts do not need to be performed by employers as part of their applications to hire temporary foreign workers for any of the facilitated occupations.
Employers seeking to hire low-wage workers do not need to submit transition plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). They must, however, follow a different set of guidelines.
To restrict access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), while ensuring that Canadians are always considered first for available jobs, the Government of Canada has introduced a cap to limit the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers that a business can employ. Furthermore, certain low-wage occupations may be refused for LMIA processing. Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA are subject to a cap of 10 percent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers. This cap will be phased in over 2015 and 2016 in order to provide employers who are above the 10 percent cap time to transition and adjust accordingly.
Employers offering a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage must:
As of April 30, 2015, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program uses the latest Labour Force Survey results for the unemployment rates in regions across Canada. These rates determine which regions are eligible for employers to submit Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) for low-wage/lower skilled occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services sector and the Retail Trade sector. LMIA applications for these sectors will not be processed in economic regions where the unemployment rate is 6 per cent or higher.
Given its unique labour market conditions, and as requested by the Government of the Northwest Territories, applications in these sectors for positions located in Yellowknife will be accepted for processing.
LMIAs will be provided within a 10-business-day service standard for workers in the following occupational categories:
The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to skilled trades positions where the wage offered is at or above the provincial/territorial median wage. These positions are essential to the development of major infrastructure and natural resource extraction projects, and are therefore considered vital to Canadian economic growth.
Closed LMIA-exempt work permits authorize a foreign national to work in a specific position for a specific employer, but don’t need a positive LMIA. Usually, whether or not a closed work permit is LMIA-exempt depends on the nature of the job.
This exemption can be applied if your employer is able to prove that you will bring an important social, cultural, or economic benefit to Canada. For example:
This exemption allows foreign workers the opportunity work in Canada in specific industries where Canadians have similar opportunities in other countries. For example:
Foreign nationals who want to work for themselves or operate their own business temporarily in Canada need to demonstrate that their business would generate significant economic, social, or cultural benefits for Canadian citizens or permanent residents to be granted a LMIA exemption.
International companies can temporarily transfer employees to a Canadian branch without requiring an LMIA.
French-speaking skilled workers who have a valid job offer in a province or territory outside of Quebec may be exempt from needing an LMIA.
Some international Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) contain provisions to make it easier for business people to work temporarily in the signed countries. While foreign workers covered by an applicable FTA still usually need a closed work permit, they are exempt from the LMIA requirement. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are both examples.
Canada also participates in some international youth exchange programs that allow young people to travel and work in Canada without requiring an LMIA. For example, the Young Professionals category of International Experience Canada for individuals with a job offer in Canada that contributes to their professional development.
This exemption applies to specific situations and is at the discretion of the Minister of Immigration. For example:
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