When a Canadian employer wants to hire a foreign worker to fill a labour shortage, unless the candidate and/or the position being offered is exempt, they usually have to provide a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
Whether it’s a temporary job offer through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, or a valid job offer through an economic immigration program, most Canadian employers will require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) before they can offer a job to a foreign candidate.
Canadian employers must apply for a LMIA, and pay an application fee, from ESDC. ESDC will evaluate, among other things, whether the employer has made a sufficient effort to find a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position.
After looking at the industry the employer operates in, as well as the hiring efforts they have made so far, ESDC will decide whether or not to issue a positive LMIA.
A positive LMIA, previously called a Labour Market Opinion (LMO), indicates that ESDC has decided that hiring a foreign worker for a specific position will not have a significant negative impact on the Canadian labour market. For that reason, LMIAs are issued for specific job positions, not for individual workers.
It is up to the employer to apply for a LMIA, not the worker. However, to apply for a temporary work permit, claim Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points under Express Entry for a job offer, or meet a “valid job offer” eligibility criteria, the worker must provide a copy of the LMIA and the LMIA number.
If a foreign worker is coming to Canada to work on a temporary basis, they will require a work permit. The large majority of Canadian work permits require a valid job offer from a Canadian employer and a positive LMIA. However, there are some categories of temporary work permits that are LMIA-exempt.
The International Mobility Program (IMP) lets employers hire temporary workers without an LMIA. These exemptions are based on broader economic, cultural, or other competitive advantages for Canada and reciprocal benefits enjoyed by Canadian and permanent residents. For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allows workers from NAFTA countries to work in specific occupations in other NAFTA countries without needing an LMIA.
Intra-company transfers are also LMIA exempt. That means that if your company has a branch office in Canada and wants to transfer you to it, they usually do not need a positive LMIA. However, they must prove that you are in a managerial or executive role in the company and/or have specialized industry knowledge.
Open work permits are always LMIA exempt, since they are not tied to a specific employer or position. If you have an open work permit, you are eligible to work for any Canadian employer anywhere in Canada, whether or not they have a positive LMIA for the position they are offering you.
Finally, work permits issued under the new Global Talent Stream of the TFWP do not require a traditional LMIA. Instead, employers must develop a Labour Market Benefits Plan with ESDC to demonstrate that their activities will have lasting, positive impacts on the Canadian labour market. Unlike a normal LIMA work permit, there is no recruitment requirement for work permits under the Global Talent Stream. So, employers don’t need to demonstrate that they tried, and failed, to find a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position.
A valid job offer from a Canadian employer is an eligibility criteria for many categories of economic immigration, including many provincial nominee programs and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program. Candidates in the federal Express Entry pool can also claim additional Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points if they receive a valid job offer.
Usually, a valid job offer must meet specific criteria explained in each program’s application guide. For example, a valid job offer usually must be full-time and non-seasonal, for at least one year. Some immigration programs may also require that the job offer be for a position that meets a certain skill level in the National Occupational Classification (NOC).
In most cases, valid job offers must be supported by a positive LMIA.
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