A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) assessing the impact of hiring a foreign national in Canada. A positive LMIA indicates that there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill a position, therefore enabling an employer to hire a foreign national. A negative LMIA indicates 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 which must 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 outside of Canada. As well, many of Canada’s immigration pathways to permanent residency require that applicants show a positive LMIA in order to claim points for a Canadian job offer.
An employer may submit an application for an LMIA as early as 6-months prior to the intended start date for the position. LMIA application procedures vary depending on the wage of the person being hired. Employers should consult the median hourly wages of their province or territory in order to determine whether their position is considered high-wage or low-wage, as low-wage positions will require the employer to meet additional criteria. There are specialized streams for employers wishing to obtain LMIAs for certain areas of employment. These include:
LMIA applications are submitted in hard copy, by mail, to the appropriate Service Canada Processing Centre. Applications must include evidence that the following criteria have been met:
Employers submitting LMIA applications for low-wage positions, must also address the following three requirements:
After an LMIA application has been processed, employers will be issued a decision. If the employer is issued a positive LMIA, they can proceed with hiring a foreign national. If a negative LMIA is issued then unfortunately the employer is not approved to hire a foreign national.
Positive LMIAs are valid for 6 months from the date of issue. After receiving a positive LMIA, the employer must notify the foreign national so that they can apply for their work permit or permanent residence. In certain conditions, employers may apply to have their LMIA application processed in 10 days. To qualify for expedited processing, an employer must be located outside of Quebec and meet one of the following requirements:
If an employer is hiring a TFW to be paid at or above the median hourly wage for their province or territory then they must go through the high-wage workers stream for LMIAs. If an employer is hiring a TFW to be paid below the median hourly wage then they must go through the low-wage workers stream.
|Province/Territory||2021 Wage ($/Hour)||2022 Wage ($/Hour)|
|Wages prior to April 30, 2022||Wages as of April 30, 2022
|Newfoundland and Labrador||23.00||24.29|
|Prince Edward Island||20.00||21.63|
In certain cases, it may not be necessary for an employer to obtain an LMIA in order to hire a foreign worker. The majority of LMIA exemptions are managed through the International Mobility Program. Learn more about LMIA-exemptions and about exemptions from requiring a work permit.
The province of Quebec retains significant autonomy over its immigration policies and procedures. For this reason, the province has a few unique distinctions regarding the hiring of foreign workers. The facilitated LMIA process allows Quebec employers to apply for LMIAs without needing to provide evidence that they made efforts to recruit a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position. Learn more about the requirements for a facilitated LMIA.
The Global Talent Stream (GTS) is a two-year pilot program launched in June 2017 through a partnership between Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The GTS assists certain Canadian employers to hire highly-skilled global talent enabling them to compete on an international scale. Employers who are successfully referred to the program will be able to expedite the process for hiring foreign nationals through the Global Skills Strategy.
Canada’s International Mobility Program enables high-skilled foreign nationals to work temporarily in Canada as intra-company transferees. If a foreign national is an employee of a company in a location outside of Canada, they may be eligible to obtain an LMIA-exempt work permit to transfer to one of the company’s locations within Canada. The intra-company transferee rule applies to all countries.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) encompasses an expansive array of trade protocols between Canada, the United States, and Canada. NAFTA provides unique opportunities for the authorization of citizens of the United States and Mexico to work in Canada. Those foreign nationals covered by NAFTA provisions may be eligible to work in Canada without the requirement for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or a work permit.
The Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) encompasses an expansive array of trade protocols between Canada and EU member nations. CETA provides unique opportunities for the authorization of citizens EU nations to work in Canada. Those foreign nationals covered by CETA provisions may be eligible to work in Canada without the requirement for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or a work permit.
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