LMIA – Labour Market Impact Assessment

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.

Contact us to discuss your work permit needs

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.

LMIA Application

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 Application Requirements

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:

  • Processing Fee: All applications for LMIAs include a $1000 CAD processing fee which will not be refunded even if the result is negative. Certain applicants under the LMIAs for in-home caregivers may be exempt from this fee.
  • Business Legitimacy Documents: Documents proving that the employer’s status as a legitimate Canadian business.
  • Transition Plan: Employers must submit a plan for how they intend to address the need to hire foreign nationals. Eventually, employers are expected to hire Canadian citizens and permanent residents rather than TFWs.
  • Recruitment Efforts: Employers must submit evidence that they made substantial efforts to recruit Canadian citizens and permanent residents to fill the position prior to hiring a TFW.
  • Wages: Applications must include information regarding the TFWs wages. This will differentiate the high-wage positions from low-wage positions and ensure that TFWs are paid the same amount for labour as their Canadian equals.
  • Workplace Safety: TFWs are entitled to the same standards of workplace health and safety as Canadians in the same position. For this reason, 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 address the following three requirements:

  • Cap on TFWs: If an employer has previously hired TFWs they
  • 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

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:

  • Highest wage positions: top 10% of wages earned by Canadians in the province/territory of the job
  • Skilled Trades: paid at least the median provincial/territorial wage for the position.
  • Short-Term positions: 120 days or less
  • Express Entry: the LMIA is to assist an Express Entry candidate

Median Hourly Wages by Province or Territory

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/TerritoryWages prior to May 31, 2023Wages as of May 31, 2023
British Columbia26.4427.50
New Brunswick21.7923.00
Newfoundland and Labrador24.2925.00
Northwest Territories37.3038.00
Nova Scotia22.0022.97
Prince Edward Island21.6322.50

Exemptions to LMIA Requirements

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.

Facilitated LMIA (Quebec)

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.

Global Talent Stream

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.

Intra-Company Transfers

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.

NAFTA Work Permits

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.

CETA Work Permits

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.

Ready to

Contact Us

Do you have questions about working in Canada or hiring a foreign worker? Contact us today to see how we can help!


Contact us to discuss your work permit needs

Related Links

Free assessment

Discover your Canadian immigration options. Get your free assessment now!