Exemptions to LMIA Requirements

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO), is a document issued by Economic and Social Development Canada (ESDC) assessing the impact of employing a foreign worker in Canada. A positive LMIA confirms that there is a need for a temporary foreign worker, while a negative LMIA asserts that a Canadian should be employed in the position. While an LMIA is usually required for a Canadian employer to hire a temporary foreign worker, there are a number of exemptions to the LMIA requirement.

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An LMIA-exemption refers to a situation in which it is not necessary for a Canadian employer to obtain an LMIA in order to hire a temporary foreign worker. ESDC along with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) maintain an index of LMIA-exemptions which are organized through the International Mobility Program. For further information on LMIA-exemptions, including the most common types of LMIA-exemptions available through the International Mobility Program, continue reading below.

International Mobility Program

The International Mobility Program (IMP) enables Canadian employers to hire temporary foreign workers without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). While most employers hiring foreign workers will require an LMIA, there are certain circumstances where LMIA-exemptions exist. These LMIA exemptions are based on the following conditions:

  • broader economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada; and
  • reciprocal benefits enjoyed by Canadians and permanent residents.

In order to hire a foreign worker through the IMP, a Canadian employer must follow three steps:

  • Confirm the position or worker in question qualifies for an LMIA-exemption;
  • Pay the employer compliance fee of $230 CAD;
  • Submit the official job offer through the IMP’s Employer Portal.

Only after completing these three steps will the foreign national be eligible to apply for their own work permit. LMIA-exempt workers may qualify for expedited work permit processing through the Global Skills Strategy if their position is NOC Skill Level A or 0 and they are applying from outside of Canada.

International Agreements

A significant number of LMIA-exemptions are available through international agreements between Canada and other countries. Certain types of employees can transfer to Canada from other countries, and vice versa, if they are able to demonstrate this will have a positive impact. Canada has negotiated the following Free Trade Agreements, each encompassing a range of LMIA-exemptions:

Canadian Interest Exemptions

Another popular category of LMIA-exemptions fall under the broad category of Canadian Interest exemptions. LMIA-exemptions under this category must demonstrate that the exemption will be in the best interest of Canada, either by being of significant benefit to Canadians or through the maintenance of reciprocal employment relationships with other nations.

In order to qualify for an LMIA-exemption under the category of significant benefit for Canadians, the employment of a foreign national must demonstrate significant social or cultural benefit to Canada. Generally, immigration officers will assess a foreign national’s past track record of success and examine testimony and recommendations of distinguished experts in the foreign nationals field in order to determine significant benefit.

Intra-Company Transferees

Another means of securing LMIA-exemption for significant benefit is through the provision of LMIA-exemptions for intra-company transferees. Through this provision, certain companies may transfer a foreign national to a Canadian location in order to improve the quality of their business for the benefit of Canadians.

Additional LMIA-Exemptions

While the majority of LMIA-exemptions are granted due to either international agreements or Canadian interest, there are a number of LMIA-exemptions outside of these categories. In some cases, LMIA-exemptions are granted for humanitarian and compassionate reasons. As well, certain candidates for Canadian permanent residency may be eligible to apply for LMIA-exempt work permits.

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