What’s a Labour Market Impact Assessment and when it is required?
A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document that may be required when applying for certain work permits in Canada.
Basically, your prospective employer in Canada must show that no Canadian worker or permanent resident is available to do the job, and that only a foreign worker (preferably you!) can fill the position.
LMIAs are assessed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
For which work permit types is an LMIA required? Which are exempt from the LMIA process?
An LMIA is only required when applying for a closed work permit, i.e. an employer-specific work permit. Typically, you find a Canadian employer, the Canadian employer proves that no one can fill the vacant position in Canada, then your closed work permit application can start, and if successful you will work in Canada for this specific employer.
Open work permits don’t require an LMIA because you don’t need to find an employer before coming to Canada and you can change employers as many times as you want throughout your work permit’s validity period. For instance, you won’t have to go through the LMIA process if you apply for a Working Holiday work permit or if you’re eligible for an Open work permit for spouses or common-law partners of a work permit holder working in a skilled position OR studying in a Canadian post-secondary school.
Lost? Let’s put it this way:
- Work permits issued under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are closed work permits. An LMIA is required.
- Work permits issued under the International Mobility Program can be either closed or open work permits, but an LMIA isn’t required either way.
So what closed work permits are exempt from the LMIA process?
Many closed work permits actually let a Canadian employer hire a temporary worker without an LMIA. Different exceptions can apply—bilateral agreements established by the Government of Canada with foreign governments, federal and province agreements, specific labour market conditions, etc.
The following closed work permits don’t require an LMIA and are the ones you’re most likely to consider:
- Young Professionals work permits and International Co-op—Internship work permits, under the International Experience Canada program (exemption C21)
- Mobilité francophone work permits (exemption C16)
- Permanent resident facilitation work permit categories such as Bridging open work permits (BOWPs) or Certain Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ) holders currently in Quebec (exemption A75)
- Work permits for Intra-company transferees (Exemption C12)
How can I find out whether my future employer needs to go through the LMIA process?
Use this simple tool, provided by the Government of Canada.
Who handles the LMIA process? Is it my responsibility or the employer’s?
Your prospective employer must apply for the LMIA and it’s assessed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
There are four different “streams”:
- Hire a temporary foreign worker in a high-wage position
- Hire a temporary foreign worker in a low-wage position
- Hire a temporary worker through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program
- Hire a temporary foreign worker through the Agricultural Stream
The wage being offered for the position will determine if the employer needs to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment under the Stream for High-wage Positions or the Stream for Low-wage Positions.
If the employer is offering a wage to a temporary foreign worker that is:
- at or above the provincial or territorial median hourly wage, they must apply under the Stream for high-wage positions
- below the provincial or territorial median hourly wage, they must apply under the Stream for low-wage positions
Note that if your employer is in Quebec, you must fill out the Demande de sélection temporaire—Programme des travailleurs étrangers temporaires and give it to your prospective employer in order to get a Quebec Acceptance Certificate. You must provide all required supporting documents and pay the $210 fee (as of January 2022).
What’s the fee for an LMIA? Are there other fees to pay?
The application fee for an LMIA is $1000. The employer pays the fees, and the Government of Canada states that as a temporary foreign worker, your employer can’t “make you pay them back for fees they paid to hire you.”
The $1000 fee will not be refunded if the application is denied.
Even if your work permit is exempt from the LMIA process, employers generally have to pay a $230 compliance fee. Certain employers are exempt from paying the compliance fee if the foreign worker is exempt from paying the work permit processing fee.
You will have to pay a work permit fee ($155) and a biometrics fee ($85), so budget $238. IEC work permits have slightly lower fees—$153 plus $85 for Young Professionals and International Co-op—Internship work permits.
What’s the processing times for an LMIA?
It can take anywhere from a few weeks up to a few months. You can check current Average Labour Market Impact Assessment processing times on this page.
Note that your prospective employer also has to show that they weren’t able to hire a Canadian worker, which includes posting the vacant position on the Government of Canada’s Job Bank for at least four weeks, so don’t forget to add recruitment efforts to hire Canadians and permanent residents to the timeline.
Quebec employers may be able to skip the proof of recruitment efforts if they’re hiring a temporary foreign worker in one of the positions on the labour shortage list. The rest of the LMIA process still applies and processing times are the same.
How about the Global Skills Strategy’s two-week processing times?
If you need an LMIA, you may qualify for two-week processing if you meet all of these requirements:
- you are applying from outside Canada
- you have a positive LMIA through the Global Talent Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (this will be on the LMIA decision letter).
Certain conditions apply:
- The employer has been referred to the Global Talent Stream by one of the Stream’s designated partners and is hiring an individual with unique and specialized talent.
- The employer is seeking to hire highly-skilled foreign workers to fill positions in in-demand occupations found on the Global Talent Occupations List.
How long is the LMIA valid for?
The LMIA is valid for a maximum period of 6 months after it is issued.
Your employer must give you a copy because you will need it to apply for your work permit.