Work permit for Canada: What is a Labour Market Opinion (LMO)?
The LMO is a document issued by the Canadian government to your employer. It will allow you, a Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW), to obtain a sponsored work permit for Canada. It is a fast, cheap process that was created to allow Canadian employers to fill positions in their companies with foreign workers if they are unable to find a Canadian to do the job. The government issues a positive or negative Labour Market Opinion (LMO) to your employer approximately 12 weeks after application. You, the potential employee, then use this LMO to obtain your new visa either at the nearest border, or by post. Visa fees are usually about $150. The LMO will state the conditions for work in Canada, including wages, hours and the duration of the LMO permit.
Advantages of Labour Market Opinion
- It is relatively fast, cheap and appealing to employers. Other routes that allow you to work in Canada require more time and money.
- You can get a work permit for Canada for up to three years.
Disadvantages of Labour Market Opinion
- It can be tricky to meet all requirements and convincing the government that there is no Canadian to do the job.
- LMOs are issued based on the current labour market needs, so if you happen to be in a profession that is currently experiencing high rates of unemployment it can be tough to get an Labour Market Opinion.
- Your employer is the person applying for the LMO so you cannot get any information on your application or deal with the Labour Market Opinion folks throughout the process.
- Your employer is going to have to advertise your position even though you are most likely already working there. The HRSDC (Human Resources and Skills Development Dept.) needs proper proof that attempts were made to find a Canadian employee. JobsBank and Indeed.com are two common websites to meet this objective.
Important new updates from HRDSC on LMO process as of July 2013
Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
These changes have dramatically reduced the number of LMO applications as the process is now slower and more complex. It is expected that these reforms will softened as employers struggle to cope with the new process.
The link for HRDSC below goes through the whole process of the LMO application for employment in Canada. If you have a prospective employer and they do not know the process, show them this link. It is a relatively simple process; they just need to follow the guidelines.
Note: It appears that LMOs being approved in Alberta for tradespeople state that those working in a compulsory trade need an approval letter from Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AAIT) before a work permit will be issued. Please check your LMO carefully for this requirement on Compulsory Trades in Alberta.
Note: If you, or your employer, do not follow the conditions on the Labour Market Opinion, it may adversely affect you when you go to apply for Permanent Residency in Canada. Ensure you comply fully.
Work in Canada through LMO
Once you have a positive LMO from HRDSC, you are then entitled to apply for a work permit to work in Canada. You can do this in two different ways:
1. Apply to the Canadian Consulate in London before coming to Canada. You will receive a confirmation letter which you provide to Citizenship & Immigration Canada on arrival. The cost is $150 per work permit and $125 per study permit (needed for all children of school age).
2. Apply at Point of Entry (POE). Go to Immigration Canada on arrival in Canada. Provide your documents and they will issue you with a work permit and study permit, if required.
3. If you are already in Canada you can also go to the border and flagpole, which involves going to the US border. When coming back, you proceed to Immigration Canada as a landed immigrant.
Special thanks to Anne Everett in Calgary and Lucy O’Connor in Toronto for their contributions to this article.