If you have a job offer in Canada and want to get a work permit, the LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) route may be the way to proceed. However, foreign workers and Canadian employers alike should know that the LMIA process is far from straightforward.
This page outlines details about Canada’s LMIA system for work permits, including who might be eligible and how to apply for an LMIA.
Labour Market Impact Assessment
Canada’s LMIA process serves as proof that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is ready, willing, and able to fill a specific position in Canada, and so the employer is allowed to hire a foreign worker. In order to obtain an LMIA, employers must advertise the position for at least four weeks and potentially interview candidates who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
Only then, and only if the business can prove that those interviewees did not fulfil the job description, may the business be given the green light to hire a foreign worker. The worker must then apply for a Canadian work permit, supported by the LMIA, before beginning work in Canada.
LMIA applications are detailed and require lots of documentation and statistical tabulation. Examples include a numerical breakdown of the number of Canadian applicants for the position, the number of offers of employment made, and the number of unqualified applicants. Employers must provide a written description of why each un-hired Canadian was not qualified for the job. Not all work permit types require a LMIA to be issued; work permit streams that are LMIA-exempt come under the International Mobility Program.
Note: This page refers to the LMIA process under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). To learn how the LMIA process works in conjunction with the Express Entry immigration selection system, please see our Express Entry page.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program
The department of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) oversees Canada’s LMIA process. In their analysis, ESDC will consider the following elements of the job offer:
Is the salary offered to the foreign worker consistent with the average for the occupation in the area the position is located?
Are the working conditions consistent with labour laws and/or collective bargaining agreements?
Is there a labour shortage for that occupation in the area the position is located?
Is there an ongoing labour dispute in the company and/or industry?
Has the Canadian employer undertaken recruitment efforts in order to find a Canadian to fill the position?
Will the foreign worker be able to transfer unique skills or expertise to Canadians?
Will hiring the foreign worker help to create or retain jobs for Canadians?
Will the foreign worker be the employee of the Canadian employer, whereby the foreign worker is expected to work on a full-time basis at a pre-determined wage?
The TFWP is divided into streams for Higher-skilled workers and Lower-skilled workers. Positions located in skill levels 0, A and B of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system are placed in the Higher-skilled category. Positions located in skills levels C and D are placed in the Lower-skilled category.
Both streams contain two further sub-streams:
1) The Stream for Higher-Skilled Occupations — High-Wage Workers
2) The Stream for Higher-Skilled Occupations — Low-Wage Workers
3) The Stream for Lower-Skilled Occupations — High-Wage Workers
4) The Stream for Lower-Skilled Occupations — Low-Wage Workers
Positions where the prevailing wage rate, as set by ESDC, is below the provincial/territorial median wage will be considered low-wage. Those positions where the prevailing wage is at or above the provincial/territorial median wage will be considered high-wage.
|Province / Territory||Wage ($/hour)|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||$22.00|
|Prince Edward Island||$19.49|
Therefore, when assessing which stream to follow:
1) Identify the job title’s skill level within the NOC Matrix.
2) Assess whether it is considered Higher-Skilled or Lower-Skilled.
3) Go to www.jobbank.gc.ca and in the menu click on “By wages”.
4) Type the name or NOC code of the job title.
5) Locate the geographic location where the job is located.
6) Identify the “Median Wage” for that specific geographic location. This will be the “prevailing wage rate” for this specific area in this occupation.
7) Assess this prevailing wage rate against the provincial/territorial median wage listed in the chart above.
8) If the prevailing wage rate is below the provincial/territorial median wage, it is considered low-wage. If the prevailing wage rate is at or above the provincial/territorial median wage rate, it is considered high-wage.