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Foreign workers who offer significant economic, social, or cultural benefit to Canada may be able to work in Canada on a work permit without the employer needing to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment, or LMIA. This is known simply as the ‘significant benefit’ group of LMIA exemptions.

The process of obtaining a LMIA requires the Canadian employer to undertake a rigourous, and typically bureaucratic and lengthy, recruitment process. However, the hiring of foreign workers who qualify under the significant benefit exemption does not require the employer to perform the LMIA application process. Consequently, significant benefit may result in a simpler and more efficient recruitment process for employers and workers alike.

Who and what qualifies as significant benefit?

LMIA-exempt work permit categories, including significant benefit, come under the umbrella of the International Mobility Program. Most LMIA exemptions are specific and clearly defined, such as the policy for spouses and common-law partner of some foreign workers and students, intra-company transfers, or regarding international agreements such as the International Experience Canada (IEC) initiative, NAFTA, and CETA, to name a few.

In contrast, the significant benefit LMIA exemption gives Canadian visa officers the flexibility to determine whether, in situations where another LMIA-exempt work permit category may not be an option, the balance of practical considerations argues for the issuance of a work permit in a time frame shorter than would be necessary to obtain a LMIA.

This discretion is given to officers with the intention of addressing situations where the social, cultural, or economic benefits to Canada of issuing the work permit are so clear and compelling that the importance of the LMIA can be overcome. The work that the applicant intends to perform would need to create or maintain significant social, cultural or economic benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Visa officers assessing a work permit application made under the significant benefit criteria look at the social and cultural benefit of authorizing entry to Canada for persons of international renown, examining whether a person’s presence in Canada is crucial to a high-profile event, and/or whether circumstances have created urgency to the person’s entry.

Officers often rely on the testimony of credible, trustworthy, and distinguished experts in the applicant’s field, as well as any objective evidence.

The government of Canada provides the following indicators for significant benefit.

  • An official academic record showing that the foreign national has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to the area of their ability.
  • Evidence from current or former employers showing that the foreign national has significant full-time experience in the occupation for which he or she is sought.
  • The applicant may have been the recipient of national or international awards or patent.
  • Evidence of membership in organizations requiring excellence of its members.
  • The applicant may have been the judge of the work of others.
  • Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the field by peers, governmental organizations, or professional or business associations.
  • Evidence of scientific or scholarly contributions to the field by the foreign national.
  • Publications authored by the applicant in academic or industry publications.
  • A leading role of the applicant in an organization with a distinguished reputation.

The Mobilité Francophone initiative is also considered under the significant benefit category. Through Mobilité Francophone, foreign workers with French ability and a skilled job offer outside the province of Quebec may be eligible for a LMIA exemption.

About the author

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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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