Understanding the LMIA Process

The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a critical component for employers in Canada aiming to hire foreign workers. Essentially, an LMIA is a document issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that assesses the impact of hiring a foreign worker on the Canadian labor market. This assessment ensures that there is a genuine need for a foreign worker and that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available to fill the job position.

Employers seeking to hire foreign workers must understand the significance of obtaining a positive LMIA. A positive LMIA indicates that hiring a foreign worker will have a neutral or positive effect on the Canadian labor market. This document is then used by the prospective employee when applying for a work permit through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

ESDC and IRCC play pivotal roles in the LMIA process. ESDC is responsible for evaluating the LMIA application submitted by the employer. This involves reviewing the employer’s efforts to recruit Canadians, the wages offered, and the working conditions provided. Upon approval, ESDC issues a positive LMIA, which the foreign worker uses to secure their work permit from IRCC. IRCC’s role is to ensure that the foreign worker meets all the necessary criteria to work in Canada, including security and health checks.

There are different types of LMIA applications, tailored to various hiring needs. High-wage and low-wage streams categorize positions based on the median hourly wage in the specific province or territory. High-wage positions typically require a transition plan to ensure that the employer is taking steps to reduce reliance on foreign workers over time. Low-wage positions have additional requirements such as caps on the number of low-wage workers an employer can hire.

Specialized streams like the Global Talent Stream offer expedited processing for employers seeking to hire highly skilled workers in certain industries. This stream is part of the Global Skills Strategy, aimed at facilitating the entry of top talent into Canada to foster innovation and economic growth.

Understanding the LMIA process is essential for employers to navigate the complexities of hiring foreign workers in compliance with Canadian regulations. By ensuring adherence to these guidelines, employers can effectively address labor shortages while contributing to the country’s economic development.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers to address labor and skill shortages through a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). An LMIA is required before issuing an Employer-specific work permit to a foreign worker.

It is important to distinguish the LMIA process from the International Mobility Program (IMP), which permits the hiring of foreign workers without an LMIA. However, these workers still require a work permit unless exempted by regulation.

Failing to meet LMIA requirements can lead to negative outcomes after long waiting periods, causing frustration for both employers and foreign workers. While initiatives like the Global Skills Strategy aim to speed up the importation of talent to about two weeks, many employers still need to use the slower LMIA process.


Options for Employers Offering Employment to Foreign Nationals

Working in Canada Without a Permit

Under certain circumstances, Canadian immigration regulations allow foreign nationals to work in Canada without a work permit. Section 186 of the Immigration Regulations lists these instances, such as business visitors entering briefly for consultations and meetings.

Working in Canada While Exempt From Labour Certifications

Some foreign nationals requiring a work permit can obtain one without an LMIA under the International Mobility Program. For example, American or Mexican nationals eligible under the Canada-United States-Mexico Free Trade Agreement (CUSMA) as Investors, Professionals, or Intra-company transferees do not need an LMIA. Other Free Trade Agreements with labor mobility clauses also allow entry without an LMIA.

Applying for Labour Market Impact Assessment

If no exemptions apply, employers must begin with a mandatory 30-day period of advertising the position on a major job website. As of August 28, 2017, advertising on the Federal Government Job Bank is mandatory, though Work BC can still be used as one of the advertisements. Additionally, two other advertising methods consistent with normal business practice must be used, one of which must be national in scope.

Meeting the LMIA Advertising Requirements

Job Match System: Employers must use the Job Match service when advertising. This service ranks candidates based on compatibility with the job requirements. For high-wage positions, employers must invite all job seekers rated four stars or more within the first 30 days to apply.

Job Advertisement Format: Advertisements must include:
  • Company’s name
  • Business address
  • Title of the position
  • Job duties
  • Term of employment
  • Wage (wage range rules apply)
  • Benefits offered
  • Work location
  • Contact information
  • Skills requirements (education and work experience)
  • Working conditions

Setting Wages

Wages must be at least the posted prevailing wage for the occupation and work location or within the wage range paid to current employees in the same position and location if higher than the prevailing wage.

Fees and Registration

The processing fee for an LMIA is $1,000 per position.

BC-based employers must register with the BC Temporary Foreign Worker Program before an LMIA can be issued.

Recent Developments in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

On April 1, 2024, Minister of Employment Randy Boissonnault announced that certain time-limited initiatives under the TFW Program Workforce Solutions Road Map introduced in 2022 will not be extended and will end this spring sooner than anticipated.

Effective May 1, 2024:

  • New Labour Market Impact Assessments will be valid for six months instead of the previous twelve, aimed at guaranteeing precise labor market needs.
  • This is the validity period for LMIA, not the work permit itself, which is a timeframe for employers to hire a foreign worker and apply for a work permit.
  • Except for the construction and health care industries, all industries listed in the 2022 Workforce Solutions Road Map will have to reduce the percentage of their entire workforce that may enter under the low wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from 30% to 20%.
  • Before requesting an LMIA, employers will need to explore all options, including hiring asylum seekers with valid work permits.
  • Employers are now required to annually assess the pay of temporary foreign workers to ensure it reflects changes in going rates for their specific field and area of work, effective January 1, 2024.



Employers must adhere to these guidelines to navigate the LMIA process successfully and avoid delays and negative outcomes. For expert assistance throughout the LMIA application process, consider consulting with BeGlobal, an LMIA Immigration Consultant | LMIA Agency that provides from Initial Assessment and Strategy Development to Post-Approval Support and Assistance.

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