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1. What is LMIA in Canada?

LMIA stands for “Labour Market Impact Assessment.” Formerly known as “Labour Market Opinion” (or LMO), LMIA is a document that a Canadian employer may need to obtain before hiring a foreign worker.

Anyone who has ever given any thought at any time in their life to an idea of immigrating to Canada has heard about LMIA program. No surprise you might have been wondering what that is. Today, we will tell you all you need to know about LMIA, why you need it and how you can get one.

LMIA Canada

An employer, wishing to hire a foreign worker, submits an application to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). ESDC then reviews the application and issues an assessment or a report that is called LMIA. This report outlines the impact that hiring a foreign worker will have on Canada’s labour market.

Any employer, who wishes to hire a foreign employee, must obtain an LMIA from ESDC. If the assessment by ESDC is positive, the Labour Market Impact Assessment will outline the conditions of the job being offered, the name of the employee in question, and an expiry date.

Once the Canadian employer receives LMIA, it is then forwarded to an overseas employee. Only once Labour Market Impact Assessment is obtained, can overseas employee initiate a visa and work permit application. If the person is already employed in Canada, it allows them to file a work permit in Canada renewal application.

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2. What are the different types of LMIA?

Support Work Permit applications

a Labour Market Impact Assessment to support an application for work permit under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Once you receive this Labour Market Impact Assessment, you may apply for the work permit;

LMIA For PR, Support Permanent Residence Applications

this LMIA is used to support an Application for Permanent Residence in Canada. If permanent residence is sought based on Express Entry, the foreign worker is awarded 50-600 CRS points (based on NOC code).

Candidates can apply to Express Entry Draw. This can boost the cut-off score high enough for the applicant to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence in Canada;

Support both Permanent Residence & Work Permit applications

In addition to supporting permanent residence application, this type of LMIA is also used to support a work permit application.

LMIA Requirements For Employers

In their analysis of the offer of employment, ESDC considers the following elements:

  • Has the Canadian employer undertaken reasonable efforts to recruit or train a Canadian to fill the position?
  • Will hiring the foreign worker help to create or retain jobs for Canadians?
  • Will the foreign worker be able to transfer unique skills or expertise to Canadians?
  • Is there a labour shortage for that occupation in the area the position is located?
  • 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 in line with the labour laws and/or collective bargaining agreements?
  • Are the job offer and the company genuine?
  • Is there an ongoing dispute between the company and/or the industry?
  • Is the number of foreign workers in the company within the cap set by the government?

The only languages distinguished as job requirements for LMIA purposes are English and French unless the employer can prove differently.

Employers are further required to advertise all job vacancies in the Canadian labour market for at least four weeks. In addition to posting an ad in the Canadian Job Bank website, employers must prove that they have tried at least two other nation-wide recruitment efforts to find a Canadian employee.

Employers are explicitly prohibited from laying off or cutting the hours of Canadian workers to employ foreign workers. Generally speaking, it is easier to obtain a positive LMIA for high-demand occupations (as published from time to time by provincial governments). Canada is interested in bringing qualified and highly skilled employees in high demand occupations to benefit the Canadian economy with their knowledge, skills, and expertise.

3. Application process

1. Signing of the retainer

2. Opening a job bank account

1 week for approval

3. Advertisement set up

2 - 3 days

4. Advertising process

4 weeks

5. Preparation of the essential documents

4 weeks

6. Interview process

3 - 5 days

7. Preparation of the forms

1 day

8. Submission of the application

1 day

9. Application will be entered to the system

15 days

10. Application review by ESDC

1 - 2 months

11. Interview with the company’s officer

10 min

12. Decision

4. LMIA processing time

While processing time for LMIA applications may vary, ESDC has committed to 10 business days for certain Labour Market Impact Assessment applications. The 10 days processing time is available for applications pertaining to high-demand jobs (for example, skilled trades), jobs offering wages in the top 10% of wages earned by Canadians in that province or territory, and for jobs with a short duration work period (less than 120 days).

5. What are the criteria of Temporary Foreign Worker Program?

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 / TerritoryWage ($/hour)
Alberta$27.28
British Columbia$25.00
Manitoba$21.60
New Brunswick$20.12
Newfoundland and Labrador$23.00
Northwest Territories$34.36
Nova Scotia$20.00
Nunavut$32.00
Ontario$24.04
Prince Edward Island$20.00
Quebec$23.08
Saskatchewan$24.55
Yukon$30.00

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.

6. LMIA requirements

Occupations for priority processing during COVID-19

6.1. The Stream of Higher-Skilled Occupations — High-Wage Workers

Advertising:
  1. National/Provincial Job Bank for at least 28 days (must remain posted until LMIA is issued)
  2. Two other sources of advertising, one of which must be national in scope.
Transition Plan Employers must complete a detailed transition plan (to be explained in the next section).

6.2. The Stream for Higher-Skilled Occupations — Low-Wage Workers

Advertising:
  1. National/Provincial Job Bank for at least 28 days (must remain posted until LMIA is issued).
  2. Two other sources of advertising, one of which must be national in scope.

Cap on Low-Wage Temporary Foreign Workers

Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA under this stream are subject to a cap. This is 10 per cent of temporary foreign workers who may be employed at that worksite (to be explained below). There are some exceptions to the cap on low-wage temporary foreign workers.

6.3. The Stream of Lower-Skilled Occupations – High-Wage Workers

Advertising:
  1. National/Provincial Job Bank for at least 28 days (must remain posted until LMIA is issued).
  2. Two other sources of advertising, one of which must target under-represented groups.
Transition Plan Employers must complete a detailed transition plan (to be explained in the next section).

6.4. The Stream of Lower-Skilled Occupations – Low-Wage Workers

Advertising:
  1. National/Provincial Job Bank for at least 28 days (must remain posted until LMIA is issued).
  2. Two other sources of advertising, one of which must target under-represented groups.

Cap on Low-Wage Temporary Foreign Workers

Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA under this stream are subject to a cap of 10 per cent of temporary foreign workers who may be employed at that worksite (to be explained below).

Quebec facilitated LMIA process

Employers in the province of Quebec may fill selected positions without having to include proof of recruitment efforts. The list of eligible occupations for this facilitated LMIA process is available here (page is in French only).

7. Work permit duration

For all low-wage positions, the duration of work permits set out in LMIAs is limited to a maximum of one year.

10-day Processing for Highest-Demand, Highest-Paid and Shortest-Duration Occupations

LMIAs for highest-demand occupations (skilled trades), highest-paid (top 10 percent) occupations or short-duration work periods (120 days or less) are provided within a 10-business-day service standard.

Highest-demand occupations list:

The 10-day service standard is limited to the skilled trades where the prevailing wage rate is at or above the provincial/territorial median wage.

List of Skilled Trades Eligible for 10-day Speed of Service

Occupation NOC code
Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations 7202
Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades 7204
Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers 7205
Carpenters 7271
Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades 7301
Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews 7302
Supervisors, logging and forestry 8211
Supervisors, mining and quarrying 8221
Contractors and supervisors, oil and gas drilling services 8222
Logging machinery operators 8241
Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers 8252
Supervisors, mineral and metal processing 9211
Supervisors, petroleum, gas and chemical processing and utilities 9212
Supervisors, plastic and rubber products manufacturing 9214
Central control and process operators, mineral and metal processing 9231
Power engineers and power systems operators 9241
Water and waste treatment plant operators 9243
Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors 7231
Sheet metal workers 7233
Structural metal and plate work fabricators and fitters 7235
Ironworkers 7236
Welders and related machine operators 7237
Electricians (except industrial and power system) 7241
Industrial electricians 7242
Power system electricians 7243
Electrical power line and cable workers 7244
Telecommunications line and cable workers 7245
Telecommunications installation and repair workers 7246
Plumbers 7251
Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers 7252
Gas fitters 7253
Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics 7311
Heavy-duty equipment mechanics 7312
Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics 7313
Railway carmen/women 7314
Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors 7315
Elevator constructors and mechanics 7318
Crane operators 7371
Drillers and blasters – surface, mining, quarrying and construction 7372
Water well drillers 7373
Underground production and development miners 8231
Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers 8232
Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators 9232

Highest-paid occupations:

If the prevailing wage rate for an occupation is above the figure indicated below for the province in which the LMIA is being applied for, the application will be assessed in 10 business days or less:

Province / Territory Wage ($/hour)
Alberta $52.20
British Columbia $45.00
Manitoba $43.27
New Brunswick $39.90
Newfoundland and Labrador $45.00
Northwest Territories $59.52
Nova Scotia $40.87
Nunavut $58.00
Ontario $48.08
Prince Edward Island $38.46
Quebec $44.23
Saskatchewan $46.15
Yukon $48.08

Shortest-duration occupations

The 10-day service standard will be available for employers seeking to hire temporary foreign workers for a duration of 120 calendar days and where the prevailing wage rate for the occupation is at or above the provincial or territorial median wage.

FAQ

Employers may be reluctant to undergo the LMIA process for applicants whose situations are marginal. These situations may include:

  • Working Holidaywork permit holders seeking to remain on staff with their current employer at the end of their work permit.
  • Post-graduation work permitholders seeking to remain on staff with their current employer at the end of their work permit.
  • Open work permit holders seeking to remain on staff with their current employer at the end of their work permit.

Many job seekers – particularly those already working in Canada hoping to transition from one work permit to another with an LMIA – have been frustrated by their employer’s lack of knowledge of Canada’s LMIA process or their employer’s reluctance to engage with the LMIA process to the letter. For example, employers may be reluctant to post a job ad that includes details of the compensation, or may identify the wrong NOC code, or may identify the correct NOC code but fail to list appropriate duties in the job ad. Any of these errors could lead to a failure to obtain the LMIA or needing to start all over again, to the frustration and cost of the employer and the worker.

As the worker, it may be in your best interests to take an active interest in how the LMIA process is being undertaken at your current or potential place of employment. In particular, small to medium sized businesses that may be undertaking the LMIA process on your behalf for the first time ever, or the first time in many years, may inadvertently make costly errors due to not being acquainted with the intricacies of the LMIA process. In such a situation, it may be in everyone’s best interests for a regulated Canadian immigration consultant to oversee the LMIA preparation and application and liaise with the government on the employer’s behalf. We have a short list of recommended consultants here, each of whom has extensive expertise in securing LMIAs for appropriate cases and work permits for foreign workers.

It’s quite possible that you can bypass the LMIA process by getting a work permit under one the International Mobility Program streams. For workers and employers alike, it is preferable to get a work permit under the International Mobility Program, as these work permit do not require the worker to obtain a LMIA.

LMIA renewal is not possible. Labour Market Impact Assessment is a one-time process. Once done, you can’t renew it. You only can do a new LMIA.

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