Labour Market Impact Assessment

March 26, 2024


  • Sinethemba Phongolo

Getting hired as a temporary foreign worker in Canada requires a thorough understanding of the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process. This important evaluation, overseen by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), is a cornerstone for assessing the effects of hiring non-Canadian talent on the domestic job market. From ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements to addressing labor market needs, the LMIA process has significant implications for employers and prospective foreign workers.

The insights below will guide you through everything you need to know about Labor Market Impact Assessments, ensuring compliance and understanding exemptions for hiring foreign workers in Canada.

What is the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?

An LMIA is a formal assessment conducted by ESDC to analyze the potential impact of hiring a temporary foreign worker on the Canadian labor market. A positive LMIA signifies that the ESDC is satisfied that the employer has made a good-faith effort to recruit a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for the position and that there are no qualified Canadians available.

How Does the LMIA Process Work?

Here's a breakdown of the LMIA process.

Step 1: Check Your Eligibility and Apply for a Job Offer

After checking the eligibility criteria, you can apply for a Canadian employer's advertised job vacancy.

Step 2: Employer Initiates Process

The Canadian employer submits an LMIA application to ESDC, outlining the job offer details, including wages, duties, required skills, and experience.

Step 3: ESDC Review

ESDC assesses the application to ensure it meets advertising and recruitment requirements. This may involve advertising the job on various platforms, considering Canadians with adaptable skills, and offering competitive wages and working conditions.

Step 4: Public Consultation

ESDC may publish details of the LMIA to allow Canadian workers to express interest in the position.

Step 5: LMIA Issuance

If ESDC is satisfied the employer has met all requirements, a positive LMIA will be issued. This typically takes 10-12 weeks to process, though timelines can vary depending on complexity.

What Are the Different Temporary Foreign Worker Streams That Require an LMIA?

The requirement for an LMIA applies to most temporary foreign worker streams. Here is a closer look at some common categories.

High and Low-wage Positions

There is generally no distinction between high-wage and low-wage positions regarding LMIA requirements. However, employers applying for low-wage positions may face stricter scrutiny during the LMIA process to ensure they are not relying on temporary foreign workers to undercut wages for Canadians.

Primary Agriculture Positions

There are specific LMIA streams for temporary workers in primary agriculture (farming, horticulture, etc.), such as the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and Agricultural Stream.

Primary agricultural positions in Canada are defined as those within the boundaries of a farm, nursery, or greenhouse. These positions involve activities using agricultural machinery, boarding, care, breeding, sanitation, or other handling of animals. This also includes planting, care, harvesting, or preparation of crops, trees, sod, or other plants for the market. This job must align with one of these National Occupational Classifications (NOC) codes.

  • NOC 80020
  • NOC 80021
  • NOC 82030
  • NOC 82031
  • NOC 84120
  • NOC 85100
  • NOC 85101
  • NOC 85103

Global Talent Stream

This fast-track LMIA processing channel targets highly skilled workers in in-demand occupations. The Global Talent Stream (GTS) enables highly skilled global talent who want to obtain Canadian permanent residency (PR) to be hired by Canadian employers who want to expand their workforce in Canada and be competitive globally.

GTS is created for Canadian companies referred to Service Canada by a designated referral partner and needs specialized temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to grow. It is also intended for businesses in Canada that need to fill an in-demand, highly-skilled position listed on the Global Talent Occupations List.

Recognized Employer Pilot (REP)

The Recognized Employer Pilot (REP) allows established employers with a history of positive TFWP use to hire temporary workers in specific sectors without advertising the position to the broader Canadian audience. However, they must demonstrate ongoing efforts to recruit and train Canadians.

Caregiver Positions

For employers seeking to hire live-in caregivers, an LMIA is mandatory. Families can hire a foreign caregiver to provide care in their private residence to children, seniors, or persons with certified medical needs when Canadian citizens and permanent residents are unavailable. Families can hire foreign caregivers under the TFWP. However, the caregivers must:

  • Provide care on a full-time basis (minimum 30 hours per week),
  • Work in the private household where the care is being provided, and
  • Meet the requirements set by ESDC and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Foreign Academic Positions

Employers can request an employment duration of up to 3 years for high-wage positions, including foreign academics when submitting an LMIA application. The duration must be in line with the employer's reasonable employment needs and exceptional circumstances. Longer durations may be considered if supported by adequate reasons.

What Are the Temporary Foreign Worker Streams That Don’t Require an LMIA?

There are a few exceptions where employers can hire temporary foreign workers without an LMIA. These exemptions facilitate cultural exchange, short-term work placements, or fulfill specific international agreements. Below are some examples.

International Mobility Program

Canada's International Mobility Program (IMP) allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers without needing a Labor Market Impact Assessment. This program offers LMIA exemptions based on various conditions, such as significant benefits to Canadians, reciprocal employment relationships, and international agreements.

International Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

Canada's Free Trade Agreements with some countries allow business visitors and intra-company transfers under specific conditions without an LMIA. This includes the:

Canadian Social and Cultural Interests

The Canadian Social and Cultural Interests work permit stream falls under the Canadian interests category of the International Mobility Program, providing opportunities for foreign nationals to work in Canada without requiring an LMIA. This stream aims to attract individuals who can contribute significantly to Canada's social, cultural, or economic landscape.

Intra-Company Transfers

The Intra-company transfer stream allows foreign companies with offices in Canada and abroad to transfer foreign workers with specialized knowledge or expertise to their Canadian branch without an LMIA under specific circumstances. Strict criteria apply, and the worker must possess unique knowledge essential to the company's operations.

Now that you have a clearer understanding of an LMIA and the temporary work permit streams that do or don’t require it, you can begin your journey to work in Canada by consulting a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) for guidance on navigating your path.


What Happens if an Employer Does Not Receive a New LMIA Before my Work Permit Expires?

If an employer does not receive a new LMIA before a work permit expires, you may be required to stop working until a new LMIA is obtained, unless you qualify for another work permit category or have applied for an extension or change in status.

Can an LMIA be Transferred Between Employers?

No, an LMIA cannot be transferred between employers. It is specific to the employer and job position indicated in the application. If a foreign worker changes employers, the new employer must obtain a new LMIA for the specific job position.

What Does a Positive LMIA Mean?

A positive LMIA indicates a genuine need for a foreign worker and the unavailability of qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents for the job position.

Can I Get Canadian Permanent Residency With LMIA?

After working for 12 months in Canada, individuals with an LMIA can earn 50 or 200 points that enhance their CRS score, making them eligible to apply for permanent residency using the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), or Canadian Experience Class (CEC).