What is a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document provided by Employment and Social Development Canada that may be needed by Canadian employers before hiring a foreign worker.

LMIA PROCESS

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An LMIA gives:Canadian employers permission to hire a temporary foreign worker. It is a prerequisite for employers of certain types of temporary workers, so that their prospective employees
Obtaining a positive LMIA indicates:That there is a need for a foreign worker to fill a job vacancy that a Canadian worker or permanent resident is unable to fulfill. A positive LMIA is also referred to as a confirmation letter.
There is a legitimate need for a temporary foreign workerThere are no Canadians or permanent residents available to fill a job vacancy due to a shortage of skilled labour LMIA An LMIA confirms that:

An LMIA gives:

Canadian employers permission to hire a temporary foreign worker. It is a prerequisite for employers of certain types of temporary workers, so that their prospective employees

Obtaining a positive LMIA indicates:

That there is a need for a foreign worker to fill a job vacancy that a Canadian worker or permanent resident is unable to fulfill. A positive LMIA is also referred to as a confirmation letter.

An LMIA confirms that:

  • There is a legitimate need for a temporary foreign worker
  • There are no Canadians or permanent residents available to fill a job vacancy due to a shortage of skilled labour LMIA

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Obtaining a Positive LMIA: How can a Canadian Employer get an LMIA?

Obtaining a positive LMIA, also known as receiving a confirmation letter, is not necessarily as straightforward as filling out an application form. 

You’ll need to file an LMIA through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The application process will be different for each employer and it will vary depending on the stream through which you are hiring:

  • High-wage workers
  • Low-wage workers
  • Workers through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program 
  • Workers through the Agricultural stream
  • Permanent Residence (except Quebec)
  • Caregiver (Only from inside Canada except for Quebec)
  • Simplifié (Only for Quebec)

You can see details for each stream in the next section.

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LMIA Application Process for Employers

Before hiring a temporary foreign worker, it’s important to determine if you need an LMIA. Most employers need an LMIA before a temporary foreign worker can be hired, however, there are some exceptions.

Find out if you need an LMIA to hire foreign workers.

An employee may be exempt from an LMIA if:

Foreigners of certain nationalities who may be from a visa-exempt country may also be exempt from needing an LMIA.

If your prospective temporary foreign employee does not fall under one of the exemptions mentioned above, you may need to apply for an LMIA.

Recruitment Efforts

In order to provide fair work opportunities to Canadians and Canadian permanent residents, employers in most provinces are required to show proof of a recruitment process before being able to apply for an LMIA.  Employers must be prepared to advertise job opportunities in the national or provincial job bank for at least  30 days prior to considering hiring a foreign worker. The advertisement must not be taken down until a positive LMIA has been received by the employer. Exemptions can apply for certain positions or LMIA streams. Depending on the stream, some employers may also be asked to advertise the job vacancy on  websites targeting different groups in Canada. At least one of these advertisements must have a national reach, be on a specialized website or target under-represented groups; the requirement that must be met will also depend on the stream.   Canadian employers based in the province of Quebec are exempt from having to show proof of a recruitment process in order to fill job vacancies that are either determined essential by Service Canada or included in a list of occupations that are difficult to fill.
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Applying for an LMIA

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) provides employers with a positive LMIA after taking into consideration certain requirements that must be met by the employers. These requirements will vary depending on the type of program through which you’re hiring.

The programs, also known as streams, available are:

To hire a temporary  foreign worker in a high-wage position, employers must advertise the job vacancy in the government of Canada’s national Job Bank for at least  30 days and in one additional source that must be specialized and have a national reach. 

In addition, employers must fill out an LMIA application form for high-wage positions (EMP5626), pay the LMIA processing fees, show proof of business legitimacy, perform the activities of a transition plan or support the foreign worker(s) for permanent residence and demonstrate proof of recruitment

Employers wanting to hire temporary foreign  workers for low-wage positions must advertise the job vacancy in the government of Canada’s national Job Bank for at least  30 days and in two additional sources that  must have a national reach and target under-represented groups. 

As of April 30, 2022 and until further notice, employers hiring through the low-wage stream are subject to a 20% cap limit on the amount of temporary foreign workers they can hire.

Employers in the fields of construction, food manufacturing, wood product manufacturing, furniture and related product manufacturing, hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, accommodation and food services are subject to a 30% hiring cap. 

In order to qualify, employers must fill out an LMIA application form for low-wage positions (EMP5627), pay the LMIA processing fee, show proof of business legitimacy, demonstrate proof of recruitment efforts, provide an employment contract and demonstrate that they are under the CAP limit.

Nationals from Mexico, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago qualify under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program to go to Canada as temporary foreign workers. 

Under this stream, employers will need to submit an LMIA application form (EMP5389), pay the LMIA processing fee, show proof of business legitimacy, demonstrate proof of recruitment, copy of signed off-site lease agreement , if applicable, demonstrate that the employment duration will not last more than 8 months and provide a housing inspection report.

Employers who want to acquire a positive LMIA through this stream must meet certain requirements, such as:

Employers must cover the employee’s round-trip transportation costs; provide day-to-day transportation to and from the job site at no cost; provide housing (on-farm or off-site); confirmation that the on-farm or off-site housing provided for the temporary foreign worker has been inspected and a favourable report has been provided to the employer by the appropriate authorities. 

In addition, employers must pay for the temporary foreign worker’s private health insurance until they are eligible to be covered by the Provincial Health Insurance; ensure workplace safety and provide the appropriate training, protective equipment and supervision (if needed) in case of pesticides and chemical use; prepare and sign an employment contract; show proof of business legitimacy and submit an LMIA application form.

To hire a temporary  foreign worker in a high-wage position, employers must advertise the job vacancy in the government of Canada’s national Job Bank for at least  30 days and in one additional source that must be specialized and have a national reach. 

In addition, employers must fill out an LMIA application form for high-wage positions (EMP5626), pay the LMIA processing fees, show proof of business legitimacy, perform the activities of a transition plan or support the foreign worker(s) for permanent residence and demonstrate proof of recruitment

Employers wanting to hire temporary foreign  workers for low-wage positions must advertise the job vacancy in the government of Canada’s national Job Bank for at least  30 days and in two additional sources that  must have a national reach and target under-represented groups. 

As of April 30, 2022 and until further notice, employers hiring through the low-wage stream are subject to a 20% cap limit on the amount of temporary foreign workers they can hire.

Employers in the fields of construction, food manufacturing, wood product manufacturing, furniture and related product manufacturing, hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, accommodation and food services are subject to a 30% hiring cap. 

In order to qualify, employers must fill out an LMIA application form for low-wage positions (EMP5627), pay the LMIA processing fee, show proof of business legitimacy, demonstrate proof of recruitment efforts, provide an employment contract and demonstrate that they are under the CAP limit.

Nationals from Mexico, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago qualify under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program to go to Canada as temporary foreign workers. 

Under this stream, employers will need to submit an LMIA application form (EMP5389), pay the LMIA processing fee, show proof of business legitimacy, demonstrate proof of recruitment, copy of signed off-site lease agreement , if applicable, demonstrate that the employment duration will not last more than 8 months and provide a housing inspection report.

Employers who want to acquire a positive LMIA through this stream must meet certain requirements, such as:

Employers must cover the employee’s round-trip transportation costs; provide day-to-day transportation to and from the job site at no cost; provide housing (on-farm or off-site); confirmation that the on-farm or off-site housing provided for the temporary foreign worker has been inspected and a favourable report has been provided to the employer by the appropriate authorities. 

In addition, employers must pay for the temporary foreign worker’s private health insurance until they are eligible to be covered by the Provincial Health Insurance; ensure workplace safety and provide the appropriate training, protective equipment and supervision (if needed) in case of pesticides and chemical use; prepare and sign an employment contract; show proof of business legitimacy and submit an LMIA application form.

Low-Wage and High-wage Workers

A worker is designated as being a low-wage or high-wage worker depending on the temporary foreign worker’s salary. 

A wage offered at or above the hourly wages indicated on the table below is considered to be high-wage. Anything below is considered low-wage, and the amounts vary depending on the province or territory.

*All hourly rates are expressed in Canadian dollars.

LMIA Requirements for Canadian Employers

Although LMIA requirements for Canadian employers vary depending on the stream, the general requirements are consistent for most employers. In order to apply for an LMIA, employers must:

  • Have a legitimate business
  • Provide goods or services to the public
  • Be able to pay a salary to a foreign worker
  • Have an open vacancy that a Canadian citizen or permanent resident cannot fill
  • Pay LMIA processing fees
  • Provide private healthcare for employees until they are eligible to be covered by the Provincial Health Insurance
  • Cover round-trip transportation expenses for the worker
  • Run a recruitment campaign for at least 30 days
Financial stability Labour shortage Acceptable working contidions Recruitment efforts

LMIA Exemptions and Work Permit

Hiring a temporary foreign worker does not necessarily mean you will have to file for an LMIA as not all work permits require an LMIA. 

There are many work programs through which qualifying prospective employees can acquire work in Canada. These programs allow workers to skip the LMIA requirement and obtain work from a Canadian employer as long as there is a valid work contract in place. 

LMIA and work permit exemptions can occur due to various factors, such as the worker’s nationality, the occupation (NOC), and the work program through which they qualify to obtain work. 

Some nationalities are also exempt from an LMIA due to Canadian interests and trade agreements, such as it happens with Mexican nationals due to NAFTA. 

Those obtaining work through a Working Holiday Visa are also exempt from needing an LMIA.

Some of the LMIA-exempt streams include:

  • Canada-Chile FTA
  • Canada-Peru FTA
  • Canada-Colombia FTA
  • Canada-Korea FTA
  • Canada-European Union
  • Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
  • General Agreement on Trade in Services (G+ATS)
  • International Mobility Program
  • Intra-Company Transferees
  • North American Free
  • Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

LMIA Application Processing Time

The duration of an LMIA process can be unpredictable. It can take anywhere from six weeks to several months, taking into account the 30-day job advertising period that is required before filing an application. 

According to Service Canada, the processing time after filing an LMIA application will vary depending on the type of application. See the table below to see average processing times in connection to the type of application. 

Keep in mind that the table above provides average processing times, however, the actual processing time will vary depending on the number of LMIA applications that Service Canada is having to process at the time of your application, along with other delays and the difficulty of each case. 

AgriculturalStreamGlobal TalentStreamHigh-WageStreamIn-Home CaregiversLow-Wage StreamPermanent ResidenceStreamSeasonal Agricultural Worker Program Application Type Average Processing Time 28 business days12 business days48 business days25 business days48 business days35 business days19 business days
Agricultural StreamGlobal Talent StreamHigh-Wage StreamIn-Home CaregiversLow-Wage StreamPermanent Residence StreamSeasonal Agricultural Worker Program Application Type Average Processing Time 28 business days12 business days48 business days25 business days48 business days35 business days19 business days

LMIA Application Fees

An LMIA processing fee of $1,000 CAD per worker is applied to each application. All fees must be covered by the employer, not the temporary foreign worker. 

An exception to the fee is made to applications filed strictly in support of permanent residency in the case of agricultural workers.

LMIA Refusal

With most immigration processes, if an employer has met all requirements and has filed a complete LMIA form, the application should result in a positive outcome. However, the decision is at the discretion of Service Canada officers who will examine the application. 

For that reason, LMIAs could be refused solely due to a technicality.

LMIA Application Form Resources

As each type of LMIA application is different, you’ll need a different form for every process. 

Use the resources below to find the right LMIA form you’ll need to get your process started. 

FAQ

Canadian employers who want to check if they must apply for an LMIA can review the LMIA exemption codes and work permit exemptions. Select the work permit code that seems to be the most relevant to each occupation. 

If an exemption code applies to you, you do not need to apply for an LMIA. Be sure to include the exemption code on your offer of employment to your prospective employee.

You will need to file one LMIA form  by employer or in some cases one form for each employee you would like to hire.

LMIA approval times vary depending on the type of process. However, you can expect for the entire process to take a minimum of six weeks, as you will be required to actively advertise a job vacancy for up to 30 days before you can file for an LMIA.

Once you have filed an LMIA, the process will last anywhere between 12 to 48 business days depending on the type of LMIA and system delays by Service Canada. For more detailed information, consult our LMIA Application Processing Time section above. The delay for applications in Quebec can be longer.

Yes. If an employer doesn’t meet the criteria established by Employment and Social Development Canada, an LMIA can be refused.

If your LMIA has been refusedr, you may file again unless your application has been revoked within the past two years as a result of providing false, misleading or inaccurate information.

Yes, an LMIA is required for foreign nationals that want to change their status in Canada or for workers that want to change employers. If the NOC code  is LMIA exempt, they don’t need an LMIA.

On April 4, 2022, Service Canada extended the validity of an LMIA to 18 months. The temporary foreign worker(s) must apply for their respective work permit within those 18 months.

No, an LMIA is a preliminary requirement for employers so that they can be allowed to hire temporary foreign workers. Without a positive LMIA, a work permit cannot be obtained by a foreign worker.

There are no mandatory language requirements such as IELTS to file an LMIA, however it’s important for employers to take into consideration language assets during the hiring process if it’s relevant to job responsibilities.
Although language abilities may not be relevant to issue a positive LMIA, a Service Canada officer could reject a work permit if they deem that there are reasonable grounds for the foreign national to not be able to perform their work effectively due to a language barrier.

Yes, a foreign worker is allowed to work in their country of residence while they wait for a final decision on their LMIA application. Also, a temporary foreign worker within Canada is only allowed to work while waiting for an LMIA if they applied for a new work permit before the expiration date of their last document because they fall under the maintained status. Visitors or any status other than worker are not entitled to a worker maintained status. It's important to keep in mind that an LMIA is not a work permit nor does it provide implied status.

The employer is responsible for paying any fees related to the LMIA process.

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