WHAT IS AN LMIA?
If you are a temporary foreign worker moving to Canada, it’s likely your employer will need to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment, otherwise known as an LMIA. An LMIA (formerly called a Labour Market Opinion or LMO) is an assessment from Economic and Social Development Canada (ESDC) which shows whether Canadians are available to take up a job, or if there is a need for a foreign worker. The majority of foreign workers will need an LMIA to take up employment in Canada.
It is up to your potential employer to apply for an LMIA, and if approved, they can then pass it on to you. If the position is specialised and highly skilled, it is more likely your LMIA will be approved.
When an employer applies, they must provide information on how many Canadians were considered for the job, plus detailed reasons why no Canadian was hired, before ESDC will grant an LMIA.
How long does it take to obtain an LMIA?
The ESDC aims to process LMIA applications within 10 days, depending on the application. For example skilled trades in high demand and jobs for a short duration (less than 120 days) will most likely be processed within 10 days. Other types of applications will take longer.
There are LMIA processing centres in every province in Canada.
What happens after you obtain an LMIA?
Once you have received an LMIA from the ESDC, you must then apply for a work permit from the Canadian Government, Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC). Once CIC is satisfied that the worker fulfils all the immigration and work requirements, they will be granted a work permit for Canada.
Keep in mind that in June 2014, it was announced that work permits for foreign workers who require an LMIA will only be granted for a period of 1 year for all low-wage occupations.
Some foreign workers are exempt from needing an LMIA. Workers who may be granted an exemption include:
- Workers from countries with international agreements that facilitate the entry of foreign workers, e.g. the North American Free Trade Agreement
- Entrepreneurs/Self Employed Workers who come to Canada to start or run a business
- Intra-Company Transferees
- International Exchange Programmes (such as the Working Holiday Visa)
- Dependents of Foreign Workers
- Religious Workers
It’s important to note that being exempt from an LMIA does not mean the worker is exempt from needing a work permit.
For more information on the Temporary Foreign Worker Visa and obtaining an LMIA, take a look at the Employment and Social Development Canada website.