LMIA: How to Get an LMIA Under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Last updated: 20 September 2021

How to work in Canada and get a labour market impact assessment (LMIA)

Under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, an employer must first receive approval from the Canadian government before hiring a foreign national. This comes in the form of the Labour Market Impact Assessment. 

The purpose of the LMIA is to ensure the arrival of the foreign worker will not hurt workers in Canada. This comprehensive CanadaVisa page provides an overview of the LMIA process.

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Overview

Canada operates the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) as a means to supplement its work force when there is no qualified worker in Canada to do a job. An employer looking to hire a foreign worker in Canada often needs to submit a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to the Canadian government. The Canadian government employee reviewing the application must determine that the hiring of the foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour market. Among other factors, it must be clear that no qualified Canadians were passed up in favour of the foreign worker, and that the foreign worker will be given a salary and benefits that meet federal and provincial standards.

The LMIA process is different depending on whether the targeted employee is classified as “high-wage” or “low-wage”. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage are considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above the median wage are considered high-wage. 

Generally speaking, all employers must provide evidence that they have attempted to find qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill job positions before turning to foreign workers. In addition, employers may be inspected for compliance with government regulations after their employee has begun working in Canada.

High-Wage Workers

Employers seeking to hire high-wage workers must submit transition plans along with their LMIA application to ensure that they are taking steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time. Proof of investment in skills training or hiring Canadian apprentices are examples of how employers can prove this. Alternatively, employers can demonstrate how they are assisting their high-skilled temporary foreign worker(s) in becoming Canadian permanent residents. If the employer is chosen for an inspection, or if they apply to renew their LMIA, they will be required to report on the progress of the transition plan that they have submitted.

The transition plans are designed to ensure that employers seeking foreign workers are fulfilling the purpose of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). This entails that they are using the TFWP as a last and limited resort to address immediate labour needs on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available, ensuring that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs.

Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory

Province/TerritoryMedian hourly wages  effective May 11, 2020 (2019 Wage)

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

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2018 and 2019

Low-Wage Workers

Employers seeking to hire low-wage workers do not need to submit transition plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application. They must, however, follow a different set of guidelines.

To restrict access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), while ensuring that Canadians are always considered first for available jobs, the Government of Canada has introduced a cap to limit the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers that a business can employ. Furthermore, certain low-wage occupations may be refused for LMIA processing. Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA are subject to a cap of 10 percent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers. 

Employers offering a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage must:

  • pay for round-trip transportation for the temporary foreign worker;
  • ensure affordable housing is available;
  • pay for private health insurance until workers are eligible for provincial health coverage;
  • register the temporary foreign worker with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board; and
  • provide an employer-employee contract.

The TFWP uses the latest Labour Force Survey results for the unemployment rates in regions across Canada. These rates determine which regions are eligible for employers to submit Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) for low-wage/lower skilled occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services sector and the Retail Trade sector.

LMIA applications for these sectors will not be processed in economic regions where the unemployment rate is 6 per cent or higher.

Given its unique labour market conditions, and as requested by the Government of the Northwest Territories, applications in these sectors for positions located in Yellowknife will be accepted for processing.

Expediting an LMIA

According to the IRCC website, LMIAs will be provided within a 10-business-day service standard for workers in the following occupational categories:

  • Highest-demand occupations

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to skilled trades positions where the wage offered is at or above the provincial/territorial median wage. These positions are essential to the development of major infrastructure and natural resource extraction projects, and are therefore considered vital to Canadian economic growth.

NOC 2011OCCUPATION TITLE
7202Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
7204Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades
7205Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers
7271Carpenters
7301Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades
7302Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews
8211Supervisors, logging and forestry
8221Supervisors, mining and quarrying
8222Contractors and supervisors, oil and gas drilling services
8241Logging machinery operators
8252Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
9211Supervisors, mineral and metal processing
9212Supervisors, petroleum, gas and chemical processing and utilities
9214Supervisors, plastic and rubber products manufacturing
9231Central control and process operators, mineral and metal processing
9241Power engineers and power systems operators
9243Water and waste treatment plant operators
7231Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors
7233Sheet metal workers
7235Structural metal and plate work fabricators and fitters
7236Ironworkers
7237Welders and related machine operators
7241Electricians (except industrial and power system)
7242Industrial electricians
7243Power system electricians
7244Electrical power line and cable workers
7245Telecommunications line and cable workers
7246Telecommunications installation and repair workers
7251Plumbers
7252Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers
7253Gas fitters
7311Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
7312Heavy-duty equipment mechanics
7313Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics
7314Railway carmen/women
7315Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors
7318Elevator constructors and mechanics
7371Crane operators
7372Drillers and blasters - surface, mining, quarrying and construction
7373Water well drillers
8231Underground production and development miners
8232Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers
9232Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators
  • Highest-paid occupations ­

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers hiring temporary foreign workers in the highest-paid occupations that offer wages in the top 10 percent of wages earned by Canadians in a given province or territory where the job is located. This wage level indicates that a temporary foreign worker is the highest-skilled in their occupation, and that those skills are difficult to find in the Canadian labour market.

Province/TerritoryMedian hourly wages effective May 11, 2020 (2019 Wage)
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

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2018 and 2019

  • Shortest-duration occupations

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers requesting temporary foreign workers for a short duration, defined as 120 calendar days or less, in any occupation where the wage offered is at or above the provincial or territorial median wage. Positions falling under this category include those related to repairs or manufacturing equipment and warranty work.

After receiving a positive LMIA, the employer should send a copy to their identified foreign worker. The positive LMIA must be included in the worker’s application for a Temporary Work Permit.

A single LMIA can be issued for one or multiple employees. In the case of multiple employees, the LMIA will only be issued to employees who will be filling identical positions as identified by the Canadian National Occupation Classification.

There are several instances where an employer may be exempt from the requirement to secure a LMIA. For more information on LMIA Exemptions, please click here.

Advertising Requirements (Including Exemptions)

Employers wishing to hire a temporary foreign worker to Canada must pay a processing fee of CDN $1,000 for each request for a Labour Market Impact Assessment.

English and French are the only languages that can be put forth as job requirements, both for LMIAs and for job vacancy advertisements, unless the employer can prove that another language is otherwise required for the position.

In addition, employers must advertise all job vacancies across the Canadian job market for at least four weeks before applying for a LMIA. To this end, employers are required to prove that they have used at least two other recruitment methods in addition to having posted an advertisement on the Canada Job Bank. Employers must focus advertising efforts on groups of Canadians who are under-represented, such as First Nations or persons with disabilities.

Employers are required to attest to their awareness that they are prohibited from laying off or cutting the hours of Canadian workers working in the same position(s) as the temporary foreign worker(s) working at the company.

There are a number of variations to the aforementioned advertising requirements. Click here to learn more.

Quebec-specific Exemptions and Variations

This section will look at exemptions and variations to the LMIA process that are specific to the province of Quebec.

  • Work permits issued to holders of a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ)

A Quebec Selection Certificate/certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ) is a document issued by the government of Quebec to individuals who have been approved for immigration to that province. Holders of a CSQ may work in Quebec without their employer needing to secure a LMIA. To learn more, visit this section of our CSQ page.

  • Facilitated list of occupations

Industry sectors experiencing high demand for labour are included on what is known as the list of facilitated LMIA occupations for Quebec. Employers in Quebec applying under the facilitated LMIA process are not required to provide proof of recruitment efforts.

  • Other workers

Foreign workers who do not fall into either of the above categories may have to apply for and obtain a Certificat d'Acceptation du Quebec (Certificate of Acceptance to Quebec, CAQ) and a temporary work permit before beginning their employment in Quebec.

Alberta Refusal to Process List of Occupations

The province of Alberta implemented a refusal to process certain LMIAs related to occupations for which there is an adequate supply of labour in the province. This change is the result of rising unemployment in Alberta due to an economic downturn in the oil and gas industry.

LMIAs for positions in Alberta will not be eligible for processing if they appear on the Alberta Refusal to Process Pilot Project list of occupations, unless they qualify for the following exemptions: 

  • You are seeking to hire a Temporary Foreign Worker for 30 calendar days or less of employment duration;
  • Your are submitting an Express Entry application in support of permanent residence or dual intent;
  • Your application is submitted under the Global Talent Stream and deemed eligible;
  • Is it for an In-home care position with a live-in requirement classified under the NOC codes 3012, 3233, 4411 or 4412 or under the NAICS as a Private household (NAICS 814). 

The list of occupations included on Alberta's refusal to process list is subject to changes in the labour market and is updated approximately twice a year. For the most recent information, you can visit the link provided above.

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