LMIA: How to Get a Labour Market Impact Assessment

Last updated: 10 August 2023

CV LMIA How to Get a Labour Market Impact Assessment 2 v2

Some employers must apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) if they want to hire a foreign worker in Canada.

The purpose of the LMIA is to ensure the arrival of the foreign worker will not hurt workers in Canada. 

If you are an employer looking to hire a foreign worker, please complete our contact form to schedule a free telephone consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm.

Table of Contents


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—more specifically to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The 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. 

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): they are using the TFWP as a last and limited resort to address immediate labour needs.

    Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory

    Due to the recent change from previous median hourly wage standard (prior to May 31st 2023), ESDC has included the following provisions:

    • If an LMIA was submitted on or after May 31st, 2023, Service Canada will use the new median wages to determine whether the application is high-wage or low-wage; and
    • A 90-day transition period will be in effect between May 31st and August 29th, 2023. During this period ESDC will work with employers whose application may have switched between low and high-wage streams (or vice versa)—as well as accept applications that meet the original submission requirements, as now meeting the new requirements as well.
    Province/territoryMedian hourly wages as of May 31, 2023
    British Columbia$27.50
    New Brunswick$23.00
    Newfoundland and Labrador$25.00
    Northwest Territories$38.00
    Nova Scotia$22.97
    Prince Edward Island$22.50

    Source for wage rates effective May 31st, 2023: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2021 to 2022, based on NOC 2021.

    Employers can also contact the Employer Contact Centre for further information.

      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: Occupations

      Note that for any kind of expedited application for an LMIA, ESDC will only meet the 10 day service standard if:

      • the application is complete;
      • ESDC does not need additional time for consultation or clarification concerning your application; and
      • the employer has not been selected for a compliance review.

      According to the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (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 2021
      Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
      Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades
      Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers
      Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades
      Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews
      Supervisors, logging and forestry
      Supervisors, mining and quarrying
      Contractors and supervisors, oil and gas drilling services
      Logging machinery operators
      Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
      Supervisors, mineral and metal processing
      Supervisors, petroleum, gas and chemical processing and utilities
      Supervisors, plastic and rubber products manufacturing
      Central control and process operators, mineral and metal processing
      Power engineers and power systems operators
      Water and waste treatment plant operators
      Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors
      Sheet metal workers
      Structural metal and plate work fabricators and fitters
      Welders and related machine operators
      Electricians (except industrial and power system)
      Industrial electricians
      Power system electricians
      Electrical power line and cable workers
      Telecommunications line and cable workers
      Telecommunications installation and repair workers
      Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers
      Gas fitters
      Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
      Heavy-duty equipment mechanics
      Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics
      Railway carmen/women
      Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors
      Elevator constructors and mechanics
      Crane operators
      Drillers and blasters - surface, mining, quarrying and construction
      Water well drillers
      Underground production and development miners
      Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers
      Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators

      Expediting an LMIA: Wages

      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.

      Median hourly wages effective May 11, 2020 (2019 Wage)
      British Columbia
      New Brunswick
      Newfoundland and Labrador
      Northwest Territories
      Nova Scotia
      Prince Edward Island

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

      Expediting an LMIA: Job Duration

        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.

        Expediting an LMIA: Express Entry

        The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers who are submitting an LMIA to support a temporary foreign worker's application for permanent residence, under any of IRCC's Express Entry-aligned programs.

        Foreign nationals attempting to immigrate to Canada under an economic class program will usually need at least one year's worth of full-time eligible work experience

        Effective September 2023, IRCC will begin the Recognized Employer Pilot (REP), allowing employers who frequently use, and have a good track record under the TFWP to benefit from access to a simplified LMIA application process, longer validities on approved LMIAs, and more. 

        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.

        About the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

        Would you like to apply for an LMIA? The Cohen Immigration Law Firm can help. Cohen Immigration Law offers over 45 years of expertise assisting workers and employers navigate Canadian immigration regulations.

        Please complete our short form to submit your question directly to our law firm. One of our lawyers will contact you to schedule a free telephone consultation.

        Contact Cohen Immigration Law Firm for Assistance