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Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA): The Basics

What is an LMIA?

An LMIA (formerly, Labour Market Opinion or LMO) is an assessment done by the Economic and Social Development Canada that assesses an offer of employment to ensure that the employment of a foreign worker will not have a negative impact on the Canadian Labour Market.

A positive LMIA will show that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job. It will also show that no Canadian worker is available to do the job.

When assessing an offer of employment, ESDC will consider the following factors:

  1. Salary/wage- is the wage offered to the foreign worker consistent with the median wage for that occupation in the area where the position is located?
  2. Is there a labour shortage for that occupation in that area?
  3. Are the working conditions consistent with labour laws?
  4. Is there an ongoing labour dispute in the company?
  5. Has the Canadian employer made recruitment efforts to find a Canadian to fill the role?
  6. Does the foreign worker have unique skills and expertise that they could transfer to Canadians?
  7. Will hiring the foreign worker help create or retain jobs for Canadians?
  8. Will the foreign worker be the employee of the Canadian employer, and be expected to work on a full-time basis, at a pre-determined wage?

Generally, the more specialized the position, the higher the salary, and the more skills and expertise the foreign worker possesses, the higher the chances of obtaining a positive LMIA.

Do I need an LMIA?

Generally, individuals applying for a Work Permit require an LMIA. An employer may need to receive a positive LMIA before hiring a foreign worker, depending on the circumstances.

Some individuals are exempt from requiring an LMIA. These individuals include:

  • Workers covered under international agreements
    • For example, NAFTA Work Permits.  The North America Free Trade Agreement allows professionals and investors to obtain work permits without a labor market opinion.
  • Dependents (spouses and children) of Foreign Workers holding a Canadian work permit for a skilled position.
    • Please note that this does not apply to the spouses of working holiday visa holders.
  • Provincial Nominees
Individuals holding a certificate of nomination or selection (in the case of Quebec) who have a job offer in the province where they were nominated/selected do not require a labor market opinion.  The Canadian federal government is re-negotiating LMO/LMIA exemptions with the provinces and territories during 2014, so provincial nominees may be subject to LMIAs in the future.
  • Intra-company Transferees
    • Foreign workers who have worked for a branch/subsidiary/parent of a Canadian company abroad and who are coming to Canada in a managerial/specialized knowledge position do not need a labor market opinion.
  • Participants in programs such as the Working Holiday Visa program or (IEC)
  • Co-op students
    • Where a work placement or internship is part of the field of study, the foreign student does not need to obtain a labor market opinion.
  • Religious Workers
    • Foreign workers in Canada who are working for a charitable organization or religious institution.
  • Spouses and common-law partners of full-time foreign students are eligible for open work permits(not requiring a job offer or a labor market opinion).
    • This category also applies to the spouses and common-law partners of Canadians who have sponsored them in Canada and who have obtained approval of the Canadian sponsor.

Stay posted for more information regarding LMIAs, how to apply for them, and what makes a strong application in upcoming posts.

Christopher Elgin has been a member of the British Columbia bar since January of 1988. He worked for the Immigration and Refugee Board as a legal advisor to the Board members for over three years and in 1993 he opened his own immigration law practice. In 1995, he joined forces with Douglas Cannon, another immigration…

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