Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formally known as Labour Market Opinion (LMO) is a document most employers in Canada will need to hire a foreign worker. LMIA is to confirm that there is no domestic worker who can fill the position. The Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is the agency that issues an LMIA.  A foreign worker or potential foreign worker will find an LMIA necessary or helpful in the following situations:

(1) A foreign worker (including new caregiver) who needs to work in Canada with no exemption by law;

(2) A foreign student studying English/French as a second language (ESL/FSL), or participating in general interest or preparatory courses needs to apply for a work permit to work;

(3) A candidate in the Express Entry pool who wishes to receive the additional 600 points of arranged employment.

There are some obvious exceptions for the requirement of LMIA. If a foreign worker has a valid work permit, such as open work permit, of course LMIA is not required. More often than not, whether certain work or position is exempt from the requirement of LMIA is a delicate question, and the employer or prospective employee should consult with an immigration lawyer. In the case where you need to apply for a work permit, you must include the LMIA number and a copy of the LMIA in your application as well as a job offer and a contract.

How the LMIA works

In LMIA applications, occupations from NOC list are divided into low-wage / lower-skilled occupations and high-wage / higher-skilled occupations.  The boundary is the provincial/territorial median hourly wage.  There are more requirements for low-wage occupations than high-wage ones.

In the high wage/higher-skilled positions, employers should demonstrate the inability to hire a local candidate after substantial efforts of recruitment have been made.

There are more restrictions for LMIA for the lower skilled position. A low-wage occupation will not be eligible for an LMIA unless it meets 3 criteria at the same time:

(1) the economic region, where the employer needs foreign workers, has an unemployment rate of 6 % or higher;

(2) the employer was classified as Accommodation and food service or Retail trade under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS); and

(3) the occupation is classified in the NOC 6641, 6661, 6611, 6622, 7611, 8612, 6672, 6663, 6662, 6651.

Even the occupation is not refused to apply for an LMIA, employers who want to employ temporary foreign workers for low-income positions for the first time can give no more than 10% of the low-wage positions in a work place to temporary foreign workers, pursuant to a CIC announcement on June 23, 2016.  The exemptions for this cap are few.  There are more requirements concerning language, previous education, necessary training, qualification and certification, transportation from and back to home country, housing, work safety, contracts, labour union, recruitment and advertisement.  Most of the requirements are imposed on the employers.

Once the employer receives a confirmation letter of LMIA’s approval, the positive LMIA is only valid for six months from the issuance date.  Normally, the LMIA recommends the length of work permit that should be approved.  If the employer wants to continue hiring the same foreign worker, she has to apply for a new LMIA months before the current work permit expires.  Also, the employer has to make sure the foreign worker does not work for over 4 years.  If the foreign worker is, then he or she will not be eligible for further work permit unless he or she waits for another 4 years to be allowed to work in Canada again.

Employers who have hired temporary foreign workers may undergo a compliance review when applying for a new LMIA.

Employers hiring in Québec may send the LMIA application to Service Canada for confirmation before sending it to the Ministry of Immigration in Québec. Québec has a simplified rule for hiring temporary foreign workers though.

LMIA and Express Entry

As what we have discussed in Express Entry, candidates may get an additional 600 points for their arranged employment with a positive LMIA.  To be qualified for these points, the position that the employer offers must meet the following requirements:

(1) it falls in Type 0, Level A or Level B in the NOC (Level B for Federal Skilled Trades Program);

(2) it is full-time (30+ hours/week);

(3) it is permanent (1+ year for Federal Skilled Trades Program);

(4) it is non-seasonal (Federal Skilled Trades Program excluded).

A candidate with an LMIA meeting the conditions above should consider applying for immigration to Canada under the Express Entry system.


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