Generally, a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is required before a Canadian employer can hire a temporary foreign worker (formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion – LMO).
An LMIA is a form of labour market verification designed to protect Canada’s domestic job marketplace, as well as protect foreign workers employed in Canada temporarily. Only under select circumstances can LMIA-exempt work permits be obtained.
Obtaining a Canada work permit is typically a two-step process. First, the Canadian employer must submit a qualifying LMIA application to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). It is incumbent on the Canadian employer to also submit a detailed list of Canadians who applied for the position; the number of Canadians interviewed for the position, and detailed explanations for why the
Canadian candidates considered were not hired. Canadian employers may be subject to inspection for compliance once a work permit has been issued.
When assessing the merits of the applicant ESDC will consider:
If ESDC is satisfied that a given region and industry are healthy enough to sustain foreign labour, a positive LMIA will be issued.
LMIAs are specific to employers, the position being offered, and the region in which the job is located. Obtaining a positive LMIA does not allow you to change your job or employer, or move to another Canadian region after acquiring a work permit. In any of those instances you are required to seek a new LMIA.
The LMIA process distinguishes between “high-wage” and “low-wage” employees. Temporary foreign workers whose remuneration is below the provincial/territorial median wage are considered low-wage. Temporary foreign workers whose remuneration is equal to or above the median wage are considered high-wage.
The submission of a transition plan is a compulsory requirement for all Canadian employers seeking to employ a temporary foreign worker(s) at a wage that is equal to or above the provincial/territorial median hourly wage. Transition plans exist to ensure the employer intends to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers in favour of Canadians.
Canadian employers looking to hire low-wage workers do not need to submit a transition plan when applying for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Unlike high-wage workers, however, they are subject to a cap that limits the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers a given business can employ. Canadian employers with more than 10 employees will be restricted to a maximum 10% cap on low-wage temporary foreign workers.
This cap will be phased in over the next two years, to allow Canadian employers time to transition to a Canadian workforce.
LMIA processing times can be somewhat unpredictable, ranging from a couple of weeks, to a few months. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has pledged to process certain LMIA applications within 10 business days. The following categories will now be processed with a 10-business-day service standard:
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