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work in Canada without LMIA

How to work in Canada without LMIA from your employer

Work in Canada without LMIA

Did you know that you can temporarily work in Canada as foreign skilled worker without a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)? You can do so through the Canadian interests category of the International Mobility Program (IMP).

Foreign nationals may seek authorization to work temporarily in Canada primarily in three ways:

  • By a work permit application pursuant to a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) – i.e., through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)
  • By a work permit application that is exempt from the requirement for a LMIA – i.e., through the International Mobility Program (IMP), or
  • By authorization in regulations to work without a work permit (e.g., business visitors, crew, clergy)

LMIA is a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

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 or permanent resident is available to do the job. A positive LMIA is sometimes called a confirmation letter.

Your employer should check if it needs an LMIA, and how to apply for one.

However, Canada also allows certain foreign nationals to work temporarily without requiring an LMIA or going through TFWP.

The International Mobility Program (IMP) lets the employer hire a temporary worker without a positive LMIA.

Unlike the TFWP under which work permits may be issued depending on labour market conditions in specific cases, the IMP enables Canadian employers to hire foreigners for a number of economic and socio-cultural policy reasons.

The International Mobility Program (IMP)

In most cases, the employer has to submit an offer of employment through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)’s Employer Portal.

Thereafter, the temporary foreign worker must apply to IRCC for a work permit.

Once the temporary foreign worker arrives in Canada, there are certain conditions and responsibilities that the employer must meet.

Positions exempt from requiring a LMIA are those which:

  • Provide broad economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada, and
  • Provide reciprocal benefits for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Workers who are eligible for the IMP include:

  • Those entering Canada as part of trade treaties, such as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) or the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).
  • Workers entering Canada on an open work permit.
  • Those entering Canada as intra-company transferees.

International Mobility Programs
Program/StreamWho Can Apply?
The Post Graduation Work Permit ProgramForeigners who have studied at and graduated from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
Reciprocal Youth Exchange AgreementsFor those between the ages of 18 and 30 years of age who want to travel and work in Canada, e.g. under the International Experience Canada (IEC) –
International Free Trade AgreementsNorth American Free Trade Agreement;Canada-Chile FTA/Canada-Peru FTA/Canada-Columbia FTA/Canada-Korea FTA/;Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA); andGeneral Agreement On Trade In Services.
The Intra-Company Transfer ProgramThose planning to transfer to a Canadian branch of the company they currently work for
The Bridging Open Work PermitThose who want to work in Canada and are in the transition phase of becoming a permanent resident
Circumstances of Social or Cultural Benefit to CanadaThose who can contribute to Canada in a significant way through programs such as the Mobilité Francophone Program. This will be reliant on the applicants past successes, recommendations and testimonials from those in a relevant field of expertise.

Job offers via the IMP must be made through the IRCC’s Employer Portal. Employers must register a profile to use the Employer Portal.

Extensive details of the job being offered must be entered into the portal, including a list of duties, the minimum education requirement, experience required, plus wages and benefits.

The information entered could be used in federal government employer compliance audits.

Employers submitting a job offer will receive an offer of employment number. The foreign worker requires this number to complete their work permit application.

Once the work permit application is approved, the foreign worker receives:

  • A letter of introduction if they are outside Canada, or
  • A new work permit if they are already in Canada, or applying at the time of entry.

The letter of introduction is exchanged for a work permit at the port of entry, provided all the requirements are still met.

TFWP and IMP comparison

LMIA requiredNo LMIA required
Work permits are closed (employer-specific)Work permits may be open or closed
Labour market-based (to fill shortages on a temporary basis)To advance Canada’s broader economic and cultural interests
Based on specific labour needs based on occupation and regionBased partially on international reciprocal agreements (e.g. IEC, NAFTA, CETA)
Streams applications based on the wage of the position offeredDoes not stream applications based on the wage offered, but certain streams take occupation skill level into account
Typically requires employers to search for Canadian workers before being able to hire a foreign workerEmployers may hire without first offering the position to Canadians
Employers hiring for high-wage positions usually must provide a transition planEmployers do not have to provide a transition plan
Employer pays fee for LMIA application ($1,000)Employer pays compliance fee ($230) unless job applicant holds an open work permit (in which case, no fee is required)
Two-week processing standard is only available for certain occupations and top 10% wage earners, otherwise the process can run to many monthsMany IMP streams have a two-week work permit processing standard
Overseen by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)Overseen by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)