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Canada LMIA - Labour Market Impact Assessment - 101

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

If you want to work in Canada you have probably heard the term LMIA, but do you know what it means? Do you know how to get an LMIA? Do you know who can get an LMIA? Did you know that there are multiple types of LMIA and that some depend on the wage while others depend on the type of position?

The LMIA is a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker. The LMIA is a process that assesses whether a Canadian or Canadian permanent resident is willing and/or able to perform the duties of the position that is being offered.

A positive LMIA indicates that the officer assessing the file has determined that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the role because they have verified through their assessment that there is no suitable or willing Canadian or Canadian permanent resident for the position.

If an employer requires an LMIA they must apply to ESDC with a thorough and complete application, to have their position assessed and to determine if it will have a positive, neutral or negative impact on the Canadian labour market.

Once an employer receives the positive LMIA letter, which usually arrives via email, the foreign worker may apply for a work permit.

LMIA's can take up to 6 months to process, though generally they are processed in 3-4 months. You should never try to hurry this process. The recruitment effort must be genuine and thorough and the application must be complete.

There are many types of LMIA and this article will review each type so that you can determine which stream is best for your situation. The main types that we use are the following three:

1. Low-Wage LMIA This stream is used if the salary offered to a temporary foreign worker is below a provincial or territorial median hourly wage. The skill type of the position is not relevant. The only thing that is relevant in this case is if the median wage for the position and the wage being offered is below the provincial median wage.

2. High-Wage LMIA This stream is used if the wage offered to a temporary foreign worker is at or higher than a provincial or territorial median hourly wage. Again, the only thing that is relevant in this case is if the median wage for the position and the wage being offered is above the provincial median wage.

3. Permanent Residency Supporting LMIA Only for high skill positions that fall under TEER 0, 1, 2 or 3 in the National Occupational Classification (NOC). This does not preclude low-wage positions, just lower skilled positions in TEERs 4 and 5. A position that falls into a NOC A or B may have an associated wage that is less than the provincial median wage which lets that job fall into a low-wage position. However, it is still a high-skill, TEER 0, 1, 2 or 3 NOC and therefore qualifies as a PR supporting position.

Median Wage, Low and High-Wage LMIAs

Before we go any further we will explore the median wage in-depth so that you have a good understanding of how it is determined and how it is implemented as part of the LMIA process.

Each National Occupation Code in Canada is associated with a median wage. In addition, each province, territory has a median wage which is used to determine if a position is a high or low-wage position. The median wage is updated approximately once per year. This is something you must watch for when preparing an LMIA.

When choosing the stream of LMIA that you will complete you must first look at the provincial or territorial median wage for the position and second for the province.

The salary offered to a foreign worker must be at or above the median wage for the National Occupation Code.

Once you have determined the median wage for the National Occupation Code you then must determine if that is above or below the provincial median wage for all positions. This determines if you will do a high, or low-wage LMIA.

If the salary offered to a foreign worker is below a provincial or territorial median hourly wage then you will complete a low-wage LMIA.

If the wage offered to a temporary worker is at or higher than a provincial or territorial median hourly wage then you will complete a high-wage LMIA

The minimum wage you can pay a foreign worker is the median wage. However, you are welcome to pay more than this. For example, if the median wage for a skilled farm worker is $20 per hour in Ontario, you must pay a foreign worker in this position $20 per hour at a minimum. The current median wage in Ontario is around $24 so this is a low wage position. However, you may pay the foreign worker more if you like and if you decided to pay them $25 per hour then they would be pushed into the high wage range and this would become a high wage position.

This matters because there is a difference in requirements for low and high-wage positions that you should be aware of before you begin the application.

More on Low-Skill and High Skill Positions: In some industries, we don't just talk about low-wage and high-wage positions, but we also get into low-skill and high-skill positions. For example, in farming, we have low-skill and high-skill national occupation codes. These fall under the same stream of LMIA but are different National Occupation Codes and have different benefits and requirements.

The low-skill farmer does general work and their work experience is not qualified for the Canadian Experience Class of Express Entry because the national occupation code is a lower skilled TEER. The high-skill farmer, farm supervisor, is in a national occupation code in a skilled TEER. This means that their experience qualifies for the Canadian Experience Class, and they are eligible to apply to have their family join them in Canada.

In addition to the streams of LMIA described above, there are even more LMIA streams that may be considered.


4. LMIA for Agricultural Workers This LMIA is used to hire foreign workers only for on-farm primary agriculture activity. There are specific National Occupation Codes linked to this LMIA and it has its own set of regulations including housing and water inspections, and other employer responsibilities.

5. LMIA for Seasonal Agricultural Workers This stream of LMIA is used to hire SAWP workers for seasonal work. These workers are citizens of approved countries to perform on-farm primary agriculture activity

6. LMIA for Permanent Residency and a Work Permit This could just as easily be set next to the LMIA for PR. The difference is that it has two purposes. 1. Support PR by offering 50 points towards the worker's Express Entry Profile. 2. Obtain permission to a foreign worker to work while their PR application is in process.

7. LMIA for Global Talent Stream

Under this stream, there are two options for hiring. The first stream, Category A, permits Canadian businesses to employ foreign workers if they meet the requirements of the stream, have been referred to the Global Talent Stream by one of the Stream's designated partners and are hiring an individual with unique and specialized talent - "global talent."

The second stream, Category B, allows Canadian businesses to hire employees in in-demand, skilled positions, such as tech positions, and other positions that are listed on the Global Talent Occupations List. Companies may be eligible for Category B of the Global Talent Stream if they are seeking to hire highly-skilled foreign workers to fill positions in in-demand occupations found on the Global Talent Occupations List. Category B does not require a referral which makes it more attractive to some companies.

An example of a category B position is a high-level position where the candidate possesses considerable experience and who's experience and skill will benefit both the business' growth and the Canadian Labour Market.

The benefits to the Canadian Labour Market may be seen through the training and support that the TFW is able to provide, as well as through business growth that comes as a result of hiring the temporary foreign worker and that leads to more jobs being created for Canadians and Canadian permanent residents.

The Global Talent Stream LMIA is eligible for priority processing as is the work permit associated with hiring the global talent.

8. LMIA for In-home Caregivers Canadians can hire foreign caregivers to care for children, seniors, or persons with certified medical needs in the private household. This stream is being phased out for the popular PR supporting pilot, but there are some instances where this LMIA still has a place. Currently, it can only be applied for from within Canada.

Caregivers may be hired to care for the following individuals:

  1. children under 18 years of age

  2. someone who needs help from a home support worker either in your own home or in your employer’s home and, a caregiver must be employed on a full-time basis with a minimum of 30 hours per week.

The occupations eligible for Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot are:

  1. Home child care provider - NOC 4411

  2. Home support worker - NOC 4412

9. Owner/Operator LMIA

The Owner/Operator LMIA is not an actual stream of LMIA but is a tactful use of the LMIA for Permanent Residency with Permission to Obtain a Work Permit that allows individuals to get 200 points towards their Express Entry profile in order to obtain permanent residency under the Federal-Skilled Worker stream.

In this category, an individual will purchase a business in Canada in which they own at least 50.1 % and preferably more. They will then apply for an LMIA to run the business as the owner/operator. This falls under an 00 National Occupation Code which is eligible for 200 points towards the candidate's Express Entry score. They will get the LMIA, include it in their Express Entry profile, potentially achieve an ITA - Invitation to Apply, and will work in Canada while their application for permanent residency is being processed.

Owner/Operator LMIAs are a strategic way to enter Canada as an investor but this strategy must be executed carefully and thoroughly in order to be successful.

For more information on LMIAs or to have one processed, please contact us or book an appointment at


About Us

Immigration Station Canada is a dedicated, professional Canadian Immigration firm practicing out of Northumberland County, just east of Toronto, in Canada. We serve clients from Kingston, Belleville, Brighton, Cobourg, Oshawa, the GTA, Guelph, Milton, Stratford and St. Catharines and around the world. Our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, Anne C. McCaughey (Annie) is an experienced immigration services provider and a fifth generation Canadian who values the immigration process and the unique individuals who immigrate to Canada to become part of the fabric of this wonderful country. If you would like to submit a question to Ask Annie, use the link located at the top right of the page.

How Can We Help?

We do work permits, study permits, visitor visas, Express Entry, spousal sponsorship, family class sponsorship, and Canadian citizenship with an expertise in Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications and Global Talent Stream applications.

Please contact us if you would like assistance with your immigration application or to book an appointment.


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