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Navigating the LMIA Process: Your Gateway to Canadian Work Opportunities

If your career aspirations involve working in Canada, you've likely encountered the term LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment). But do you truly understand what it entails, how to obtain one, who is eligible, and the various types available? This comprehensive guide will unravel the complexities of the LMIA process, empowering you with the knowledge needed to embark on your Canadian work journey.

What is an LMIA?

An LMIA is a vital document that Canadian employers may require before hiring a foreign worker. It serves as a means to assess whether a Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available and capable of fulfilling the job responsibilities offered to the foreign worker.

A positive LMIA indicates that the assessing officer has determined a genuine need for a foreign worker, as there is no suitable Canadian or Canadian permanent resident for the position. Employers must submit a thorough and complete application to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to have their position assessed and determine its impact on the Canadian labour market.

Upon receiving a positive LMIA, typically via email, the foreign worker can proceed to apply for a work permit. It's essential to note that LMIA processing times can take up to six months, though three to four months is more common. Rushing this process is ill-advised, as the recruitment efforts must be genuine and comprehensive, and the application must be meticulously prepared.

Types of LMIA

There are several types of LMIA, each catering to different employment scenarios. Let's explore the main types:

1. Low-Wage LMIA

This stream applies when the offered salary for a temporary foreign worker is below the provincial or territorial median hourly wage, irrespective of the skill level of the position. The key criterion is whether the wage offered falls below the provincial median wage.

2. High-Wage LMIA

High-Wage LMIA comes into play when the offered wage for a temporary foreign worker equals or surpasses the provincial or territorial median hourly wage. Similar to the low-wage stream, the decisive factor is whether the wage offered exceeds the provincial median wage.

3. Permanent Residency Supporting LMIA

Reserved for high-skill positions classified under NOC skill levels 0, 1, 2, or 3. While it does not exclude low-wage positions, it primarily focuses on high-skill NOCs, allowing workers to support their permanent residency applications.

Understanding Median Wage

Understanding the concept of median wage is crucial for LMIA applicants. Each National Occupation Code (NOC) in Canada is associated with a specific median wage. Additionally, each province and territory has its median wage used to determine if a position qualifies as high or low wage.

The foreign worker's salary must be equal to or above the NOC's median wage. To ascertain the appropriate LMIA stream, one must compare the NOC median wage to the provincial median wage for the specific position.

For instance, if the offered salary falls below the provincial or territorial median hourly wage, a low-wage LMIA is necessary. Conversely, if the wage meets or exceeds the provincial or territorial median hourly wage, a high-wage LMIA is required.

It's essential to note that while the minimum wage for a foreign worker is the median wage, employers can choose to pay a higher wage if they wish. This flexibility can affect whether a position falls into the high-wage or low-wage category.

Distinguishing Low-Skill and High-Skill Positions

In certain industries, the differentiation between low-wage and high-wage positions is complemented by low-skill and high-skill categories. For example, in farming, different National Occupation Codes exist for low-skill and high-skill positions, each having unique benefits and requirements.

Low-skill positions are typically associated with lower-skilled NOCs, making their work experience ineligible for the Canadian Experience Class of Express Entry. Conversely, high-skill positions are linked to NOCs in skilled categories, enabling workers to qualify for the Canadian Experience Class and apply to have their families join them in Canada.

Additional LMIA Streams

Beyond the main LMIA types, several other streams may be applicable:

4. LMIA for Agricultural Workers

This LMIA is used exclusively for hiring foreign workers in on-farm primary agricultural activities, with specific National Occupation Codes linked to it. It comes with its set of regulations, including housing and water inspections and other employer responsibilities.

5. LMIA for Seasonal Agricultural Workers

This stream facilitates the hiring of Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) workers for seasonal agricultural work. These workers must be citizens of approved countries and engage in on-farm primary agricultural activities.

6. LMIA for Permanent Residency and Work Permit

This LMIA serves a dual purpose:

  • Supporting permanent residency by providing 50 points towards the worker's Express Entry profile.

  • Permitting foreign workers to work while their PR application is in progress.

7. LMIA for Global Talent Stream

Under this stream, there are two categories for hiring:

  • Category A: For hiring individuals with unique and specialized talents ("global talent") who meet specific requirements and are referred to the Global Talent Stream by designated partners.

  • Category B: For hiring highly-skilled foreign workers in in-demand occupations, such as tech positions, listed on the Global Talent Occupations List. Unlike Category A, Category B does not require a referral, making it attractive to some employers.

8. LMIA for In-Home Caregivers

This stream allows Canadian employers to hire foreign caregivers to provide care for children, seniors, or individuals with certified medical needs within private households. While it is being phased out in favor of the PR-supporting pilot, there are still instances where it may apply.

9. Owner/Operator LMIA

While not a standalone LMIA stream, this strategic use of the LMIA for Permanent Residency with Permission to Obtain a Work Permit allows individuals to gain 200 points towards their Express Entry profile. By purchasing and running a business in Canada, they can work while their PR application is processed.


Navigating the LMIA process can be complex, but understanding the different streams and their requirements is crucial. Whether you're an employer looking to hire foreign talent or a foreign worker seeking opportunities in Canada, having a clear grasp of LMIA intricacies will be invaluable on your path to Canadian employment.

For more information on LMIA or assistance with the application process, please feel free to contact us or schedule an appointment at

Immigration Station Canada will work with you and guide you through the best process to achieve your goals, wherever they lead!


About Us

Immigration Station Canada is a dedicated, professional Canadian Immigration firm practicing out of Northumberland County, just east of Toronto, Canada. We serve clients from Kingston, Belleville, Brighton, Cobourg, Oshawa, the GTA, Guelph, Milton, Stratford, 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 contact form.

How Can We Help?  We do work permits, study permits, visitor visas, Express Entry, spousal sponsorship, family class sponsorship, and Canadian citizenship with 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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