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What is an LMIA, and how do I know if I need one?

Question submitted by Adrian D.

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker. You’ll obtain an LMIA from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). If the employer needs an LMIA, they must apply for one. The LMIA application process depends on the type of program you’re hiring through.

There are many program options;

High-wage/ Low-wage workers

These LMIAs are used by foreigners to obtain permission to apply for a work permit to work in a business that is being established in Canada. The wage offered by the employer determines which LMIA stream applies. Each province and territory have an overall average wage. If the wage offered is higher than that average, you apply for a High-wage LMIA. If lower, then the Low-wage LMIA is the appropriate option.

Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program*

Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers (TFW) when Canadians and permanent residents are not available.

These employers can hire TFWs from participating countries for a maximum period of 8 months, provided they are able to offer the workers a minimum of 240 hours of work within a period of 6 weeks or less.

To qualify for the SAWP, employers must meet 3 criteria:

  1. the TFWs hired must be citizens from Mexico or participating Caribbean countries

  2. production must be in specific commodity sectors

  3. the activity must be related to on-farm primary agriculture

Agricultural Stream Workers*

Employers can hire citizens of approved countries to do work in on-farm agriculture tasks.

*These 2 streams are very similar but have key differences. Check out this chart by F.A.R.M.S that details the differences.

Permanent Residency With Or Without A Work Permit

Employers who wish to hire skilled foreign workers and support their permanent resident visa application can make a job offer under Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Express Entry system. The job offer must meet the criteria of 1 of the listed economic immigration programs. These programs include:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

Caregiver LMIA

Families can hire a foreign caregiver to provide care, in a private residence, to children, seniors or persons with certified medical needs, when Canadians and permanent residents are not available. Under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), families can hire foreign caregivers. However, the caregivers must:

  • provide care on a full-time basis (minimum 30 hours per week)

  • work in the private household where the care is being provided

  • meet the requirements set by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

These families or private household employers will be able to hire foreign workers, on a live-in or live-out basis, for 2 categories of in-home workers, which include:

1. Caregivers for children

  • Children under 18 years of age

2. Caregivers for people with high medical needs

  • Elderly persons, 65 years of age or over

  • People with disabilities, a chronic or terminal illness

* At this time the caregiver LMIA is only for candidates who are already in Canada. If your caregiver is outside Canada you must use the Caregiver pilot program.

Global Talent Stream

This stream allows employers to hire foreign workers for specialized occupations when Canadians are not available for specific positions. There are 2 categories that fall under the Global Talent Stream - Category A & B.

For Category A of the Global Talent Stream, an innovative company must be referred by 1 of the Stream’s designated referral partners on the basis that the position being requested requires unique and specialized talent to help the firm scale up and grow.

In order to be eligible for Category A, a designated referral partner must validate that a company meets the following eligibility criteria at the time of each referral to ESDC:

  • is operating in Canada

  • has a focus on innovation

  • has a willingness, and is capable of growing or scaling up

  • is seeking to fill a unique and specialized position in the company, and

  • has identified a qualified foreign worker for potential hire into that unique and specialized position

A unique and specialized position is indicated by:

  • at least $38.46 per hour ($80,000 annual base salary), or equivalent to the prevailing wage for the occupation if it is higher. Note that employers must offer the equivalent of both the hourly wage rate and annual base salary at a minimum, and

  • advanced knowledge of the industry, and

  • advanced degree in an area of specialization of interest to the employer, and/or

  • minimum of 5 years of experience in the field of specialized experience

For Category B of the Global Talent Stream, applications will be accepted from firms in Canada that need to hire highly-skilled foreign workers for occupations found on ESDC's Global Talent Occupations List, which have been determined to be in demand and for which there is insufficient domestic labour supply.

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


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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 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 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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