An Canadian LMIA is a document that an employer in Canada needs to obtain before hiring most types of foreign workers. A positive LMIA confirms there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job at hand and that no Canadian worker is available to do the job.
An LMIA application must be made by an employer. Once the LMIA is obtained, it must be sent to the foreign worker to accompany the work permit application. The applicant must attach the LMIA to his/her work permit application. Generally, a temporary foreign worker will need a work permit AND a positive LMIA in order to work in Canada in a given job.
Some occupations do not require an LMIA. For a list of jobs that do not require an LMIA, click here.
How CIC makes LMIA application decisions
The decision on whether or not to issue a positive LMIA is made by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and then issued to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). CIC will then inform the employer of the final LMIA decision. In making an LMIA decision, ESDC will consider several factors including:
- The impact of hiring the foreign worker will have on the Canadian Labour Market
- The wages and working conditions being offered to the foreign worker
- The availability of Canadian citizens or permanent residents to do the work in question
- Whether a transfer of useful knowledge and skills would result from hiring the foreign worker
- Whether hiring the foreign worker will help create jobs for Canadian citizens and permanent residents
In making an LMIA decision, ESDC officers will often be in close communication with CIC and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
LMIA Validity and Duration of Employment
After a positive LMIA is issued, a temporary foreign worker has six months to use the LMIA to apply for a work permit. No extensions will be given. If the six-month period expires and the foreign worker does not submit a work permit application, a new LMIA application is required.
The only exception to this rule is for live-in caregivers who are applying to work in Quebec. In Quebec, live-in caregiver applicants first apply for an LMIA. Upon receipt of the LMIA and before applying for a work permit, the worker must apply for the Certificat D’Acceptation du Quebec (CAQ). Due to the processing times associated with the CAQ, an LMIA in these cases will be valid for three months following the issuance of the CAQ, regardless of the LMIA expiry date. For more information on the Quebec LMIA application process, click here. (The Quebec LMIA Application Process and Extensions to Quebec Work Permits.)
Important distinction: The validity of the LMIA is not the same as the duration of employment of the LMIA. The validity of an LMIA indicates the amount of time that a foreign worker applicant has to use the LMIA and apply for a work permit. The duration of employment of an LMIA, on the other hand, indicates the length of the validity period of a potential work permit that will be granted using the LMIA. There are three options relating to the duration of employment for an LMIA:
- Temporary duration to support a work permit application only.
- Permanent duration to support a permanent residence application. Work permits issued under a permanent duration LMIA will be issued for a maximum period of two years, provided the foreign national meets the requirements set out in the LMIA. The work permit will not be extended regardless of whether or not a permanent residence application is underway.
- A combination of permanent and temporary duration to support both a permanent residence application and a work permit application.
Effective April 30th, 2015, there is a new single form that must be used for all LMIA applications. Prior to April 30th, 2015, there were separate application forms for LMIA applications for high-wage and low-wage jobs. The new form, entitled EMP5602, must now be used for ALL LMIA applications. The form generally incorporates the same questions as previous LMIA forms.
The new form also contains a notice to employers regarding circumstances where an employer changes a foreign worker’s terms and conditions of employment. Employers must immediately inform Service Canada if they make any changes to a worker’s terms and conditions of employment as described in the original positive LMIA. If these changes are found to be acceptable, the worker’s file will be updated accordingly. In certain cases, Service Canada may require an employer to apply for a new LMIA.
If, upon inspection, Service Canada discovers that it was not informed of changes to a worker’s terms and conditions of employment, the employer will be held accountable. This could lead to an employer facing Administrative Monetary Penalties, and being banned from hiring temporary foreign workers in the future for a period of time.
Service Canada currently relies on 2014 economic data when assessing LMIA applications. If the wages offered to a foreign worker are within the top 10% of wages normally offered for the job at hand, the applicant will be considered a high-wage applicant. High-wage LMIA applications are generally processed faster.
Interested employers: Kindly contact us here to receive further information.
Interested candidates: Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. We will provide you with our evaluation within 1-2 business days.