Charity and Religion

Charity and Religion

Foreign nationals who are coming to work for a Canadian charitable or religious organization could be eligible for a facilitated work authorization process. This process could consist of the work permit being exempt from the LMIA, or in certain cases the foreign national could be exempt from the work permit altogether.

Factors must be assessed to determine whether an LMIA exemption is appropriate in a given situation. First, the nature of the organization must be definitively ascertained. In order to qualify for the LMIA exempt work permit, the organization must be either charitable or religious, meaning it must be non-profit, and have as its primary goal the relief of poverty, the advancement of certain important community interests, or the benefit of educational or religious institutions.

After the issue of the nature of the organization is resolved, the nature of the work must then be assessed. Simply working for a qualifying organization is not sufficient for a foreign national to be eligible for the LMIA exemption. Instead, it must be demonstrated that the work being performed by the foreign national actually constitutes charitable or religious work. For this certain factors are taken into account, such as if the work performed by the foreign national serves to advance the charitable or religious mandate of the organization or whether the organization will benefit financially from the foreign national’s work. The more in-line this work is with the stated goal of the organization and the less the organization will receive remuneration as a result of the worker’s services, the more likely the work is to be considered charitable or religious.

Clergy Work Authorization

With respect to religious work, foreign nationals that can be classified as members of the “clergy” do not in fact require work permits to practice in Canada. This exception is tightly circumscribed and applies only to foreign nationals coming to engage in traditional religious activities, such as the preaching of doctrine or presiding over public worship.

Working for a religious entity, such as a church or synagogue, could be indicative of the presence of religious work, but it is by no means conclusive in this regard. If the work being done is wholly unrelated to the religion in question, for example if the worker is performing bookkeeping or accounting work, then a work permit would be required.


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