In most cases, a Canadian employer wishing to hire a foreign worker must first receive government approval before the hiring can take place. This comes in the form of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).
In order to receive a positive LMIA, the Canadian government employee reviewing an application must determine that the hiring of a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour market. Among other factors, it must be clear that no qualified Canadians were passed up in favour of the foreign worker, and that the foreign worker will be given a salary and benefits that meet federal and provincial standards.
The LMIA process is different depending on whether the targeted employee is classified as “high-wage” or “low-wage”. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage are considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above are considered high-wage. Depending on whether a prospective employee is classified as high-wage or low-wage, certain specific provisions apply.
Generally speaking, all Canadian employers must provide evidence that they have attempted to find qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill job positions before turning to foreign workers. In addition, employers may be inspected for compliance with government regulations after their employee has begun working in Canada.
The LMIA process is different depending on whether the targeted employee is classified as “high-wage” or “low-wage”. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage are considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above are considered high-wage.
Employers seeking to hire high-wage workers must submit transition plans along with their LMIA application to ensure that they are taking steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time.
Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory
|Province/Territory||Wage ($/hr) as of May 11, 2020|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||$23.00|
|Prince Edward Island||$20.00|
Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2017 and 2018
Employers seeking to hire low-wage workers do not need to submit transition plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). They must, however, follow a different set of guidelines.
Employers offering a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage must:
- pay for round-trip transportation for the temporary foreign worker;
- ensure affordable housing is available;
- pay for private health insurance until workers are eligible for provincial health coverage;
- register the temporary foreign worker with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board; and
- provide an employer-employee contract.
Expediting a LMIA
According to the IRCC website, LMIAs will be provided within a 10-business-day service standard for workers in the following occupational categories:
The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to skilled trades positions where the wage offered is at or above the provincial/territorial median wage. These positions are essential to the development of major infrastructure and natural resource extraction projects, and are therefore considered vital to Canadian economic growth.
List of skilled trades eligible for 10-day speed of service：
|NOC 2006||NOC 2011||Occupation title|
|7212||7202||Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations|
|7215||7204||Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades|
|7219||7205||Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers|
|7216||7301||Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades|
|7217||7302||Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews|
|8211||8211||Supervisors, logging and forestry|
|8221||8221||Supervisors, mining and quarrying|
|8222||8222||Contractors and supervisors, oil and gas drilling services|
|8241||8241||Logging machinery operators|
|8252 / 8253||8252||Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers|
|9211||9211||Supervisors, mineral and metal processing|
|9212||9212||Supervisors, petroleum, gas and chemical processing and utilities|
|9214||9214||Supervisors, plastic and rubber products manufacturing|
|9231||9231||Central control and process operators, mineral and metal processing|
|7351 / 7352||9241||Power engineers and power systems operators|
|9424||9243||Water and waste treatment plant operators|
|7231||7231||Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors|
|7261||7233||Sheet metal workers|
|7263||7235||Structural metal and plate work fabricators and fitters|
|7265||7237||Welders and related machine operators|
|7241||7241||Electricians (except industrial and power system)|
|7243||7243||Power system electricians|
|7244||7244||Electrical power line and cable workers|
|7245||7245||Telecommunications line and cable workers|
|7246||7246||Telecommunications installation and repair workers|
|7252||7252||Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers|
|7311 / 7317||7311||Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics|
|7312||7312||Heavy-duty equipment mechanics|
|7313||7313||Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics|
|7315||7315||Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors|
|7318||7318||Elevator constructors and mechanics|
|7372||7372||Drillers and blasters– surface, mining, quarrying and construction|
|7373||7373||Water well drillers|
|8231||8231||Underground production and development miners|
|8232||8232||Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers|
|9232||9232||Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators|
The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers hiring temporary foreign workers in the highest-paid occupations that offer wages in the top 10 percent of wages earned by Canadians in a given province or territory where the job is located. This wage level indicates that a temporary foreign worker is the highest-skilled in their occupation, and that those skills are difficult to find in the Canadian labour market.
Top 10% wage earners eligible for 10-day speed of service：
|Province/Territory||Hourly wages prior to May 11, 2020||Hourly wages effective May 11, 2020|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||$43.96||$45.00|
|Prince Edward Island||$37.50||$38.46|
Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2018 and 2019
The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers requesting temporary foreign workers for a short duration, defined as 120 calendar days or less, in any occupation where the wage offered is at or above the provincial or territorial median wage. Positions falling under this category include those related to repairs or manufacturing equipment and warranty work.
The job offer is to support a skilled worker’s application for permanent residence under one of the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Express Entry eligible programs.
The Agricultural Stream allows employers to hire Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) for a maximum period of 24 months when Canadians and permanent residents are not available.
You can only hire a temporary foreign agricultural worker in occupations and activities related to primary agriculture.
Primary agriculture is defined as work duties that must:
- be performed within the boundaries of a farm, nursery or greenhouse
- involve at least one activity, such as:
- operation of agricultural machinery
- boarding, care, breeding, sanitation or other handling of animals, other than fish, for the purpose of obtaining raw animal products for market
- collection, handling and assessment of those raw products, or the planting, care, harvesting or preparation of crops, trees, sod or other plants for market
- be consistent with one of these National Occupational Classification codes: 0821, 0822, 8252, 8255, 8431, 8432, and 8611
To qualify for this stream, employers must meet 2 criteria:
- production must be in specific commodity sectors, and
- the activity must be related to on-farm primary agriculture
National commodity list：
- apiary products
- fruits, vegetables (including canning/processing of these products if grown on the farm)
- nursery-grown trees including Christmas trees, greenhouses/nurseries
- pedigreed canola seed
For many businesspersons around the world, Canada is the logical choice to embark upon a new business venture or for expanding an existing business.
Generally, to obtain a work permit, a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) must first be conducted and approved. As part of the LMIA process, Canadian employers must demonstrate that employing a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral impact on the Canadian labour market, and that there is currently no Canadian citizen or permanent resident available to fill the position, which is typically done by advertising the position on several venues.
If entrepreneurs had to surrender the helm of their Canadian company due to a lengthy and convoluted work permit application process, most of them would look elsewhere to start or expand their business. Fortunately, the government of Canada understands this and has had the foresight effectively address these concerns with the Owner/Operator LMIA stream.
Majority business owners (over 50% ownership) may be eligible for a work permit under the Owner/Operator stream, and as such, exempt from the advertising requirements of the LMIA. This facilitates the process greatly, as this is usually the most difficult hurdle of a LMIA and its ancillary work permit application.
The main purpose of this LMIA stream is to provide a facilitated route through which foreign nationals can enter Canada to run their business. Quite understandably, most business owners are protective of their company and are adamant about personally overseeing its operation in order to ensure it is running according to their specifications.