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Do all Canada work permits require an LMIA?

Posted on March 20, 2020
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Canada work permit and LMIA

If you wish to work in Canada, there are two options available to you. One option is to apply for a work permit and move to Canada. The work permit is given to you provided you have a valid job offer (except for those jobs that are exempted) from a Canadian employer. Your application for the work permit must include the job offer letter.

The other option is to go through the Express Entry system where you as a skilled worker can apply for permanent residency in Canada. Work permits can be issued to both high-skilled and low-skilled workers who want to work in Canada, but they will have to express their intention to leave the country once the work permit expires.

However, the work experience that is gained in Canada on a work permit will be counted if you make an application under Express Entry for permanent residence.

Types of work permits:

There are two kinds of work permits you can apply for to work in Canada, one is the open-work permit and the other is the employer-specific work permit.

The open work permit is not confined to a specific job or employer. On the other hand, employer-specific job permits grant permission to foreign workers to work only for a specific position under a specific employer. These permit holders will have to apply for a new work permit if they wish to change jobs or undertake new responsibilities under the same job.

LMIA and work permits:

An employer who wants to hire a foreign worker they will have to get a Labor Market Impact Assessment or LMIA. This is required to prove that the employer has made attempts to unsuccessfully fill the open position with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident before hiring a foreign worker for the position.

A foreign worker who is applying for a work permit must have a copy of the LMIA as part of his application for a work permit. However certain types of work permits are exempt from the LMIA. These include:

  • Closed Work Permits
  • Closed LMIA-exempt Work Permits

While open work permits do not require an LMIA from the employer for approval, closed permits have this requirement.

 Most of the work permits are closed work permits and they require a positive LMIA. Closed work permits are employer-specific and apply to a specific position and specific employer mentioned in the LMIA.

The closed LMIA-exempt work permits allow foreign workers to work for a specific employer in a specific position but do not need an LMIA. The nature of the job usually decides if it is LMIA exempt or not.

Conditions for LMIA exemption:

Significant benefit: If your employer can prove that your employment will bring important economic, cultural or social benefit to the country then the work permit will be LMIA exempt. These can include artists, technical workers, engineers or professionals with specialized skills or knowledge.

Reciprocal employment: Foreign workers who have an opportunity to work in specific industries in Canada and where Canadians have similar opportunities in other countries. Examples include professional athletes, coaches or professors or students participating in exchange programs.

Entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals: Individuals from other countries who want to be self-employed or start their own business which would bring some sort of benefit to Canadian citizens are granted this permit.

Intra company transferees: International companies can send foreign employees to Canada on a temporary basis without requiring an LMIA.

French-speaking skilled workers: Foreign workers who can speak French and have a job offer for a province or territory outside Quebec will not require an LMIA.

Apart from this, overseas participants of international trade agreements or international youth exchange programs are eligible for LMIA exempt work permits.

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