Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Exemptions
A Canadian employer must generally receive a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to bring a temporary foreign worker to Canada. However, there are several cases where the need for an LMIA may be waived.
Some of the most common LMIA-exempt streams are outlined below. This page is divided into the following sections:
- Significant benefit
- Reciprocal employment
- Charitable and religious worker
Note: Being exempt from obtaining an LMIA does not mean the individual is exempt from getting a work permit. All streams on the LMIA exemption list still require the individual to obtain a work permit to work in Canada legally.
Apart from the situations outlined below in this section, Canadian visa officers have a degree of flexibility in assessing whether issuing a work permit to a foreign national is desirable without the need for an LMIA to be secured. This is known as a significant social or cultural benefit.
The foreign national’s proposed benefit to Canada through their work must be significant, meaning it must be important or notable. Officers typically rely on the testimony of credible, trustworthy, and distinguished experts in the foreign national’s field, as well as any objective evidence provided. The foreign national’s record is a good indicator of their level of achievement.
Objective measures for “significant social or cultural benefit”:
- an official academic record showing that the foreign national has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to the area of their ability;
- evidence from current or former employers showing that the foreign national has significant full-time experience in the occupation for which they are sought (essential in this context can be taken to mean ten or more years experience);
- has been the recipient of national or international awards or patents;
- evidence of membership in organizations requiring excellence of its members;
- having been the judge of the work of others;
- evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the field by peers, governmental organizations, or professional or business associations;
- evidence of scientific or scholarly contributions to the field by the foreign national;
- publications authored by the foreign national in academic or industry journals; and
- the leading role of the foreign national in an organization with a distinguished reputation.
An LMIA exemption may be granted to private entrepreneurs who wish to come to Canada temporarily to start or operate a business. Applicants to one of these programs must be the sole or majority owners of the company they wish to pursue in Canada. They will also have to demonstrate that their business will significantly benefit Canada. Entrepreneurs are only eligible for LMIA-exempt work permits to prove that their work in Canada is temporary. This category is particularly well suited to owners of seasonal businesses. Entrepreneurs who have already applied for Canadian permanent residence may also qualify for LMIA-exempt work permits in this category. Again, entrepreneurs are only eligible for LMIA-exempt work permits to demonstrate that their work in Canada is temporary.
Intra-Company Transferees may be granted an LMIA exemption for a temporary transfer to Canada. Transferees must be considered executives, managers, or specialized knowledge workers and must work for a foreign company with a qualifying relationship to Canada.
Dependents Of Foreign Workers
Spouses and children of Foreign Workers holding a Canadian work permit for a skilled position do not require an LMIA. Please note that this does not apply to workers’ spouses on an International Exchange Program.
This includes researchers, guest lecturers, and visiting professors.
Provincial LMIA Exemptions
Workers nominated by a province for permanent residence and who have obtained a job offer in that province may be exempt from the need for an LMIA.
Reciprocal employment agreements allow foreign workers to employ in Canada when Canadians have similar joint work opportunities abroad.
Canada is a party to several international agreements that facilitate the entry of foreign workers. Admission of foreign workers under these agreements is considered of significant benefit to Canada and, as such, does not require an LMIA. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an example of this case.
International Exchange Programs
Canada is a participant in several programs for international youth exchange. Such programs include the International Experience Canada (IEC) Working Holiday Visa, Student Co-op programs, Young Professionals programs, and teacher exchange programs. These programs are exempt from the need for an LMIA.
Charitable and religious work
In the Canadian context, charity is defined as the relief of poverty, advancement of education, or specific other purposes that benefit the community. Accordingly, certain charitable workers do not require an LMIA to enter the Canadian labor market temporarily.
Being registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a charity is a strong indicator that an organization is charitable. However, foreign workers may work in Canada for an organization under this LMIA-exempt provision that is not registered with the CRA; the visa officer may request additional information from the employer in such an instance.
The government of Canada distinguishes a charitable worker, who needs a work permit, and a volunteer worker who is work-permit exempt. Volunteer work does not enter the labor market, and their presence in Canada is incidental to the primary purpose of the visit. On the other hand, a charitable worker usually takes a position involving an activity that meets the definition of work and may be compensated for their work in Canada. As a result, they need a work permit, though the LMIA process is not required.
Religious work normally entails a requirement for the foreign national to be part of, or share, the beliefs of the particular religious community where he or she intends to work or to have the ability to teach or share other religious beliefs, as required by the employer.
For this LMIA-exempt category, the primary duties of the foreign national should reflect a particular religious objective, for example, the provision of religious instruction or promotion of a particular religion or faith.
The work should involve advancing the spiritual teachings of religious faith, as well as maintaining the doctrines and spiritual observances on which those teachings are based.
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