LMIA Sorts in Canada for Employers and Staff

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Vivek owns a small however rising tech agency in Waterloo. Recently, he confronted a problem. A key place remained unfilled regardless of in depth native looking. No Canadian or permanent resident matched the skill set he needed. Thus, Vivek considered hiring from abroad. This prompted him to learn about alternative pathways for Canadian businesses to engage international talent, bypassing the traditional LMIA route. It became his gateway to solving the talent puzzle. However, he is unsure about the LMIA type he must pick.

Understanding Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA)

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is crucial for Canadian employers hiring foreign workers. It serves as evidence that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job and that no Canadian worker is available to do the job. Below, we break down the key components of LMIAs into detailed subsections.


The LMIA process ensures that the employment of foreign workers has a neutral or positive effect on the Canadian labour market. Employers must prove they have attempted but failed to find a Canadian or permanent resident for the job.

The LMIA Focus

An LMIA focuses only on the position and the employer. Consequently, a positive LMIA letter means the employer genuinely needs to fill the position. Moreover, they have failed to fill the position with Canadian citizens or permanent residents. LMIA does not focus on the employee. However, the employee must later apply for a work permit. IRCC or CBSA will assess such applications.


LMIAs are categorized into high-wage and low-wage positions, with specialized streams for other positions. Each category comes with its own set of requirements and conditions. The focus of this post is to introduce those types.

Application Process

To obtain an LMIA, employers must apply for Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). This application includes providing a detailed job description, proof of advertising efforts, and information about the wages and conditions of employment. They apply online. Subsequently, ESDC reviews the application, interviews the employer most of the time, and eventually decides whether to issue a positive LMIA letter.

Impact on Workers

For foreign workers, receiving a job offer supported by an LMIA is often a critical step towards temporarily working in Canada. This document can also be significant in permanent residency applications, particularly through programs like the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Fees and Timelines

The application fee is $1,000 per worker, with some exemptions (e.g., a pure PR LMIA). Processing times can vary depending on the LMIA type and current labour market needs.

Understanding the LMIA types is critical for employers and foreign workers looking to navigate Canada’s labour market complexities successfully. This assessment ensures that Canadian labour standards are upheld while addressing genuine labour shortages by including international talent.

LMIA Types or Streams

ESDC processes the applications under the following streams:

Of course, they may add or remove some of these streams in the future. Always consult with a professional to explore your options.

The Global Talent Stream LMIA

The Global Talent Stream (GTS) offers a faster route for Canadian employers to hire foreign talent in high-demand occupations or for workers with unique skills. This stream is part of Canada’s Global Skills Strategy, aiming to fuel growth by addressing immediate labour market needs.

What is this Stream About?

The GTS expedites the hiring process for skilled foreign workers. It targets two key categories: Category A, for employers supported by a designated partner, and Category B, for employers seeking talent in listed in-demand occupations. This stream helps fill positions quickly, keeping Canadian businesses competitive.

Recruitment Effort Requirements

Under the GTS, employers are exempt from recruitment efforts. Regardless, authorities highly encourage them to engage in recruitment efforts tailored to the stream’s expedited nature.

The Processing Fee

Employers applying through the GTS must pay a processing fee of $1,000 per position. This fee supports the fast-tracking of the LMIA process, ensuring applications receive a response within two weeks.

Special Considerations About this Stream

The GTS stands out for its commitment to benefits in the labour market. Employers must work with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to develop a Labour Market Benefits Plan. This plan outlines the employer’s commitment to activities that will have lasting positive impacts on the Canadian labour market, such as job creation, training investment, and knowledge transfer to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

By focusing on these areas, the GTS streamlines the path for Canadian businesses to access global talent while fostering job growth and skills development within Canada.

The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program LMIA

The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) is a critical component of Canada’s approach to addressing seasonal labour shortages in the agricultural sector. It allows Canadian farmers to hire foreign workers for seasonal agricultural work that Canadians and permanent residents cannot undertake.

What is this Stream About?

The SAWP targets specific agricultural sectors requiring seasonal workers to plant, care for, and harvest crops. This program facilitates the temporary entry of foreign workers from Mexico and certain Caribbean countries, ensuring a steady workforce for critical seasonal periods.

Recruitment Effort Requirements

The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) sets clear recruitment and ad rules for employers. They must first try hiring Canadians and permanent residents. Yet, there’s a break from January 12, 2022, to June 30, 2024. Employers won’t need to stick to the usual ad rules for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in primary agriculture. They still should look for local workers but don’t have to prove their ad efforts during this time.

The Processing Fee

Employers participating in the SAWP are exempt from the LMIA processing fee. This exemption supports the agricultural sector by reducing the financial burden on employers seeking to fill seasonal labour gaps.

Special Considerations About this Stream

Several key considerations make the SAWP unique. First, employers must provide workers with transportation, housing, and health insurance, ensuring their safety and well-being. Additionally, the program has established caps on the duration of employment, typically limited to a maximum of eight months between January 1 and December 15. This ensures that the program remains focused on seasonal needs.

The SAWP is an essential tool for Canadian agricultural employers. It allows them to maintain productivity by filling seasonal labour shortages with skilled international workers.

The Agricultural Stream LMIA

What is this Stream About?

The Agricultural Stream of the LMIA is designed for employers to hire temporary foreign workers (TFWs) for up to 24 months in specific agricultural sectors related to on-farm primary agriculture. This includes activities within farm, nursery, or greenhouse boundaries, such as operating agricultural machinery and working in animal husbandry​​​​.

The Recruitment Effort Requirements

Employers must attempt to hire Canadians and permanent residents before turning to TFWs. Although from January 12, 2022, to June 30, 2024, the minimum advertising requirements are suspended for primary agriculture LMIAs, employers should continue to make recruitment efforts without needing to meet the usual advertising criteria or submit proof with their LMIA applications​​.

The Processing Fee

Employers are mostly exempt from a processing fee​​ for the Agricultural Stream.

Special Considerations About this Stream

Several key factors set the Agricultural Stream apart:

This stream allows for a structured approach to addressing labour shortages in the agricultural sector, ensuring that temporary foreign workers are employed under fair and safe conditions. To explore these topics in more detail, book a consultation session.

The Express Entry (Permanent Residence) LMIA

What is this Stream About?

The Express Entry LMIA stream supports Canadian employers in hiring foreign skilled workers intending to become permanent residents. It targets high-skilled positions and requires job offers to align with specific economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class. This pathway emphasizes filling positions when no Canadians or permanent residents are available, aiming to help the Canadian economy by addressing skilled labour shortages​​​​.

The Recruitment Effort Requirements

Employers must demonstrate efforts to recruit Canadians and permanent residents before seeking a foreign skilled worker. This involves proving the need for a foreign worker to fill a high-skilled position that could not be filled domestically. The focus here is ensuring Canadian jobs are first offered to Canadians and permanent residents​​.

The Processing Fee

Interestingly, businesses are exempt from the standard processing fee of CAD 1,000 for LMIAs supporting permanent residency. This exemption encourages employers to help foreign workers transition to permanent residence, aligning with Canada’s goal to fill skilled labour shortages and promote economic growth​​. However, dual intent PR LMIAs are subject to the processing fee.

Special Considerations About this Stream

A few key points distinguish this stream:

Understanding these nuances is crucial for employers looking to support a foreign worker’s permanent residency through the Express Entry system. The stream offers a path to help fill skilled labour shortages while supporting workers’ goals to become permanent residents of Canada. For more detailed information, book a consultation session.

LMIA for Academics, Medical Doctors, Specialists, or Registered Nurses

What is this Stream About?

This stream helps Canadian degree-granting post-secondary institutions fill teaching and research positions by employing foreign academics when Canadians and permanent residents are unavailable. It applies to individuals with at least one postgraduate degree, mainly earned from teaching or research at universities and university colleges. Special criteria developed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) ensure the program considers Canadian academics’ career development and employment. However, some of these groups could apply under LMIA-exempt categories.

The Recruitment Effort Requirements

Institutions must advertise vacant positions in Canada and ensure any foreign advertisement occurs simultaneously within Canada. The advertising period should be reasonable, about a month, to expose the vacancy widely to Canadians and permanent residents. The advertisements should state that priority goes to Canadians and permanent residents, meet collective agreement conditions, and institutions must prepare a yearly summary report on their recruitment practices.

The Processing Fee

As of April 4, 2022, institutions may request employment durations of up to 3 years for high-wage positions aligning with reasonable employment needs. This includes various streams, such as the Global Talent Stream and Express Entry. The duration may be extended in exceptional cases, provided the employer offers a rationale. However, the option to increase the duration doesn’t apply to already issued positive LMIA decisions.

Special Considerations About this Stream

Several exemptions under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act allow universities and colleges to hire foreign academics without needing an ESDC labour market impact assessment or the foreign academic requiring a work permit. These include academic consultants and examiners, graduate assistants, self-funded researchers, post-doctoral fellows, research award recipients, eminent individuals, guest lecturers, visiting professors, and certain professionals under international agreements like CUSMA. The Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program also aims to attract leading academics to Canadian post-secondary institutions.

Employers must ensure compliance with Canadian labour laws, including paying prevailing wages, providing workplace safety insurance, and offering the same benefits as other workers. They must not exploit foreign workers and must adhere to labour and employment standards set by provincial/territorial legislation or the Canada Labour Code for federally regulated employers.

This stream significantly enhances Canadian academia by filling gaps in teaching and research positions with qualified foreign academics, fostering an environment of diverse knowledge and expertise on Canadian campuses.

High or Low-Wage Positions LMIA: A Comprehensive Guide

What is this Stream About?

The High- or Low-Wage Positions LMIA streams aim to address labour shortages by allowing Canadian employers to hire temporary foreign workers (TFWs). These two options are probably the most popular among non-agricultural employers. The wage offered determines the stream: high wage for wages at or above the provincial or territorial median and low wage for wages below it.

The Recruitment Effort Requirements

Employers must conduct thorough recruitment efforts before hiring TFWs. This includes advertising on the Government of Canada’s Job Bank and performing at least two other recruitment activities. For high-wage positions, one method must be national in scope​​​​.

The Processing Fee

Employers must pay a processing fee of $1,000 for each position requested in the LMIA application. This fee applies to both high- and low-wage positions​​.

Special Considerations About this Stream

The high- or low-wage LMIA streams are crucial components of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), designed to supplement the Canadian workforce temporarily when no Canadians or permanent residents are available to fill the positions. Employers must adhere to strict guidelines to ensure compliance and are encouraged to prioritize hiring domestic workers wherever possible.

In-Home Caregiver LMIA Explained

What is this Stream About?

The In-Home Caregiver LMIA allows families to hire foreign caregivers for children, seniors, or those with medical needs when no Canadians are available. However, IRCC currently refuses the subsequent work permit application for those employees who do not qualify for a work permit under R199. Consult with me for more information.

The Recruitment Effort Requirements

Employers must follow high or low-wage position recruitment guidelines, ensuring Canadians and permanent residents have job priority.

The Processing Fee

Employers pay a $1,000 fee per position. Exemptions exist for certain medical or childcare situations.

Special Considerations About this Stream

Key points include exemptions for specific caregiving scenarios, a focus on ensuring caregivers meet job requirements and promoting fair work conditions. Caregivers may also have pathways to permanent residency.

Let us help!

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Al ParsaiAl Parsai, LLM, MA, RCIC-IRB
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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