Employer Guide to LMIA in Canada

Canada is a favoured destination for employment opportunities due to increasing salaries and specialized sectors that depend on temporary foreign workers. In Canada, a work permit (or in some cases authority to work without a permit) is required in order for a foreign national to be allowed to work in Canada. Specifically, we will be looking at the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and what is involved for the employer to obtain what’s called a labour market impact assessment (LMIA). 

Are you an employer in Canada having trouble finding Canadians for a job position? Are you looking for an employee with specialized skills and knowledge? If so, you may need to understand the requirements to hire a foreign worker. This article will provide you with some valuable tips and information before proceeding with the LMIA process.

What is a LMIA?

The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document that an employer in Canada may be required to get before hiring a foreign worker. This document is reassurance that a verification process by ESDC/Service Canada has taken place to make sure there is a genuine need for a foreign worker to fill a job position and that no Canadians are able to fulfill the job requirements. 

You as the employer will be required to provide a variety of information about your company, the job position and proof of recruitment efforts to hire Canadians (if applicable) with your LMIA application.

Applying for an LMIA involves various steps. Different types of job positions may require a unique set of documentation, program requirements and recruitment standards. Jobs are classified as either high wage or low wage depending on the provincial median hourly salary as set out on ESDC’s website. Furthermore, some LMIA’s are specific when dealing with seasonal agricultural workers.

Below are some helpful pointers and tips before proceeding with your application.

There must be a genuine need for an overseas worker

Before applying for an LMIA, you as the employer must evaluate the genuine need to hire a foreign worker (ie. genuine labour shortage, lack of qualified people for specialized skills). Many times, it helps to assess the skill level of the job and whether or not specialized knowledge or the ability to speak foreign languages may be a critical aspect for the job. It also helps if you previously tried your own advertising to seek out Canadians – with no success.

Tip: Check out the details of the job lead statement and duties from the National Occupational System (NOC) which is used to classify jobs based on their main duties and requirements needed for each job. Depending on the province, NOC code and unemployment rate – not all job positions qualify for an LMIA. 

Make sure you meet minimum advertising requirements

While hiring foreign workers for your company, you must take necessary steps and efforts to advertise the job in search of Canadians prior to filing your application. ESDC will assess your proof of recruitment efforts (for those jobs that are not recruitment exempt) and evaluate the reasons why Canadian candidates were not hired for the position. ESDC does specify the length of time for recruitment depending on the type of LMIA. Employers may be required to focus their ad efforts on groups of Canadians who are under-represented. In fact, a common reason for the rejection of an LMIA application is unsatisfactory recruitment efforts.

Tip: Recruitment efforts will differ depending on the type of LMIA you are applying for. 

Make sure that your foreign worker(s) can fulfill the job requirements

Before starting the LMIA process, you want to make sure that your foreign worker(s) have desirable skills, education and experience needed for the job position. In addition, foreign workers should meet all certification and licensing requirements which are applicable to regulated jobs in Canada.

Tip: Always ensure your foreign worker is admissible to Canada before starting the application process. If you are unsure what this means, seek a consultant or lawyer to assist you.

Make sure you as the employer prepare for an interview from ESDC/Service Canada

Service Canada officers will most likely call you for an interview before making a final decision. It is critical that you as the employer are fully prepared to take the call and have the details of your application available for review. Potential discrepancies from your answers and what is in the application may be cause for concern or worst case scenario lead to a refusal. 

Tip: Employers should review the responses in the LMIA application immediately after filing in expectation for a telephone interview.

Make sure you properly submit your application

Employers can submit the LMIA application by email to Service Canada. Depending on the type of LMIA, you must seek the proper email address available. There is also an (alternative) online portal available for employers to submit and track the progression of their application. Remember that attachments may require to meet a maximum MB size and so be careful to compress your application accordingly. 

Tip: Refer to ESDC’s website for the specific email address or online portal where an employer can properly submit their LMIA. Take note of maximum file size for any attachments!

Make sure to keep your LMIA application on record

You as the employer will need to maintain employment records on your foreign worker for at least 6 years after approval of the LMIA. Simply put – keep all records in safekeeping at all times.