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Foreign workers that require the Canadian government’s labour market test, known as the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) fall under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). Conversely, foreign workers that do not require an LMIA fall under the International Mobility Program (IMP).
The purpose of the TFWP is to enable employers in Canada to hire foreign workers when there are no suitable workers in Canada to do the job. The purpose of the IMP is to promote Canada’s broad economic, social, and cultural interests. Since the IMP’s policy goals are broader, the Canadian government does not use the LMIA process on foreign nationals who fall under any of the IMP’s streams.
For some jobs, employers do not need to obtain a LMIA before hiring a foreign worker.
Some of the most common LMIA-exempt streams are outlined below.
This exemption can be applied if your employer is able to prove that you will bring an important social, cultural, or economic benefit to Canada. For example:
- Technical workers, creative and performing artists, self-employed engineers, etc.
- Intra-company transferees with specialized knowledge that will contribute to the Canadian economy through their specialized skills and experience
- Workers under Mobilité francophone
This exemption allows foreign workers the opportunity to work in Canada in specific industries where Canadians have similar opportunities in other countries. For example:
- Professional athletes and coaches working with Canadian teams
- Professors, guest lecturers, and students participating in exchange programs
Entrepreneurs & self-employed
Foreign nationals who want to work for themselves or operate their own business temporarily in Canada need to demonstrate that their business would generate significant economic, social, or cultural benefits for Canadian citizens or permanent residents to be granted a LMIA exemption.
International companies can temporarily transfer employees to a Canadian branch without requiring an LMIA.
French-speaking skilled workers
French-speaking skilled workers who have a valid job offer in a province or territory outside of Quebec may be exempt from needing an LMIA.
International trade agreements
Some international Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) contain provisions to make it easier for businesspeople to work temporarily in the signed countries. While foreign workers covered by an applicable FTA still usually need a closed work permit, they are exempt from the LMIA requirement. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are both examples.
International youth exchange programs
Canada also participates in some international youth exchange programs that allow young people to travel and work in Canada without requiring an LMIA. For example, the Young Professionals category of International Experience Canada for individuals with a job offer in Canada that contributes to their professional development.
- Partner countries:
- If you’re a citizen of a partner country, you may be able to apply to one or more of these 3 categories
- If you aren’ta citizen of a partner country, you may still be able to apply to IEC through a recognized organization
The IEC program is composed of three categories:
· don’t have a job offer
· want to work for more than one employer in Canada
· want to work in more than one location
· like to earn some money so that you can travel
· have a job offer in Canada that counts toward your professional development
· work for the same employer in the same location during your stay in Canada
International Co-op (Internship)
· you’re a student registered at a post-secondary institution
· you have a job offer for a work placement or internship in Canada
· you need to do this work placement or internship to complete your studies
· you’ll work for the same employer in the same location during your stay in Canada
Please note your spouses and dependents can’t come with you to Canada under the IEC program. However, they may apply to visit, study or work in Canada as a separate applicant.
Dependents Of Foreign Workers
Spouses and children of Foreign Workers holding a Canadian work permit for a skilled position do not require a LMIA when applying for an Open Work Permit (OWP). Please note that this does not apply to the spouses of workers on an International Exchange Program.
This exemption applies to specific situations and is at the discretion of the Minister of Immigration. For example:
- Academics, researchers, guest lecturers and visiting professors who are sponsored through a recognized federal program
- Medical residents and fellows, and people who have received academic awards through Canadian institutions
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 a LMIA.
Note: Being exempt from obtaining a LMIA does not mean the individual is exempt from obtaining a work permit. All streams on the LMIA exemption list still require the individual to obtain a work permit to work in Canada legally.