In order to bring a temporary foreign worker to Canada, a Canadian employer must generally receive a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). There are several cases, however, where the need for a LMIA may be waived.
Some of the most common LMIA-exempt streams are outlined below.
Canada is a party to a number of 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 a LMIA. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an example of this case.
A LMIA exemption may be granted to private entrepreneurs who wish to come to Canada temporarily in order to start or operate a business. Applicants to one of these programs must be the sole or majority owners of the business they wish to pursue in Canada. They will also have to demonstrate that their business will be of significant benefit to Canada. Entrepreneurs are only eligible for LMIA-exempt work permits if they can demonstrate that their work in Canada is temporary in nature. 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. Entrepreneurs are only eligible for LMIA-exempt work permits if they can demonstrate that their work in Canada is temporary in nature.
Intra-Company Transferees may be granted a 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 the company in Canada.
International Exchange Programs
Canada is a participant in a number of 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 a LMIA.
Dependents of Foreign Workers
Spouses and children of Foreign Workers holding a Canadian work permit for a skilled position do not require a LMIA. Please note that this does not apply to the spouses of workers on an International Exchange Program.
French-Speaking Skilled Workers
Foreign nationals who have been recruited through a francophone immigration promotional event coordinated between the federal government and Francophone minority communities, and who are destined for a province or territory outside of Quebec and qualified under a National Occupational Classification (NOC) 0, A or B, may be eligible to work in Canada through Mobilité Francophone.
The need for a LMIA for religious workers will vary depending on the kind of work to be done in Canada. A foreign national may work in Canada without a LMIA when the main duties are “spiritual”.
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 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.