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Hiring foreign workers in Canada that require an LMIA: Guidance and FAQ's

10-minute guidance for Canadian employers looking to hire temporary or permanent foreign skilled workers requiring an LMIA  

To alleviate local labour shortages in various occupations and regions of Canada and support Canadian businesses, Service Canada offers Canadian employers the ability to hire foreign workers, when there is enough data to indicate that there are no Canadians/Permanent Residents available for the job or position offered by the Canadian employer. 

The process in which Canadian employers undertake to ensure there are no Canadians/Permanent Residents available requires an LMIA application, a Labour Market Impact Assessment, to Service Canada. It sounds complicated, however partners with SJP Immigration Inc. have the combined experience having achieved positive LMIA’s for dozens of Canadian employers across various industries when they are suffering from a lack of talent and skilled labour shortages. 

If you are a Canadian employer facing labour shortages, and seek to hire a foreign national or several, SJP Immigration Inc. and our partners can facilitate the entire process for you. 

There are two high level pathways for Canadian employers to hire foreign workers in Canada: 

  1. LMIA Exempt – International Mobility Program (Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada) 2
  2. LMIA Required – Permanent/Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Service Canada) 

This guidance focuses on the aspects of the LMIA needed, temporary or permanent foreign worker program. There are limited options and a limited scope of the International Mobility Program when suffering from labour shortages and is not elaborated on in this guide. The International Mobility Program encompasses a variety of workers but is usually quite specific such as a temporary intra-company transfer, a USMCA investor, or even a startup visa entrepreneurial applicant. 

The Temporary or Permanent Foreign Worker Program is administered by Service Canada/Employment and Social Development Canada (EDSC). 

The Process 

We handle all aspects from engagement to work permit approval in the interest of the employer and the foreign applicant. We pre-screen candidates for eligibility and allow only the top candidates to set up interviews with you as the employer. We need less than 1 hour of your time for the entire process due to some minor paperwork completion and sourcing of supporting documents for the application to Service Canada (ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada)). You can leave the rest to us and focus on your business which you do best. 

1) Canadian employer onboards with SJP Immigration Inc. 

  • A short video consultation to understand your hiring needs and the positions you need to be filled.  

2) Start the LMIA application process 

  • SJP Immigration Inc. will begin the advertising/recruitment process needed to secure a positive LMIA. 
  • If Canadian employer already has a(n) eligible applicant(s), we can proceed to step 3 at this point. 
  • SJP Immigration Inc. will provide Canadian employer with pre-qualified, reference checked, occupation specific, immigration-ready foreign workers to arrange interviews between applicants and the employer 
  • Once applicant is selected, SJP Immigration can proceed to the LMIA submission stage 

3) SJP Immigration submits LMIA application to Service Canada 

  • SJP Immigration performs the required steps and prepares the necessary paperwork and supporting documentation on behalf of the employer to secure a positive LMIA result for the Canadian employer 

4) SJP Immigration applies for a work permit 

  • Once the LMIA is approved, a work permit application for the temporary foreign worker can be submitted to Immigration Canada, and SJP Immigration will work directly with the foreign worker to submit a successful work permit application. 

5) Continued Client Support 

  • SJP Immigration continues to support our employer network over the course of the employment of the foreign national should that mean updated job offers, wage rate changes, or liaising with Service Canada (ESDC) on request. We focus tirelessly to keep our Canadian employers and immigration clients satisfied with our service standards. 

Why is an LMIA Required? 

An LMIA stands for Labour Market Impact Assessment, and it must be confirmed before the foreign worker is able to apply for a work permit, that the hiring of this foreign worker will not negatively affect the Canadian labour market by occupying a job and/or opportunity that a Canadian/Permanent Resident would otherwise accept. This is done to protect Canadian interests. The LMIA application is a review of an employer’s submission to hire a foreign worker performed by Service Canada to ensure that the employer looking to hire a foreign worker has made a genuine job offer and that the employment of the foreign worker will not negatively affect the Canadian labour market. 

Immigration Canada has delegated evaluation of the legitimacy of the Canadian employer and the labour market conditions to Service Canada (ESDC). This is so that IRCC (Immigration Canada) can focus on the applicant in relation to immigration concerns (security and other factors). The Canadian employer requires an LMIA to substantiate that the job offer from the employer is real and that hiring the foreign worker will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labour market. It is to protect Canadian jobs and to ensure that Canadians/PRs can fill vacant positions first. 

In plain English, the LMIA process is performed by Service Canada to ensure the job offer is genuine (the employer is not taking part in job fraud for immigration purposes) while ensuring that foreign workers are not “stealing jobs” from Canadians/PRs (assessment of the labour market factors). 

Advantages for Canadian employers to hire foreign workers 

International Skills: Unless you are born in Canada or are a naturalized citizen or permanent resident; it can be challenging to enter the Canadian labour market. Due to the high competition and aspirations for many to resettle to Canada as economic immigrants, the best and most competitive foreign workers arrive in Canada armed with international skills to the benefit of the Canadian labour market. Whether it is a chef who’s worked at a 5-star hotel in the UAE, a skilled roofer from Northern Europe, or a brilliant software developer from South India; only the best foreign workers from abroad make it to work in Canada. 

Low Turnover (Employer Commitment): Foreign workers are issued a location-specific, employer-specific, and occupation-specific work permit when obtained through an LMIA. Unlike Canadians or Permanent Residents who have mobility rights in the labour market, choice in occupation, location, and their employer; temporary foreign workers tend to remain loyal to their Canadian employer to support their Permanent Residence application as that is the basis of their admission to Canada. 

Access to a larger labour market: This is particularly beneficial for employers that are location-based in small rural communities. By using the foreign worker program correctly, employers can access a pool of skilled labour, more diverse and qualified than what is available locally and are willing to move on a moment's notice. 

Advantages for Canadians 

Skills Transfer: Foreign workers with diverse, international experience transfer their skills to their Canadian colleagues and coworkers. 

Job Creation: When a Canadian employer hires the right person for the job, their business can thrive and grow, meaning they can hire more with Canadians and Permanent Residents when new positions open. This is because Canadians/PRs enjoy the right to these positions first. When employers are unable to fill a required position, they may stagnate as a business, which is not good for the overall economy. 

Revitalization of Rural Areas: Foreign workers often are needed in communities that face labour shortages such as remote communities. This fights the “brain-drain” experienced in these geographic areas in Canada. 

The Canadian Economy: A significant allocation of Canada’s immigration policy and economic growth goals are dependent on the migration of economic immigrants to Canada. Until Canadians/PRs start having more children, economic immigrants are vital to the year over year growth in Canada’s GDP and improvement of our living standards annually. 

Advantages for Foreign Workers 

Work in Canada: The opportunity to work in a developed nation like Canada is a privilege and foreign workers are grateful to have the opportunity to work in one of the highest paying labour markets worldwide. 

Opportunity to Immigrate: By working in Canada, and obtaining Canadian work experience, foreign workers can more easily secure a pathway to permanent residence in Canada. Typically, this is through Express Entry – Canadian Experience Class, or a Provincial Nominee Program for workers. Over time, permanent residents, depending on their time spent in Canada, and other qualifications including language, may be able to transition to Canadian Citizens.  


Hiring Foreign Workers FAQs 

How much does the process cost for Canadian employers? 

Professional fees vary depending on the consultant and complexity of the LMIA application but a self-represented employer only incurs a cost of a government issued fee of $1000 CAD, that the employer must pay directly to Service Canada (ESDC). This fee is waived for a PR LMIA where the intention is only to support a worker for permanent residency through a job offer.

What are the different streams of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program? 

There are 7 different LMIA streams within the TFWP (Temporary Foreign Worker Program) and each has their own purpose: 

LMIA for High-Wage occupations: When a specialized foreign worker is needed for up to 2 years. Ie. A photonics specialist from Germany with 10 years' experience in femtosecond lasers is needed in Canada by a laser manufacturer. 

LMIA Low-Wage occupations: Gas station attendants and cashiers are needed for a roadside truck stop in Fort Nelson, BC. 

LMIA for Agricultural Workers: Useful for agricultural operations securing Canada’s food supply that require year-round labour. 

LMIA for Seasonal Agricultural Workers: A curated pathway for temporary workers who work only during the growing/harvest season, a limited list of countries from the Americas. 

LMIA for Dual-Intent (Express Entry): Also known as PR LMIA. When a Canadian employer wishes to hire a foreign worker at equal to or above the median wage for their occupation and wants to sponsor them for an Express Entry application for Permanent Residence. 

LMIA for Global Talent Stream: Referred to as GTS, a stream encompassing tech-focused occupations such as a software developers and IT specialists allows for 2-week LMIA processing and 2-week Work Permit processing for eligible Canadian employers. 

LMIA for In-home caregivers: For Canadians that require a live in caregiver, there is a pathway to sponsor a foreign caregiver/nannie with an LMIA. 

Do I need to provide them with living accommodation? 

You do not need to provide foreign workers with accommodation unless you specify it as a benefit in your LMIA application and is a condition on your offer of employment. 

What is the difference between the Temporary and Permanent Foreign Worker Program? 

They refer to the same thing in the context of the Canadian employer. The Permanent Foreign Worker Program is just a better term to refer to foreign workers who eventually seek permanent residence in Canada, however, not all LMIA’s can lead to permanent residence for any given foreign worker. 

Can I pay foreign workers less than Canadians/PRs? 

No. Foreign workers, except for employer mobility, occupation mobility, and location mobility, have the same rights as Canadian/PR workers. 

I am struggling to find Canadian workers; can I hire a foreign worker? 

In most cases, so long as you are offering a genuine job and through the aid of SJP Immigration can substantiate you’ve adequately tried to recruit Canadians/PRs; you can hire a foreign worker. 

How much does it cost to hire a foreign worker? 

There is a $1000 application fee for an LMIA, except for a Dual-Intent LMIA that has no fee when being used for support in Express Entry only and not for a work permit. 

Am I allowed to lay off my foreign worker? 

Yes. As with any Canadian or Permanent Resident worker, you can lay off employees due to a lack of work. 

What if I want to terminate my foreign worker? 

As with any Canadian or Permanent Resident, you may terminate their employment following Provincial labour laws. 

Can my foreign worker leave? 

Your foreign worker can only leave if they obtain an LMIA from another employer, in the same occupation, and apply for a change of status through Immigration Canada to switch their work permit conditions. 

How can I get started hiring a foreign worker? 

Complete our Employer request form. 

Do I need to pay for their transportation? 

No, unless specified in their offer of employment or in some streams/circumstances. 

Do I need to supply medical insurance for a foreign worker? 

In the case where the applicant is coming from overseas it may take time for them to acquire provincial healthcare coverage which they are eligible for after issuance of their work permit. It is advised that foreign workers are recommended to procure temporary medical insurance through their Canadian employer prior to arriving. SJP Immigration ensures this is not overlooked. 

What is a NOC code? 

A NOC code is a National Occupation Classification developed by Service Canada (ESDC) to classify occupations based on certain job titles, job duties, educational requirements, and experience requirements. It is critical to Service Canada (ESDC) that the Canadian employer has a reasonable employment need for certain occupations and that the foreign worker has the experience and profile to match the position when applying for a Work Permit with IRCC. SJP Immigration is well trained on NOC 2016 and the upcoming TEER system to appropriately identify the exact occupation code (NOC) for which a Canadian employer is seeking and matching the overseas candidates that have the experience and profile to ensure that the work permit application is successful on eligibility requirements with Immigration Canada. 

Am I responsible for the actions of the foreign worker while they are in Canada? 

No. They are admitted to Canada through a vetting process by Immigration Canada (IRCC). You have as much responsibility for a foreign worker and their actions as you would with a Canadian or permanent resident worker. 

Are there some industries that are restricted for Temporary Foreign Workers? 

Sometimes for industries in which there is a surplus of unemployed Canadians and permanent residents, Service Canada (ESDC) will issue a refusal to process. Also, for positions within the government about national security, there may be limitations imposed for security clearances.