A Guide to Canada's LMIA-Exempt Work Permits

Are you considering working in Canada? If so, understanding the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and its exemptions is crucial for a smooth employment journey. Whether you are a skilled worker, a recent graduate, or an individual with special circumstances, we provide the necessary information to navigate the Canadian job market effectively.

Gain a better read on how you can expedite the process of working in Canada by consulting our guide to Canada’s LMIA-exempt work permits!

What is a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?

what is a labor market impact assessment?

In Canada, a Labor Market Impact Assessment, or LMIA, is a document Canadian employers usually need to obtain before hiring foreign workers. The LMIA process enables the Canadian government to assess whether hiring a foreign worker will positively or negatively impact the country’s labor market.

However, certain work permits are exempt from the LMIA requirement, making it easier for employers and employees to navigate the process of fulfilling a job vacancy in Canada.

Learn more about Canada’s LMIA.

Canada’s International Mobility Program (IMP)

The International Mobility Program (IMP) is a program that allows certain foreign workers to obtain employer-specific work permits without the need for an LMIA. Under this program, foreign workers can work in Canada for a specified period, usually up to two years, and in certain cases, even longer.

The IMP covers a range of LMIA-exempt work permits, including those under international free trade agreements, intra-company transfers, and post-graduate work permits.

Find out more about the International Mobility Program.

International Free Trade Agreements With Canada

Canada has entered several free trade agreements with other countries. These agreements often include provisions for the movement of workers between the countries involved. Under these agreements, certain occupations are exempt from the LMIA requirement, making it easier for employers to hire foreign workers in those occupations.

Examples of free trade agreements that provide LMIA exemptions include the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Find out more about International Free Trade Agreements.

Canadian Social and Cultural Interests

Another category of LMIA-exempt work permits is those that are granted for reasons of Canadian social or cultural interests. These work permits are usually issued to individuals who will contribute to the social or cultural fabric of Canada, such as athletes, artists, and performers. These work permits aim to enhance Canada's cultural diversity and promote international understanding and cooperation.

Find out more about Circumstances of Social or Cultural Interest in Canada.

Intra-Company Transfers to Canada

Intra-company transfers are another category of work permits that are exempt from the LMIA requirement. These permits are granted to foreign workers who are being transferred to Canada by their current employer, who has a qualifying relationship with a Canadian company.

The purpose of these permits is to facilitate the transfer of key personnel within multinational companies, allowing them to work in Canada for a specified period.

Learn more about Intra-Company Transfers to Canada.

Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)

The Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) is a work permit that allows international students who have completed a program of study at a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI) to work in Canada for a specified period.

This work permit is exempt from the LMIA requirement, making it easier for international students to transition from studying to working in Canada. The length of the PGWP depends on the length of the program of study completed by the student.

The work experience gained via PGWP can enable you to apply for Canadian permanent residency (PR) using programs such as the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Find out more about Canada’s PGWP.

Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP)

The Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) is a work permit that allows certain individuals who are already in Canada on another type of work permit to continue working while they await a decision on their application for permanent residence.

This work permit is also exempt from the LMIA requirement, providing flexibility and peace of mind for individuals who are in the process of transitioning to permanent residency in Canada.

Learn more about the Bridging Open Work Permit.

Which Jobs in Canada Are Exempt from LMIA Requirements?

which jobs in canada are exempt from lmia requirements?

LMIA Exempt Jobs Under Public Policies in Canada

Under certain public policies, there are specific jobs that are exempt from the LMIA requirement. These policies are put in place to address specific labor market needs or to attract highly skilled workers to Canada.

Examples of LMIA-exempt jobs under public policies include jobs eligible for the Global Talent Stream (GTS) i.e. researchers and academics, and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) i.e. general farm laborers. These programs aim to streamline the process for employers to hire foreign workers in certain highly skilled or in-demand occupations in Canada.

LMIA Exempt Jobs Under International Agreements or Arrangements With Canada

As mentioned earlier, Canada has entered into several free trade agreements and other international arrangements that provide LMIA exemptions for certain occupations. These exemptions are put in place to facilitate the movement of workers between countries and to promote economic growth and cooperation.

Examples of LMIA-exempt jobs under international agreements include professional occupations under CUSMA and certain skilled trades under the CPTPP.

LMIA Exempt Jobs Under Canadian Interests

LMIA exemptions are also granted for jobs that are in the interest of Canada. These jobs are usually related to research, innovation, or other activities that contribute to the economic or social development of the country.

Examples of LMIA-exempt jobs under Canadian interests include research fellows, visiting professors, and certain healthcare professionals. These exemptions allow Canada to attract and retain top talent in these fields.

LMIA Exempt Jobs Under the Significant Benefit to Canada Category

The LMIA exemption for the significant benefit category is granted for jobs that have a significant social, cultural, or economic benefit to Canada. These jobs are assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration factors such as the nature of the job, the impact on the Canadian labor market, and the benefit to the community or society at large. Examples of jobs that may qualify for this exemption include those in the non-profit sector or those that contribute to community development.

LMIA Exempt Jobs for Individuals With No Other Means of Support in Canada

In certain cases, LMIA exemptions are granted to individuals who have no other means of support. This includes individuals who are seeking protection in Canada, such as refugees or asylum seekers, as well as individuals who are experiencing exceptional circumstances, such as domestic violence or human trafficking. These exemptions ensure that individuals who are in vulnerable situations have access to employment opportunities in Canada.

LMIA Exempt Jobs Under Humanitarian Reasons in Canada

LMIA exemptions are also available for individuals who are working in Canada for humanitarian reasons. This includes individuals who are working for charitable or religious organizations, as well as individuals who are providing essential services in times of crisis or disaster.

These exemptions allow Canada to respond quickly and effectively to humanitarian needs while also providing employment opportunities for those who are willing to help. Examples of jobs under this category include:

Find out more about jobs in Canada that don’t need an LMIA.

How Can I Apply For an LMIA-Exempt Work Permit?

Applying for an LMIA-exempt work permit in Canada primarily four steps, which include:

Step 1: Check Your Eligibility to Apply for an LMIA-exempt Work Permit,

As highlighted above, under certain LMIA-exempt job categories, you may be eligible to apply for an LMIA-exempt work permit.

Step 2: Gather your Required LMIA-exempt work permit Documentation,

Required documentation for an LMIA-exempt work permit can include your passport, travel documents i.e. electronic travel authorization (eTA), proof of job offer, etc.

Learn more about which documents you need with our compilation guide.

Step 3: Pay the Required Fees Apply for the LMIA-exempt Work Permit

Submitting your Canada LMIA-exempt application generally involves an application form, attaching all supporting documents, and paying a fee of 155 CAD.

Step 4: Await Your Decision.

While awaiting the decision for your LMIA-exempt work permit application, you can track your application status through the IRCC online system. You can learn more about application processing times below:

Find out more about how to get an LMIA-exempt work permit for Canada.



Are LMIA-Exempt Work Permits Permanent?

No, LMIA-exempt work permits are not permanent. Most LMIA-exempt work permits are issued for a specified period, usually up to two years. However, some work permits, such as those under the International Free Trade Agreements or the Intra-Company Transfers category, can be issued for longer periods.

Can I Apply for an LMIA-Exempt Work Permit if I am Self-Employed or an Entrepreneur?

LMIA exemptions are generally not available for individuals who are self-employed or entrepreneurs. Most LMIA exemptions require a job offer from a Canadian employer, and self-employment or entrepreneurship usually does not meet this requirement.

Are There Any LMIA Exemptions for Family Members of Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents?

Yes, there are certain LMIA exemptions available for family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents. These exemptions are designed to facilitate family reunification and allow family members to work in Canada without the need for an LMIA.

Examples of LMIA-exempt work permits for family members include the spouse or common-law partner work permit and the work permit for accompanying dependents of students or foreign workers.