Easy LMIA Guide: How to Get a Labour Market Impact Assessment

Each year more than 400, 000 work permits are granted to foreign nationals to work in Canada. In 2019, the majority (75%) of these permits did not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). However, if you do need one to apply for a Canadian work permit then you can only obtain the document from an employer in Canada who wishes to hire you. For this reason, the process of applying for an LMIA lies entirely in the hands of Canadian job providers.

The bad news is that the LMIA application process is by no means easy or straightforward. It’s very detailed and requires lots of documentation and recorded data. The good news is that our complete LMIA-Guide is packed with handy information that employers and foreign workers alike need to know about applying for work permits and how to go about acquiring an LMIA in Canada! 

Want to know something specific? Try our fast navigation:

What Is an LMIA?

Professional woman looking at a file

A positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document issued to Canadian employers who have demonstrated a real need to hire foreign workers because there are no Canadian citizens or permanent residents available or willing to fill a job position advertised by their company or business.

Essentially, an LMIA is a permission from Canadian authorities to hire a foreign worker. 

An employer in Canada with an LMIA document can hire a relevant foreign worker by providing them with a copy of the LMIA confirmation document in order to apply for a work permit.


The entire LMIA-process is overseen by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to ensure that the right course of action is followed by employers in Canada. ESDC takes both Canadian and non-Canadians’ interests into account.

For example, ESDC assesses if the employer offers fair wages for the job position. 

How to Get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?

Need professional assistance to apply for your LMIA? Hire the services of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) for your business.

Employers in Canada

Do you want to hire a foreign worker? If you can't hire a foreign worker through the International Mobility Program (see below), then you will have to take the LMIA route. The first step in the process requires job providers in Canada to try and find a Canadian or permanent resident to fill the job position by advertising the job on various platforms and for a predetermined time discussed in detail below.

If the employer is not successful they can apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment in order to hire a foreign worker through one of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) streams or alternatively, they can choose to support a candidate's permanent residency application and hire a full-time worker from overseas. 

The TFWP stream you apply through depends on the type of worker that you want to hire and how much you are looking to pay them. There are certain ineligible occupations that employers may not get an LMIA for. The LMIA application requirements vary depending on the type of stream you’re hiring through. Each stream has a different set of requirements and documents needed to submit a complete application.

Once you have submitted your application and receive a positive LMIA from the ESDC then you may send a copy of the LMIA document to the temporary foreign worker you wish to employ so that they may apply for a Canada work permit. If you chose to support a permanent resident application then you may send the candidate a valid job offer letter to include in their application.

Working in Canada

Do you want to work in Canada? If you can’t obtain a work permit through the International Mobility Program (see below) then you may have to take the LMIA route to Canada. This means that you need to secure employment in Canada from a job provider who has a positive LMIA document. A copy of the LMIA document enables you to apply for a Canadian work permit to legally work in the country. Alternatively, you can apply for permanent residency through one of the 100 immigration and visa programs available. Employers in Canada can increase your chances of success by providing you with a valid job offer. 

Discover your visa and immigration options with our comprehensive eligibility assessment today.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)


The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is designed for employers in Canada who want to fill temporary labor shortages. The TFWP is divided into streams for High-wage workers and Low-wage workers. In addition, there are specialized streams for employers that need to hire workers in specific areas of employment. These include:

  • Seasonal Agriculture Stream
  • Agriculture Stream
  • Global Talent Stream

Important Note

If an employer is hiring a temporary foreign worker to be paid at or above the median hourly wage for their province or territory then they must apply through the high-wage workers stream for LMIAs. If an employer is hiring a temporary foreign worker to be paid below the median hourly wage then they must apply through the low-wage worker's stream, low-wage positions will require the employer to meet additional criteria. 

Consult the table below to find out for which stream you qualify.

Median Hourly Wage by Province or Territory

Median Hourly Wage by Province or Territory
Province/Territory2018 wage
Median hourly wages prior to May 11, 2020
2019 wage
Median hourly wages as of May 11, 2020
British Columbia$23.98$25.00
New Brunswick$20.00$20.12
Newfoundland and Labrador$26.67$27.28
Northwest Territories$34.00$34.36
Nova Scotia$20.00$20.00
Prince Edward Island$19.49$20.00

Temporary Foreign Worker Programs

High Wage Workers

Employers who plan to pay the foreign worker at or above the median hourly wage of their province or territory must apply through the TFWP stream for high-wage workers.

Low Wage Workers

Employers who plan to pay a foreign worker less than the median hourly wage of their province or territory must apply through the TFWP stream for low-wage workers. 

Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)

Agriculture employers in Canada that produce national commodities (see list below) can hire foreign agri-workers through the SAWP during peak farming periods for a maximum period of 8-months.

The SAWP applies only to foreign workers who are citizens from:

  • Mexico
  • Caribbean countries of:
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Barbados
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • Montserrat
  • St. Kitts-Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago

The SAWP operates according to bilateral agreements between Canada and the participating countries. The benefit of such an agreement for employers includes hiring qualified workers with experience who can meet the requirements of working in Canada. 

National Commodities
apiary products
fruits, vegetables (including canning/processing of these products is grown on the farm)
nursery-grown trees including Christmas trees, greenhouses/nurseries
pedigreed canola seed

Agricultural Stream

Agriculture employers that produce national commodities can hire foreign agri-workers during non-seasonal periods for a maximum period of 24-months through the Agriculture Stream.

Global Talent Stream

Employers can fill jobs in Canada by hiring highly-skilled foreign workers through the Global Talent Stream. The stream allows skilled foreign workers on the Global Talent Occupations List to obtain work permits in as little as 2-weeks.

LMIA Requirements

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) has five popular streams, each with its own set of requirements. Click on the relevant program below to learn more about the process. 

Hire a Permanent Foreign Worker

Construction worker with his helmet

Employers can support a foreigner’s permanent residency application with a valid job offer. In most cases, this is an easier route to take because most immigration programs are LMIA-exempt and the LMIA application fee does not apply when hiring a permanent foreign worker. The most popular immigration program is the Express Entry system. 

Express Entry Immigration System

Employers can hire skilled foreign workers or tradespeople through the Express Entry immigration system when they can’t find Canadians or permanent residents to fill jobs. Employers that are not exempt from an LMIA must follow the normal procedures and requirements of acquiring an LMIA document. Thereafter, employers can make a valid job offer and give the candidate the LMIA number to support their permanent residency application in the Express Entry pool.

Good to know

  • Have a foreign worker in mind? Employers can always ask a foreign worker to create an Express Entry profile.
  • For a job offer to be valid under Express Entry, it must be for full-time and non-seasonal work of at least 1-year. The job offer must be in writing and include details such as salary, job duties, and hours of work.
  • If employers need a worker to start before the permanent residency visa is processed, they can apply for a “dual intent” LMIA. In this case, employers would need to pay the LMIA fee.

LMIA Exempt Jobs in Canada

Student with backpack

It’s quite possible that foreign workers can bypass the LMIA process by getting a work permit under one of the International Mobility Program streams. For workers and employers alike, it is preferable to get a work permit under the International Mobility Program, as these work permits do not require the worker to obtain an LMIA. 

International Mobility Program (IMP)

Hiring foreign workers under the International Mobility Program (IMP) is a much simpler and quicker process. Employers must submit an employment offer through the Employer Portal and pay the $230 compliance fee. Afterward, the employer will get an offer of employment numbers. This number is then given to the foreign worker to apply for a work permit. Many IMP streams have a two-week work permit processing standard. 

The IMP serves Canada’s broader cultural and economic interests through the following LMIA-exemption codes:

International Mobility Program streams
R204: International agreements
R205: Canadian interests
R206: No other means of support
R207: Permanent residence applicants in Canada
R207.1: Vulnerable workers
R208: Humanitarian reasons
As of April 2020 - Agriculture and food processing workers

Learn more about the International Mobility Program streams and LMIA-exempt jobs in Canada here

How to Apply for a Work Permit in Canada?

Woman sitting at desk_banner _image_how_to_apply_for_a_work_permit

There are two types of work permits in Canada; open work permits and employer-specific work permits. Open work permits are mainly issued under the International Mobility Program (IMP) and employer-specific work permits are issued under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

When you are applying for an employer-specific work permit, you will need to attach a copy of your LMIA with your employment contract or job offer letter to your application and pay the processing fee of $155. Your spouse or common-law partner and dependent children may also apply for their work permits and student permits at the same time. 

Your work permit will include the following conditions:

  • the type of employment;
  • the employer you can work for;
  • where you can work;
  • how long you can continue to work; and
  • the times or periods of work.

How to Get Your Work Permit in Two Weeks?

Typically, work permits can take up to 12-18 weeks to process depending on where you’re applying. However, if you qualify under the Global Talent Stream of the TFWP you could work in Canada in as little as 2-weeks! 


LMIA Frequently asked questions

1. How Long Is a Canadian Work Permit Valid For?

There is no set maximum amount of time that a foreign national can work in Canada. The validity of a work permit depends on predetermined conditions during the application process such as:

  • The job offer from their employer i.e employment contract
  • The length of time listed on their Labour Market Impact Assessment (if applicable)
  • The validity of their passport

2. How Long Is LMIA Processing Times?

LMIA processing times can be somewhat unpredictable, ranging from a couple of weeks to a few months. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has pledged to process certain LMIA applications within 10 business days. The following categories will now be processed within 10 business days:

  • All LMIA applications for the highest-demand occupations (food processing workers), or
  • Highest-paid (top 10%) occupations, or
  • Short-duration work periods (120 days or less).

3. How Much Does an LMIA Cost?

A processing fee of CAD $1,000 applies to each Labour Market Impact Assessment application (unless the application is made strictly in support of permanent residency). 

4. When Must You Extend Your Canada Work Permit?

The temporary worker must apply to extend or change the conditions of their work permit at least 30 days before the expiry date if they want to:

  • extend their employment beyond the expiry date of the work permit
  • change their occupation or wages substantially
  • work in Canada for a different employer

5. Do You Need a New LMIA to Extend Your Work Permit?

Yes, your employer needs to apply for a new LMIA from Employment and Social Development Canada or submit a new offer of employment if you don’t need an LMIA. 

How We Can Help You Get an LMIA


Applying for a Labour Market Impact Assessment or work permit can be time-consuming and difficult to wrap your head around. With strict procedures and requirements, it can be easy to make a mistake that could cost you lots of money and your chance to work in Canada or hire a foreign worker. But with the guidance and assistance of one of our knowledgeable Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC’s). the process will be easy and stress-free.    

When you choose to use our expert and government trusted service you will get:

  • An in-depth eligibility assessment
  • Guidance on which TFWP or immigration program to hire through;
  • A review and submission of all application forms and documentation; as well as
  • Support through every step of the application process.

Take the first step towards a better life - Apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) with our help. All you have to do is fill out our application form to start the process with certified professionals today. 

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