Can I Work in Canada Without an LMIA?

A Labour Market Impact Assessment, or LMIA, is a document that a Canadian employer may need to get before hiring a foreign worker. At the same time, the foreign worker needs a copy of the LMIA document, an LMIA number, a job offer letter, and a contract to apply for a work permit in Canada. This process not only ensures that Canadians are given first preference for jobs but it also monitors that foreign nationals are offered fair wages and work conditions for LMIA jobs in Canada.

The good news is that under the International Mobility Program there are various types of foreign workers who don't need an LMIA to work in Canada. These workers are usually employed in high-priority occupations and are therefore exempt from an LMIA. Foreign nationals in specific situations may also be exempt from obtaining an LMIA document, such as spouses of skilled foreign workers.

Keep reading to find out if you need an LMIA to start working in Canada and if you do - find out how to apply for one!

Can I Work in Canada Without an LMIA?


1. Agriculture and Food Processing Workers

As of April 2020, Canada has expedited the process for employers to hire foreign workers in specific agriculture and food processing occupations by removing the LMIA step completely. These LMIA jobs in Canada are critical and essential to Canada and in-demand across the country.

LMIA-Exempt Jobs
Butchers, meat cutters, and fishmongers-retail and wholesale
Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors, and specialized livestock workers
General Farm Workers
Nursery and Greenhouse Workers
Harvesting laborers
Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers, and related workers
Fish and seafood plant workers
Laborers in food, beverage, and associated products processing
Laborers in fish and seafood processing

2. Workers From Countries With International Agreements

International agreements such as the Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) allows eligible workers, traders, and investors to come to Canada without going through the LMIA process. These agreements guide cooperative activities such as permitting companies with a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate in Canada to transfer workers.

International Agreements
Airline personnel
Intra-company transferee
Independent professional
Youth exchange program (International Experience Canada (IEC))

3. Canadian Interests


Foreign workers can work in Canada without an LMIA if they fall under the Canadian Interests category. These workers provide a significant benefit to Canada or find themselves in unique work situations, such as film production workers who need to work in Canada for a short period to shoot a film.

Canadian Interests
Interns with international organizations recognized under the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Rail grinder operators, rail welders, or other specialized track maintenance workers
Foreign physicians coming to work in Quebec
Foreign camp owner or director, and outfitter
Emergency repair or repair personnel for out-of-warranty equipment
Foreign freelance race jockeys
Television and film production workers
Skilled Francophone workers
Live-in caregivers whose permanent residence application is submitted (now closed)
Religious work

4. Immigration Pilots

Two of Canada’s amazing immigration pilots are LMIA-exempt.

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot is managed by Canada’s four maritime provinces; Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. You can immigrate to Canada and settle in one of these beautiful seaside provinces through the Pilot by obtaining a job offer from one of the participating employers in the provinces without needing an LMIA document.

Foreign national caregivers can apply to immigrate to Canada through the Home Child Care Provider Pilot or the Home Support Worker Pilot. When caregivers submit their applications for permanent residency they will be issued open work permits instead of employer-specific work permits. This allows them the freedom to work for any employer in Canada and to fulfill their work hour requirements for permanent residency.

Immigration Pilots
Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program
Home Child Care Provider Pilot & Home Support Worker Pilot

5. Specific Visa Holders

Students graduating

The spouses and common-law partners of certain visa holders or immigration applicants may work in Canada without an LMIA document. For example, the significant other of an international student in Canada with a valid study permit can find a job in Canada without the need for an LMIA. On top of that, students who graduate in Canada may apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit and work for any employer.

Specific Visa Holders
Spouses of skilled workers
Spouses of students
Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) holders
Post-doctoral Ph.D. fellows and award recipients
Students seeking off-campus employment

How Do I Get an LMIA to Work in Canada?

Man looking for a job online

Unfortunately, not everyone can work in Canada without an LMIA. If you have a job offer in Canada and want to get a work permit but don’t fall under the LMIA-exempt categories then your employer needs to take the LMIA-route.

Before you submit your application for a work permit, your employer who wants to hire you must complete the steps below and give you either a copy of a Labour Market Impact Assessment or an offer of employment number to include in your application.

To apply for an employer-specific work permit you will need:

  • A valid job offer letter;
  • A contract that states the duration and location of the job;
  • A copy of the LMIA document; or
  • The LMIA number.

How Do I Get an LMIA to Hire a Foreign Worker?

Friendly business-woman welcoming new employee

How can a Canadian employer hire workers from overseas? The process is a little more tricky with many steps involved. For an in-depth explanation, read our Easy LMIA Guide: How to Get a Labour Market Impact Assessment. The first thing to keep in mind is that there are two ways to go about the process:

Hire Temporary Foreign Workers

Employers can hire temporary foreign workers to fill urgent job positions with proven skills shortages through various Temporary Foreign Workers Programs (TFWP) such as the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) or the Global Talent Stream.

Support Permanent Resident Applicants

On the other hand, employers can support a foreign national’s permanent residency application through immigration programs such as the Express Entry System.

3 Steps to Apply for an LMIA

Step 1: Proof of Effort

Before applying for an LMIA, the employer must prove that the job position was advertised for at least 4 weeks on different job platforms which serve as proof that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is ready, willing, and able to fill a specific position in Canada, and so the employer is allowed to hire a foreign worker.

Step 2: Choose a Program

The employer must choose a suitable foreign worker program that meets the criteria of the job position they are hiring for. The TFWP is divided into streams for Higher-skilled workers and Lower-skilled workers. It’s important to apply to the correct program otherwise the application will be rejected and the employer will forfeit the $1, 000 LMIA application fee.

Step 3: Apply to the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)

Lastly, employers who want to hire a foreign worker must submit the Labour Market Impact Assessment application along with all the required supporting documentation to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

Get Professional Assistance During Your LMIA-Process

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Whether you are an employer in Canada or a worker with a job offer, you can speak to our experienced professionals to make the entire process simpler. In fact, all you have to do is complete our online eligibility assessment and we’ll take care of the rest.

  • Guidance on the best program for your needs (employer or foreign worker)
  • Document preparation including assistance with an employer transition plan
  • Application optimization and submission
  • Tailored guidance & advice every step of the way
  • We take care of the fine print and make your recruitment process as smooth and as possible. All you have to do is complete our application form to receive your eligibility assessment today. It's just that simple.