If no other work permit provision applies, then an employer is required to obtain a positive LMIA to support the potential employee’s work permit application. LMIAs can also be used to support Permanent Residence applications.
The LMIA requires that the employer prove that they are unable to locate a local candidate who could be reasonably successful in carrying out the duties of the position in question.
The process requires that the employer post the position in three separate locations for a period of four continuous weeks (or 28 days). The requirements for the posting are very specific and the posting must remain active until the LMIA application has been approved.
Once the initial posting period is complete, the employer may make application including proof of its recruitment efforts, to Service Canada for authorization to hire a foreign national. The application must include a plan to transition the role to a local candidate, either through a formal transfer of skills or by supporting the selected foreign national in obtaining Permanent Residence.
Under this category, employers must undertake, and later prove if/when the employer is selected for a compliance review, that the employee is being paid the prevailing wage for the position and location in which the employee will work.
The LMIA process has several streams and exemption programs to facilitate employment sectors in need. These include:
Once the LMIA has been approved the employee will still need to apply for a work permit through Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Only after IRCC approves the application will the work permit be issued.
The employee’s family may accompany them to Canada as visitors. Spouses of individuals with LMIAs for managerial, professional, or skilled worker level positions may be eligible for open work permits upon request. Minor children of parents on a work permit may study in Canada on visitor status.
Work permits under this category are limited to the duration of the positive LMIA, which can be up to 3 years. In theory, the work permit is renewable, although it will require that a new LMIA, along with new recruitment for the position, be obtained. The new LMIA application will be assessed against the previously submitted transition plan.