The majority of foreign workers in Canada require a work permit; there are limited exceptions for special scenarios and types of work, usually situations where it would be impractical or impossible to go through the same process. For the rest, a work permit may either require an earlier step (Labour Market Impact Assessment, or LMIA) or not. This post will be a brief overview of the former.
The Temporary Foreign Worker program is designed to help employers with labour shortages in Canada that they cannot meet with recruitment from Canadian citizens (or permanent residents). To verify that this is the case, the employer must provide details of the position and the person/people being hired to a government agency (Employment and Social Development Canada).
ESDL will evaluate the position based on the provided details, to determine whether the effects of hiring them will have a positive, neutral, or negative effect on the Canadian labour market. In other words, they check if the hiring is truly necessary, or whether a Canadian or permanent resident could have filled the same role instead.
The types of applications are divided by whether the wage is at or above the median wage in the province/territory (high-wage stream), or below (low-wage stream). There are also separate categories, for agricultural workers, caregivers, or specialists with high skills in a particular industry.
Regardless of the subcategory, an employer needs to be verified as legitimate Canadian businesses, if making their first application. Regular LMIAs afterwards can then skip this step.
A major part of an LMIA application is the advertising requirements; employers must show they advertised the position in various locations with no success in finding a good candidate before they resorted to offering the job to a foreign worker. The application must also list details of the job offer, including wage/salary, benefits, specific duties, required skills/education, etc.
After ESDC receive an LMIA application, they will evaluate the work based on all these factors and the current status of the job market for the position, at which point they will issue either a positive or negative assessment (or neutral). A positive or neutral assessment allows the applicant to apply for a work permit (within a set amount of time).
With the work permit application, the LMIA number must be included, along with the details of the job offer/contract. Although LMIAs are usually valid for 1-2 years, it is always best to make sure the work permit is as strong as possible, to avoid wasting time and expense.
Due to the advertising requirement, LMIA processing times, and work permit processing times, it is not necessarily the fastest (or cheapest) way for someone to begin working in Canada. The next post will detail the various LMIA exemptions in more detail.
This blog details the many legal issues among Luka's practice areas, for a general audience. None of this information is a substitute for legal advice.