A Labour Market Impact Assessment, or LMIA, is the new, more rigorous version of the old Labour Market Opinion, or LMO, which it replaced in June, 2014. An LMIA assesses the impact that a foreign worker will have on the Canadian labour market, to ensure it does not negatively impact Canadian workers. It is issued by Employment and Social Development Canada, or ESDC (formerly HRSDC), a department of the Government of Canada responsible for developing, managing, and delivering social programs and services. As well, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, or TFWP, will now have more restricted access compared to past years and employers seeking an LMIA will now have to submit additional information on:
- The number of Canadians that applied for their available job. All job vacancies have to be advertised for at least 4 weeks before filing for an LMIA.
- The number of Canadians that the employer interviewed.
- The reasons why these Canadians were not hired.
If there are concerns that foreign workers may have a significant negative impact on the Canadian labour market, then ESDC will not process the application. Clearly this is a more restrictive policy, in part because of a somewhat slower economy and worries about job losses in general, and in part to address concerns Canadians may have over temporary foreign workers impacting the Canadian labour market.
How are Jobs Classified Now?
Clothing Factory by Conrad Poirier [Public Domain]
Another major change with the new LMIA’s is the classification of jobs. The previous system relied on the National Occupation Classification, or NOC, system to assess labour need in a region. The new system will instead classify jobs according to wages which are seen as a more objective way of ranking labour need and skill level. In general, the higher the wage, as well as the more specialized the job you are applying for as a foreign worker, the more likely your LMIA will be positive for jobs in large Canadian cities where there is more competition from Canadian workers. This is clearly shown by the capping of lower-wage jobs available under the TFWP. As well, the new categories under the TFWP are as follows:
- High-wage: Jobs with a wage above the median wage for any given province or territory. Examples are managerial, scientific, professional, and technical positions as well as skilled trades. For example, a research scientist employed by a pharmaceutical firm or a skilled welder employed in the energy industry.
- Low-wage: Jobs with a wage below the median wage for any given province or territory. Examples are general labourers, food counter attendants, and sales and service personnel.
- Primary Agricultural Stream: On-farm primary agricultural jobs, such as general farm workers, nursery and greenhouse workers, feedlot workers, and harvesting labourers. This last category includes labourers under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program which allows entry of foreign workers from Mexico and some Caribbean countries to help fill the seasonal needs of agricultural producers.
- Highest-Demand, Highest-Paid, or Shortest-Duration: This category is for in-demand occupations like some of the highly skilled trades or top 10% wage occupations, or jobs lasting 120 days or less. Entries are processed within 10 business days but LMIAs must still submit to the standard reviews.
- Live-in Caregiver Program: This class of worker is the same as under the old classification system. It enables foreign workers to enter Canada when Canadian workers are not available to provide unsupervised and full-time care for: children, seniors, and people with disabilities in the private residence of those whom they are hired to care for.
What Jobs are LMIA Exempt?
Seamstressses [Public Domain]
The third major change to the program, however, deals with exemptions for the LMIA, and here the government has created a new program called the International Mobility Program to group LMIA-exempt foreign workers under this program. Please note that on the ESDC webpage the government states that they are undertaking a comprehensive review of which streams will remain LMIA-exempt. Those that are deemed to not warrant an exemption will be reclassified under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and will no longer be LMIA-exempt. The government is also reviewing the International Experience Canada program, claiming it benefits foreign youth coming to Canada far more than Canadians going abroad under the various agreements Canada has with countries around the world. In other words, tighter quotas are on the way. As well, another exemption has been for foreign workers of multinational corporations who are transferred to the Canadian subsidiary of their company (it also includes Canadians sent abroad under the same guise) under NAFTA or GATT. It is being reviewed under suspicions that it has been exploited by multinationals. As a result a so-called Intra-company transferee with specialized knowledge will have their salary compared with the relevant Canadian wage to ensure that the foreign employee is truly specialized and not a cheaper-wage option used by the multinational corporation.
The following list groups workers that are classified under this new International Mobility Program, and are therefore LMIA-exempt. Remember that even if a job classifies as LMIA-exempt it still requires a work permit.
- Workers covered under international agreements like NAFTA and GATT. This can include professionals, traders and investors.
- People taking part in exchange programs like: youth exchange participants and teacher-exchange participants.
- Spouses and Common-law partners: of full-time students (as long as the spouse is not a full-time student) and certain skilled foreign workers. They may be able to apply for an open work permit allowing them to work for any employer.
- Workers, Spouses, and Dependents eligible for a work permit through a Pilot Project: These are agreements between the Government of Canada and Provincial/Territorial Governments. For example, in Alberta the following jobs certified by Alberta Apprenticeship and Training qualify:
- Heavy-duty equipment mechanic
There are also programs in Yukon and Ontario, but applications are now closed for all 3 provinces/territories. They usually re-open the following year, so check back. Other categories under the International Mobility Program are:
- Workers nominated by a province for permanent residence: They must have a job offer from a provincially-based employer.
- Entrepreneurs and workers transferred within a company (intra-company transferees with specialized knowledge): As stated above, only those that will benefit Canada and Canadians with their skills and experience will qualify as LMIA-exempt.
- Academics, including researchers, guest lecturers and visiting professors.
- Co-op students studying in Canada and doing co-op work placements or internships.
- Religious workers which includes people doing charitable or religious work.
Remember to check with both ESDC and CIC to ensure that a group you may be a part of has not had its status changed from LMIA-exempt to belonging under the TFWP, and therefore now requiring an LMIA. Things are in flux given the current review being carried out by the government, so the occupation that applies to you may change status at some point in the near future.