Work Permit / Working Visa

Generally speaking, a person who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident who wishes to work in Canada requires a work permit. Depending on the nature of the activity, a person may be exempted from requiring a work permit. But in most cases, he or she will need to obtain a work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to work legally in Canada. Depending on whether the employment of the foreign worker is likely to have a positive or negative impact on the labour market in Canada, a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formally known as Labor Market Opinion (LMO), may be required in order for a work visa permit to be issued.

The following activities are work permit exempt:

• Business visitors
• Foreign representatives and their family members
• Foreign government officers
• Military personnel
• On-campus employment
• Performing artists
• Athletes and coaches
• News reporters and media crews
• Public speakers
• Convention organizers
• Clergy (religious worker)
• Judges, referees and similar officials.
• Examiners and evaluators
• Expert witnesses or investigators
• Health care students
• Civil aviation inspectors
• Aviation accident or incident inspectors
• Crew
• Emergency service providers
• Implied status

International Mobility Programs (IMP) – Work permits exempt from an LMIA

• International Agreements (such as NAFTA and GATS)
• Canadian interests (such as intra-company transfer and entrepreneurs, which are also called significant benefits, reciprocal employment, and spouses of skilled workers)
• Self-support (such as refugee claimants)
• Applicants in Canada (such as live-in caregiver class and spouse or common-law partner class)
• Humanitarian reasons (such as destitute students or holders of TRP valid for more than 6 months)

Work permits requiring an LMIA

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is an opinion provided by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada to determine whether the employment of the foreign worker is likely to have a positive or negative impact on the labour market in Canada. A LMIA may be required in order for a work permit to be issued.
The LMIA process begins by the prospective employer demonstrating their recruitment effort and submitting required application forms and documents. Once the application is received, ESDC/Service Canada considers several factors, including the availability of Canadians and the offered wages as well as the economic benefit the foreign worker would bring to Canada. ESDC/Service Canada then provides the opinion to the officer.

Important Information. On June 20, 2014, the Government of Canada announced an overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Worker program. The changes included new assessment criteria for workers, who will now be assessed based on the median wages of their employer’s province/territory instead of National Occupation Codes (NOC). Employers must provide additional information, including the number of Canadian that applied for their available job, the number of Canadians the employer interviewed, that explain why those Canadians were not hired. Employers must also attest that they are aware of the rule that Canadians cannot be laid-off or have their hours reduced at a worksite that employs temporary foreign workers. In the eyes of the government, the responsibility for obtaining an LMIA rests solely on the employer in Canada.

In addition to the increased LMIA requirements, there are now time limits placed on work permits as well. If you are offered a ‘low-wage’ position, which means you will be paid less than the provincial median wage, your work permit will not be issued longer than one year in length. Even if you are offered a ‘high-wage’ salary – your pay meets or exceeds provincial median wages – your work permit will be issued for up to two years, although this has not been formally implemented.


Get help with your LMIA and work permit from a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant. Mary Zhang has years of experience and is licensed by the ICCRC. Max Can Immigration’s offices are located in Markham.