Labour Market Impact Assessments - Temporary Foreign Worker Program

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has the lead on all requirements related to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Within ESDC, there are different branches and programs that touch on the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, both before submission of a work permit application and inspections after a work permit issuance.

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Overview of ESDC and SC

ESDC is the Department responsible for developing, managing and delivering employment and social development programs and services. Within the ESDC portfolio is SC, a single point of access for ESDC programs. As the public face of ESDC, SC processes the LMIA applications from employers, operates the Job Bank and issues social insurance numbers to temporary residents authorized to work.

Within ESDC/SC, the TFWP is administered by the Skills and Employment Branch, Program Operation Branch and the Integrity Services Branch. The program is delivered by Service Canada Regional Operations through Citizen Services and Program Delivery Branch and Integrity Service Branch.

ESDC National Headquarters (POB, SEB & ISB)

Program Operations Branch (POB)

Provides functional direction and guidance on operational procedures to SC regions on assessment of LMIAs.

Integrity Services Branch (ISB)

Is responsible for triaging complaints, liaison with law enforcement agencies and functional direction to regions on employer compliance.

Skills and Employment Branch (SEB)

Leads TFWP policy, performance and reporting and Federal-Provincial/Territorial and National Stakeholder Relations.

ESDC Regional Operations (CSPDB and ISB)

Citizen Services and Program Delivery Branch (CSPDB)

Processes LMIA applications and is responsible for regional stakeholder relations.

Integrity Services Branch(ISB)

Conducts employer compliance activities on behalf of the TFWP and some aspects of the International Mobility Program (IMP).

For further information consult: Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

In addition to the general High- and Low-wage streams, ESDC has several different streams in the TFWP:

Express entry – for employers to hire a skilled foreign worker to support their permanent residence through an economic immigration program.

Global Talent Stream – for employers to hire uniquely skilled talent or in-demand workers in select Information and Communication Technology (ICT) or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) jobs to scale up and grow businesses.

Academics – for employers to hire an academic at a college, university or degree granting institution in Canada.

Agriculture – for employers to hire on-farm foreign workers for jobs in primary agriculture. Primary agriculture has four sub-streams: Agriculture, Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), High Wage and Low Wage

  • SAWP – Limited to workers from Mexico and 11 Caribbean countries, for seasonal work only (max. 8 months). The commodity (agricultural product) must be on the National Commodities List (NCL) and the wage is based on the rate for that commodity.
  • Agriculture – Complements the SAWP, but is open to workers from all countries, for seasonal and full-year work and with the same NCL requirements as the SAWP.
  • Low Wage – Open to workers from all countries, for seasonal and full-year work. The commodity must not be on the NCL, and the wage is lower than the Job Bank median wage.
  • High Wage – Open to workers from all countries, for seasonal and full-year work. The commodity must not be on the NCL, and the wage is higher than the Job Bank median wage.

Caregivers – Hire an in-home worker to care for children, seniors or persons with medical needs.

Positions in Quebec – for employers to hire foreign workers in the province of Quebec.

Responsibilities of ESDC, including SC, IRCC and CBSA

The delivery of the TFWP relies on the close cooperation of these 3 federal organizations.

ESDC, including SC, is responsible for liaising with the employer in the TFWP, for receiving and processing LMIA applications, including a genuineness assessment and providing a positive or negative decision. ESDC/SC makes an eligibility decision only on the employment’s effect on the labour market and does not assess any individual foreign nationals named in the LMIA application. In addition, ESDC’s Integrity Services Branch (ISB) is responsible for conducting employer compliance inspections on employers under the TFWP after work permits based on LMIAs are issued.

IRCC offices, both in Canada and abroad, are responsible for processing work permit applications based on a positive or neutral LMIA. IRCC makes the decision on the eligibility of foreign nationals who submit work permit applications supported by an LMIA. IRCC officers assess the genuineness of the job offer submitted with the LMIA.

CBSA is responsible for processing work permit applications submitted at the port of entry and also for issuing work permits provisionally approved outside of Canada, as well as for the foreign national’s examination upon entry to Canada.

IRCC or CBSA officers who want more information on general labour market matters can review the labour market information here: Explore the Canadian labour market

LMIA legislative authorities

The requirement for a labour market assessment is found in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its Regulations as indicated below.

Subparagraph R200(1)(c)(iii) allows an officer to assess a work permit application from a foreign national who has been offered employment, and the officer has made a positive determination under paragraphs R203(1)(a) to (g).

Paragraphs R203(1)(a) to (g) provide the requirements for the officer to make a determination on the basis of an assessment provided by ESDC. A positive or neutral labour market assessment is not the only factor that officers must assess when making decisions on work permit applications accompanied by an LMIA. Officers must still be satisfied that all other requirements are met and that they are not prohibited from issuing a work permit under subsection R200(3).

Subsection R203(2) states that ESDC must provide the assessment on request of an officer or an employer, including groups of employers, other than employers who are banned or who on a regular basis, offer striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages.

Subsection R203(3) provides authority for ESDC to determine if the employment of the foreign national is likely to have a positive or neutral effect on the labour market in Canada.

Some assessment factors include if the employment of the foreign national will or is likely to result in

  • job creation or retention
  • skills or knowledge transfer
  • filling a labour shortage
  • hiring and training of Canadian citizens or permanent residents
  • no adverse effect on any labour dispute in progress

In addition, ESDC must assess if

  • the wages offered to the foreign national are consistent with the prevailing wage rate
  • the working conditions meet acceptable Canadian standards
  • the employer has fulfilled all their commitments under any previous LMIA

LMIA application process

Employer identifies whether they need an LMIA or may qualify for an LMIA exemption.

Employer should check if ESDC will refuse to process the LMIA application.

If the employer requires an LMIA and is not one of the refusal to process categories, they may submit the LMIA application up to six months in advance of the expected start date.

The application package must include:

  • The LMIA application form (there are different application forms depending on the Stream the employer is using e.g. High- or Low-wage)
  • proof of business legitimacy, if applicable
  • proof of recruitment
  • payment information for the processing fee for each position requested, if applicable

There are specific program requirements for each of the LMIA streams. For further information, officers can review the ESDC public site at: Program requirements for low-wage positions or Program requirements for high-wage positions.

Unnamed LMIAs

An employer, outside of Quebec, may submit an Unnamed LMIA application to ESDC prior to knowing who they will be hiring since the LMIA is based on the position, not the worker.

Once the foreign workers are identified the employer must complete and submit the form “Request to add or remove a name on an LMIA” to ESDC/SC prior to any work permit application submission. ESDC/SC will add the names of the foreign nationals into the LMIA system and issue a new positive LMIA letter to the employer within 5 to 10 business days that includes the names of the foreign nationals. The official positive LMIA letter with the foreign workers’ names included will have the same expiry date as the initial unnamed positive LMIA letter.

Until the foreign worker is specifically named in the LMIA, the requirements of section R203 are not met, and therefore a work permit can not be issued under subparagraph R200(1)(c)(iii).

Note: The only exception to this is under the Seasonal Agricultural Work Program where the foreign worker name is supplied by the foreign government pursuant to international agreements.

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