Every year, Canadian employers fill hundreds of thousands of jobs with foreign workers.

If you want to hire foreign talent, the first step is to determine if you need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). A positive LMIA signals to the federal government that there is no Canadian available for the job, and you as the employer can hire the foreign worker without negatively impacting the Canadian labour market. Once you get the LMIA, the worker can then apply for a work permit. Work permits that require LMIAs fall under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Sometimes the position gets categorized into Canada’s broader economic or cultural objectives. Employers hiring for these types of positions do not require an LMIA. These LMIA-exempt work permits fall under what is called the International Mobility Program (IMP).

In some cases, the foreign worker does not require a work permit. Work permit-exempt positions may include media, business visitors, athletes, and others who are working in Canada temporarily.

Who needs an LMIA?

Most Canadian employers need an LMIA before they can hire a foreign worker. You do not need an LMIA if one of the Canadian government’s LMIA exemption codes or work permit exemption codes applies to your situation. If you are still not sure, you can contact the International Mobility Workers Unit so long as you are hiring a foreign worker from a visa-exempt country who is not already in Canada.

How to apply for an LMIA

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is the federal department responsible for issuing LMIAs. The application process depends on what type of program you are hiring through. They are broken into four categories:

Once you get the LMIA, then your foreign employee can apply for a work permit to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

What do workers need from the employer to apply for a work permit?

To apply for a work permit, a foreign worker needs four documents:

  • a contract;
  • a copy of the LMIA;
  • the LMIA number; and
  • a job offer letter.

The job offer letter is less detailed than a contract, and includes information about:

  • employee’s pay and deductions from pay;
  • job duties; and
  • conditions of employment, such as hours of work.

If the worker is approved, they will receive a letter of introduction. They can then get their work permit from a border services officer when they arrive in Canada. If they are already in Canada, IRCC will mail them the work permit.

Hiring if you do not need an LMIA

If you are hiring a foreign worker through the IMP, you first need to pay an employer compliance fee and submit an offer of employment form through the Employer Portal. After you have done this, then your worker can apply for a work permit.

Hiring foreign workers in Quebec

If you are hiring under the TFWP in Quebec, the foreign worker will need to apply for a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI).

However, if you are hiring through the IMP, the worker does not need a CAQ.

Hiring for a permanent position

You can support your employee’s immigration process if you want to offer them a permanent position.

One of the ways you can help your employee immigrate to Canada is through the Express Entry system. This is only for foreign nationals who have work experience in an occupation that falls under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes 0, A, or B. Keep in mind, the NOC will change to the TEER system in 2022.

Employers hiring under the remainder NOC skill levels C and D may be able to support their employees immigration through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP), or another Canadian immigration program.

Express Entry candidates are chosen to apply for immigration based on a points system. They can get more points for having a valid job offer. The requirements for a “valid” job offer are different depending on which program the candidate is eligible for. Under the Express Entry system, there are three: Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

For the CEC and FSWP, a valid job offer must be for a job that is at least one year in duration after IRCC issues the permanent residency visa. It cannot be seasonal, and it must be at least 30 hours per week. Again, the jobs are only valid if they fall under NOC Skill Level 0 (managerial occupations), A (professional occupations) or B (technical occupations and skilled trades).

For FSTP candidates, a valid job offer must also be for at least one year of full-time work, and fall under NOC Skill Level B. The wages and working conditions should be comparable to those offered to Canadians working in the same occupation. FSTP candidates may receive job offers for up to two employers.

What to tell new employees before coming to Canada

Public health measures are constantly changing at the border depending on the COVID-19 situation. The Canadian government website has the information on how to comply with the most up-to-date regulations.

Depending on the country where your new employee is coming from, they will either need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization. These documents are issued along with the work permit. They may also have to undergo a medical exam during the application process, depending on what type of work they will do in Canada and where they have lived in the previous year.

Also, some countries have exit requirements on their citizens. Your foreign worker can check with their government to find out what they may need to do before leaving their country.

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