While LMIA is required in many situations where the employer is extending a job offer to a foreign national, there are some exceptions depending on the foreign national’s country of citizenship and their profession. As an employer and employee, you benefit by saving anywhere between 2 weeks to 3 months of processing time depending on the stream of the LMIA, allowing the employee to start the employment in Canada much sooner. Depending on where the foreign national is from and in what professional capacity they will be coming to Canada, they might even be eligible to apply for a Work Permit at the border upon their entry to Canada.
Even though there’s no requirement to apply for an LMIA, in most cases there is a requirement for the employer to submit an on-line offer of employment thought an employer portal associated with IRCC. For individuals eligible for open work permits, there’s no requirement for an on-line offer of employment. These individuals are eligible to apply to any prospective employer without any additional submissions to ESDC or IRCC.
The following classes below exempt the employer from obtaining an LMIA:
INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS – NAFTA, GATS, FTA, CETA
Nationals of countries that have an international agreement with Canada under these provisions and are coming to Canada to execute professional services in the following categories are exempt from LMIA:
- Business Visitors: Short-term business visits for after-hours equipment repair, observe site visits, meet companies doing business with their company without directly entering the Canadian labour market.
- Professionals listed on the Appendix 1603.D.1 list: Important to note that you must minimum education requirements, experience alone is not enough.
- Intra-Company Transferees: Must be in a managerial or executive capacity. Must have at least 1 full year of full-time employment in home organization.
- Traders and Investors: For individuals that carry on substantial trade in goods or services between the U.S. or Mexico and Canada or have committed, or are in the process of committing, a substantial amount of capital in Canada. Traders and investors must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity or one that involves essential skills (Limited to nationals of USA or Mexico only).
If you are a citizen of the following countries, you may qualify for a work permit under one of the LMIA exemption categories, depending on your profession and acquired experience: USA, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Panama, citizen of any country in the European Union, Australia and New Zealand.
This class refers to individuals that can bring a significant benefit to Canada. Significant benefit is defined by individuals who can bring certain talents and skills that are rarely found in the Canadian labour market. Currently, individuals who fall under these categories are considered to be part of this class:
- French speakers;
- Religious and charity workers;
- Athlete or professional coach working for Canadian teams;
- Exchange programs for professors or visiting lecturers;
- Established international organization exchanging skilled workers.
You may qualify to come to Canada as an intra-company transferee in a managerial or executive capacity if you can prove that you hold specialized proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise that can be transferable and beneficial to the Canadian labour market. It is also important that your home company and company in Canada have a qualifying relationship, meaning a subsidiary, a branch or affiliate. You must also have at least 1 full year of full-time employment in home organization.
INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE CLASS
International Experience Canada (IEC) provides young individuals the opportunity to travel and work in Canada for temporary periods. IEC is available for citizens of 32 active countries and territories that have a bilateral youth mobility agreement with Canada and who are between the ages of 18 and 35. You must also show the equivalent of $2,500 CAN upon landing to help cover initial expenses and hold active health insurance for the duration of your stay.
The IEC program is composed of three categories. Depending on where you are from, participants can choose from up to three travel and work experiences:
1. WORKING HOLIDAY
Working holiday program is designed for people who want to fund their vacation with a temporary work in Canada. Furthermore, the work portion of their trip lets them earn income so that they can fund their travels during their stay. Participants can receive an open work permit, valid for one to two years. The work permit received will be an open work permit, allowing foreign nationals to work anywhere in Canada.
2. YOUNG PROFESSIONALS
This program allows foreign national to gain professional work experience and new approaches to better compete in a global economy. A signed job offer letter or a contract with a Canadian employer is required before applying to the program. The job offered must be within one of the National Occupation Code (NOC) Skills Levels 0, A or B. If you are eligible to apply for a Young Professional work permit, you will be eligible to claim arranged employment points in the Express Entry system after completing 1 year of full-time continuous employment.
3. INTERNATIONAL CO-OP
This program is designed for people who want to acquire valuable overseas work experience related to their fields of study. In order to spend a period of time interning for Canadian companies, participants must be enrolled at a post-secondary institution in their home country. Furthermore, they must arrange co-op placements with Canadian employers before applying and be registered students for the duration of the internship.
WORK PERMIT THROUGH A RECOGNIZED ORGANIZATION
If your country of citizenship does not have an international agreement with Canada, you may be able to use a Recognized Organization to come to Canada under IEC. For organizations that only provide support to IEC countries/territories only, it allows for a second participation in the IEC program for nationals of applicable countries. Canada appointed 9 eligible organizations that can support your application for a work permit, those are:
- AIESEC Canada: Young Professionals work permits for individuals between the ages of 18 to 30 from IEC countries/territories + Brazil and India;
- GO International: Working Holiday work permits for individuals between the ages of 18 to 35 from IEC countries/territories + Brazil, Ecuador and the USA;
- IAESTE: Young Professionals and International Co-op work permits for individuals between the ages of 18 to 35 from IEC countries/territories + IAESTE country partners;
- International Rural Exchange (IRE): Working Holiday and Young Professionals work permits for individuals between the ages of 18 to 35 from IEC countries/territories only;
- Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN): Working Holiday and Young Professionals work permits for individuals between the ages of 18 to 35 from IEC countries/territories only;
- Stepwest: Working Holiday and Young Professionals work permits for individuals between the ages of 18 to 35 from IEC countries/territories only;
- SWAP Working Holidays: Working Holiday and Young Professionals work permits for individuals between the ages of 18 to 35 from IEC countries/territories + the USA;
- University of British Columbia: International Co-op and Young Professionals work permits for individuals between the ages of 18 to 35 from IEC countries/territories + Brazil, China, Iceland, India, Pakistan, Singapore and the USA; and
- University of New Brunswick: International Co-op and Young Professionals work permits for individuals between the ages of 18 to 30 from IEC countries/territories only.
OPEN WORK PERMIT HOLDERS
If you hold an open work permit, your employer does not need to apply and obtain an LMIA. The list below outlines individuals who are eligible for an open work permit:
- Individuals with a post-graduate work permit;
- Individuals with a working holiday work permit;
- Spouses of students attending a public college or university in Canada on a full-time basis; *Quebec allows for private college attendees to have their spouses apply for an open work permit
- Spouses of skilled workers in Canada;
- Spouses of Canadian citizens or permanent residents who submitted an inland spousal sponsorship application.
Individuals that fall under any of these categories allow the employer to be exempt from submitting an application for an LMIA. Instead, the employer will need submit an on-line offer of employment which will generate a special code to be used for a foreign national to apply for a work permit. This does not apply to holders of open work permits.
Certain individuals are eligible to apply for a work permit at the border upon their arrival, meaning there will be no need to submit an on-line application and wait for it to be processed.
WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
If you are an employer that identified an eligible foreign national making you exempt from obtaining an LMIA, contact us by scheduling a 30-min briefing call here to discuss eligibility and action plan. We can advise you on what will be needed from you as an employer, expected time lines and how soon the foreign national can obtain their work permit to help you plan internally.
If you are an employee who might be eligible under more than one category mentioned above, contact us by booking an assessment call where we can evaluate your resume and properly advise you on which route to take.