A Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is required to apply for most Work Permits in Canada. An LMIA ensures that hiring a foreign worker will positively affect the Canadian labor market & economy. Obtaining an LMIA is a complex and lengthy process - that some employers tend to avoid.
Fortunately, the Canadian government allows some foreign workers to work in Canada without an LMIA. These workers fall under the International Mobility Program (IMP). The IMP is designed to promote Canada’s economic, social, and cultural interests. Some of the most common LMIA-exempt streams fall under the IMP - which can be further divided into three categories.
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LMIA Exempt Work Permits in Canada
CATEGORY 1: Significant Benefit
The foreign national’s work must be considered beneficial to Canada. Visa Officers in Canada have some flexibility in determining who is issued a work permit under this category. Some of the LMIA-exempt work permit programs in the Significant Benefit category include:
Entrepreneurs or Self-Employed Persons
Foreign nationals who seek to come to Canada - to start or run a business, may be granted an LMIA exemption. Immigrants wanting to apply for Self-Employed Visa or Entrepreneur Visa - must demonstrate that they are the sole (or majority) owner of the business and that the business is of significant benefit to the economy.
For international workers looking to move to Canada, the Canada Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) stream is a popular option. Under this program, candidates working for organizations with a parent firm, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate in Canada may be able to obtain a work permit for Canada without an LMIA.
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The CUSMA (Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement) is a free trade agreement that permits citizens of the U.S. and Mexico to work and live in Canada without an LMIA. There are four categories of the CUSMA: CUSMA Professionals, CUSMA Intra-Company Transfer, CUSMA Traders, and CUSMA Investors.
CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) allows certain business visitors, investors, ICT’s, service providers, and other independent professionals to come live and work in Canada without the LMIA. CETA is a free-trade agreement between Canada, the European Union (EU), and its member states.
TV and Film Production Workers
Television and Film Production companies are allowed to bring workers to Canada, provided that they demonstrate that the work performed by the hired worker is essential to the production of the television show or film.
CATEGORY 2: Reciprocal Employment
Canada’s Reciprocal Employment allows foreign workers to live and work in Canada – when Canadians have similar (reciprocal) work opportunities abroad. Such agreements can be in the form of:
The worker must be of significant benefit to Canada.
International Exchange Program
A program for International Youth to work in Canada.
Being registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a charity is a strong indicator that an organization is charitable in nature, but foreign workers may be able to live and work in Canada for an organization that is not registered with the CRA without requiring an LMIA.
Foreign Nationals who are a part of, or share a religious belief of a certain religious community in Canada are allowed to work in the intended area - without an LMIA. The primary duties of the foreign worker must be a particular religious objective, such as instruction or promotion of a religion or faith.