In most cases, a Canadian employer wishing to hire a foreign worker must first receive government approval before the hiring can take place.

This comes in the form of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).

In order to receive a positive LMIA, the Canadian government employee reviewing an application must determine that the hiring of a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour market. Among other factors, it must be clear that no qualified Canadians were passed up in favour of the foreign worker, and that the foreign worker will be given a salary and benefits that meet federal and provincial standards.

The LMIA process is different depending on whether the targeted employee is classified as “high-wage” or “low-wage”. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage are considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above are considered high-wage. Depending on whether a prospective employee is classified as high-wage or low-wage, certain specific provisions apply.

Generally speaking, all Canadian employers must provide evidence that they have attempted to find qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill job positions before turning to foreign workers. In addition, employers may be inspected for compliance to government regulations after their employee has begun working in Canada.

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High-Wage Workers

Employers seeking to hire high-wage workers must submit transition plans along with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to ensure that they are taking steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time. High-wage workers are those earning above the median hourly wage for a given occupation in specified region.

The transition plans are designed to ensure that employers seeking foreign workers are fulfilling the purpose of the program. This entails that they are using the program as a last and limited resort to address immediate labour needs on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available, ensuring that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs.

Certain occupations in Quebec are “facilitated”, meaning that local recruitment efforts do not need to be performed by employers as part of their applications to hire temporary foreign workers for any of the facilitated occupations. Learn more about work permits in Quebec and which occupations are facilitated in Quebec.


Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory

Province/TerritoryWage ($/hr) as of April 29, 2017



British Columbia




New Brunswick


Newfoundland and Labrador


Northwest Territories


Nova Scotia






Prince Edward Island








Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey


Low-Wage Workers

Employers seeking to hire low-wage workers do not need to submit transition plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). They must, however, follow a different set of guidelines.

To restrict access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), while ensuring that Canadians are always considered first for available jobs, the Government of Canada has introduced a cap to limit the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers that a business can employ. Furthermore, certain low-wage occupations may be refused for LMIA processing. Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA are subject to a cap of 10 percent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers. This cap will be phased in over 2015 and 2016 in order to provide employers who are above the 10 percent cap time to transition and adjust accordingly.

Employers offering a wage that is below the provincial/territorial median hourly wage must:

  • pay for round-trip transportation for the temporary foreign worker;
  • ensure affordable housing is available;
  • pay for private health insurance until workers are eligible for provincial health coverage;
  • register the temporary foreign worker with the provincial/territorial workplace safety board; and
  • provide an employer-employee contract.

As of April 30, 2015, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program uses the latest Labour Force Survey results for the unemployment rates in regions across Canada. These rates determine which regions are eligible for employers to submit Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) for low-wage/lower skilled occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services sector and the Retail Trade sector. LMIA applications for these sectors will not be processed in economic regions where the unemployment rate is 6 per cent or higher.

Given its unique labour market conditions, and as requested by the Government of the Northwest Territories, applications in these sectors for positions located in Yellowknife will be accepted for processing.

Province/TerritoryEconomic RegionUnemployment Rate (%)Above/At Or Below 6%
Newfoundland & LabradorAvalon Peninsula10.5Above
 South Coast-Burin Peninsula and Notre Dame-Central Bonavista Bay18.6Above
 West Coast – Northern Peninsula – Labrador16.0Above
Prince Edward IslandPrince Edward Island10.7Above
Nova ScotiaCape Breton14.7Above
 North Coast8.9Above
 Annapolis Valley8.0Above
New BrunswickCampbellton – Miramichi15.8Above
 Moncton – Richibucto8.5Above
 Saint John – St. Stephen8.4Above
 Fredericton – Oromocto8.2Above
 Edmundston – Woodstock6.8Above
QuebecGaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine14.6Above
 Centre du Québec5.3Below
 Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean7.9Above
 Kingston – Pembroke6.0Above/At
 Muskoka – Kawarthas5.7Below
 Kitchener – Waterloo – Barrie5.4Below
 Hamilton – Niagara Peninsula6.4Above
 Windsor – Sarnia6.6Above
 Stratford – Bruce Peninsula4.8Below
 South Central4.1Below
 North Central3.8Below
 Parklands and Northern4.5Below
SaskatchewanRegina – Moose Mountain5.3Below
 Swift Current – Moose Jaw3.8Below
 Saskatoon – Biggar6.5Above
 Yorkton – Melville6.6Above
 Prince Albert and Northern8.8Above
AlbertaLethbridge – Medicine Hat6.9Above
 Camrose – Drumheller7.8Above
 Banff-Jasper-Rocky Mountain House and Athabasca-Grande Prairie-Peace River6.9Above
 Red Deer8.6Above
 Wood Buffalo – Cold Lake9.3Above
British ColumbiaVancouver Island and Coast5.8Below
 Lower Mainland – Southwest5.5Below
 Thompson – Okanagan7.8Above
 North Coast and Nechako7.7Above
Northwest TerritoriesNorthwest Territories7.4Above

The above rates are effective as of April 1, 2016.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey


Expediting a LMIA

LMIAs will be provided within a 10-business-day service standard for workers in the following occupational categories:

  • Highest-demand occupations

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to skilled trades positions where the wage offered is at or above the provincial/territorial median wage. These positions are essential to the development of major infrastructure and natural resource extraction projects, and are therefore considered vital to Canadian economic growth.

7202Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
7204Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades
7205Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers
7301Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades
7302Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews
8211Supervisors, logging and forestry
8221Supervisors, mining and quarrying
8222Contractors and supervisors, oil and gas drilling services
8241Logging machinery operators
8252Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
9211Supervisors, mineral and metal processing
9212Supervisors, petroleum, gas and chemical processing and utilities
9214Supervisors, plastic and rubber products manufacturing
9231Central control and process operators, mineral and metal processing
9241Power engineers and power systems operators
9243Water and waste treatment plant operators
7231Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors
7233Sheet metal workers
7235Structural metal and plate work fabricators and fitters
7237Welders and related machine operators
7241Electricians (except industrial and power system)
7242Industrial electricians
7243Power system electricians
7244Electrical power line and cable workers
7245Telecommunications line and cable workers
7246Telecommunications installation and repair workers
7252Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers
7253Gas fitters
7311Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
7312Heavy-duty equipment mechanics
7313Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics
7314Railway carmen/women
7315Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors
7318Elevator constructors and mechanics
7371Crane operators
7372Drillers and blasters – surface, mining, quarrying and construction
7373Water well drillers
8231Underground production and development miners
8232Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers
9232Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators
  • Highest-paid occupations ­

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers hiring temporary foreign workers in the highest-paid occupations that offer wages in the top 10 percent of wages earned by Canadians in a given province or territory where the job is located. This wage level indicated that a temporary foreign worker is the highest-skilled in their occupation, and that those skills are difficult to find in the Canadian labour market.

Province/TerritoryWages effective April 30, 2015 ($/hour)
British Columbia$42.00
New Brunswick$38.41
Newfoundland and Labrador$42.74
Northwest Territories$58.00
Nova Scotia$39.42
Prince Edward Island$36.06
  • Shortest-duration occupations

The 10-day service standard for this category is limited to employers requesting temporary foreign workers for a short duration, defined as 120 calendar days or less, in any occupation where the wage offered is at or above the provincial or territorial median wage. Positions falling under this category include those related to repairs or manufacturing equipment and warranting work.

After receiving a positive LMIA, the employer should send a copy to their identified foreign worker. The positive LMIA must be included in the worker’s application for a Temporary Work Permit.

A single LMIA can be issued for one or multiple employees. In the case of multiple employees, the LMIA will only be issued to employees who will be filling identical positions as identified by the Canadian National Occupation Classification.

There are several instances where an employer may be exempt from the requirement to secure a LMIA. For more information on LMIA Exemptions, please click here.

To find out if you or your business is eligible to apply for a LMIA, please contact us today.


Advertising Requirements

Employers wishing to hire a temporary foreign worker to Canada must pay a processing fee of CDN $1,000 for each request for a Labour Market Impact Assessment. There is also be an additional $100 privilege fee on employers charged by Employment and Social Development Canada.

English and French are the only languages that can be determined as job requirements, both for LMIAs and for job vacancy advertisements, unless the employer can prove that another language is otherwise required for the position.

In addtion, employers must advertise all job vacancies across the Canadian job market for at least four weeks before applying for a LMIA. Towards this end, employers are required to prove that they have used at least two other recruitment methods in addition to having posted an advertisement on the Canada Job Bank. Employers must focus advertising efforts on groups of Canadians who are under-represented, such as First Nations or persons with disabilities.

Employers are also required to submit a transition plan to ESDC, along with the application for a LMIA, for high-wage positions. This transition plan should indicate how the company plans to reduce its reliance on temporary foreign workers in the future. Proof of investment in skills training or hiring Canadian apprentices are examples of how employers can prove this. Alternatively, employers can demonstrate how they are assisting their high-skilled temporary foreign worker(s) in becoming Canadian permanent residents. If the employer is chosen for an inspection, or if they apply to renew their LMIA, they will be required to report on the progress of the transition plan that they have submitted.

Employers are required to attest to their awareness that they are prohibited from laying off or cutting the hours of Canadian workers working in the same postion(s) as the temporary foreign worker(s) working at the company.

There are a number of variations to the aforementioned advertising requirements. Click here to learn more.


Quebec-specific exemptions and variations

This section will look at exemptions and variations to the LMIA process that are specific to the province of Quebec.

  • Work permits issued to holders of a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ)

A Quebec Selection Certificate/certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ) is a document issued by the government of Quebec to individuals who have been approved for immigration to that province. Holders of a CSQ may work in Quebec without their employer needing to secure a LMIA. To learn more, visit this section of our CSQ page.

  • Facilitated list of occupations

industry sectors experiencing high demand for labour are included on what is known as the list of facilitated LMIA occupations for Quebec. Employers in Quebec applying under the facilitated LMIA process are not required to provide proof of recruitment efforts.

  • Other workers

Foreign workers who do not fall into either of the above categories may have to apply for and obtain a Certificat d’Acceptation du Quebec(Certificate of Acceptance to Quebec, CAQ) and a temporary work permit before beginning their employment in Quebec.