Many Canadian employers, unable to find the right skilled workers in Canada, look abroad to hire their talents. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) provides employers a number of escape hatches to avoid the need to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”), familiarly referred by employers as “sponsoring” a foreign employee. While alternatives to LMIAs are topics to be discussed, let’s take a look at that LMIA application process itself and try to demystify it.
So WHAT is a LMIA?
The LMIA, administered by Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”), is a means to address an employer’s skills needs while protecting the local labour market.
It requires an employer seeking to hire a foreign worker to demonstrate its inability to find a Canadian or Permanent Resident with the appropriate skills and experience, before filling a LMIA application. The employer is expected to advertise the position, complete with wages, hours of employment and location, for a minimum of 1 month on at least 3 national job recruitment sites. If no domestic candidate comes forward during this period, the employer can file the LMIA application. A positive LMIA “opinion” will then allow the employer to hire a foreign worker.
TYPES of LMIAs
An employer can choose to hire a foreign worker:
· Temporarily or permanently – an employer can have it both ways, seeking a “dual” LMIA, allowing quicker entry for the new employee on a work permit, during which the worker may apply for permanent residence.
· On a High or Low Wage – although a high wage position may trigger speedier processing.
· In bulk – possible to hire several foreign workers for a same position.
PROCESS – for most LMIAs
1. Advertise the position for 4 weeks; the ads must be exactly according to ESDC/Service Canada standards.
2. Consider, evaluate, interview as necessary and make a record of applications received.
3. Complete and file the LMIA application.
4. Obtain a positive LMIA opinion.
5. Apply for a Work Permit and/or Permanent Residence.
FASTER LMIA route – The Global Skills Strategy
The federal government’s Global Skills Strategy (“GSS”) has opened up an accelerated LMIA processing stream for qualified “high-growth” employers and those hiring certain designated high skilled occupations, such as IT workers. Once approved for GSS processing, an employer is exempted from the need to pursue local recruitment to obtain its LMIA. Moreover processing of LMIAs under this stream is promised to be completed within just 2 weeks.
The LMIA is an immigration lawyer’s last recourse. Alternative options are numerous.
As long as an employer can demonstrate through a specific application process that there is a labour shortage hence a true need for that foreign worker, chances are approval are high.