LMIA Applications: A Guide for Employers

Although businesses in British Columbia successfully leveraged Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program to attract more than 20,000 employees last year, there’s simply no guarantee that their applications will be approved by Service Canada – no matter how urgent those workers are needed.

Failure to meet any of the Government’s Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirements can result in negative decisions after long waiting periods, ending in frustration for both employer and foreign worker.

While initiatives like the Global Skills Strategy aim to accelerate the pace of importing talent to a mere two weeks, the majority of businesses will need to go through the slower LMIA process when bringing workers into our country.

Below are some of the most important aspects of a successful LMIA application: the advertising requirements, the job match system, properly defining wages and more. Even employers that are experienced in the LMIA process regularly turn to immigration lawyers in order to prevent delays and ensure that costly, business-disrupting mistakes are avoided.

Three Ways Workers can Enter Canada

The immigration process begins once a Canadian employer has extended an offer of employment to a foreign national. At that point, there are three major methods by which the worker can enter the country:

1. Working in Canada Without a Permit

Canadian immigration regulations permit certain foreign nationals, such as business visitors, to work in our country without a Canadian work permit.

2. Working in Canada While Exempt From Labor Certifications

Canada’s Immigration Regulations also permit certain foreign nationals to work on a work permit without the need for labour certification. This process involves the employer applying to Service Canada for an LMIA as a precondition to obtaining a work permit. This exemption from the LMIA process involves, as one example, those workers identified specifically under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as exempt.

These preceding options should always be explored before proceeding to option 3, as the third option requires the prospective employer, as opposed to the employee, to follow a rather laborious process.

3. Applying for Labor Market Impact Assessment

If no exemptions apply, the first step that employers must take when applying for an LMIA is to begin a mandatory 30-day period of advertising the position on a major job website, although there are some exemptions from this time frame.

How to Meet the LMIA Advertising Requirements

To meet the minimum advertising requirements, effective August 28, 2017, the position must be advertised on the Federal Government Job Bank. Prior to August 28, 2017, employers in BC could use the Job Bank’s Provincial counterpart Work BC. Work BC can still be used as one advertisement, but advertising on the Job Bank is now mandatory.

In addition, it is also required that two alternative methods of advertising, consistent with the normal practice for the occupation, must be conducted. One of the methods used must be national in scope and easily accessed by residents of any province or territory, as people in high-wage positions are often willing to relocate for the job.

The guidelines also state that if those additional methods of recruitment are online, the online advertisements must have unique value and reach different audiences. Therefore you should consider advertising in sources targeting unrepresented groups, new immigrants, and youth.


Job Match System

As of August 28, 2017, employers must use the Job Match service when advertising a position on the Job Bank. The Job Match service ranks the candidates in the Job Bank in terms of compatibility with the posted job requirements, using a ranking system of one to five stars. When seeking to fill a “high wage” position (a position that is above the median wage for the occupation in the Province), the employer is required to invite all job seekers matched within the first 30 days of the advertisements to apply for the position, providing they rated four stars or more.

You must ensure that the job advertisements have been placed within a 90-day period before submitting the Labour Market Impact Assessment. The ads must run for a minimum of four weeks prior to submitting the LMIA. At least one ad must remain posted until the decision on the LMIA is rendered, which can take three to four months at the present time.

The Job Advertisement Format

The contents of your advertisement  must contain the following:

  • Your Company’s Name
  • Business Address
  • Title of the Position
  • The Job Duties
  • The Term of Employment, i.e. full time permanent
  • Wage – a wage range can be used, but certain rules apply, as we’ll discuss below
  • Benefits to be offered
  • Location of work
  • Contact information
  • Skills Requirements, in terms of education and work experience
  • Working conditions and occupations

Setting Wages

For the purposes of Service Canada, the wage to be paid for the job is, at a minimum,

  • Posted prevailing wage for the occupation and work location where the temporary foreign worker will be employed, or
  • A wage that is within the same wage range that they are paying their current employees working in the same position and same work location if this range is higher than the prevailing wage.

Unless the particular foreign worker is in the top ten percent of wage earners in the Province, which triggers a ten day processing period, processing of an LMIA can take 12 weeks depending on the volume of applications. There is a standard $1,000 fee.