Four common ways to work in Canada without an LMIA in the Canadian Interests category

Posted Nov 29, 2022 8:00 AM EST

Some foreign nationals seeking to work temporarily in Canada may do so without obtaining a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

An LMIA is the labor market test required by the Canadian government when an employer seeks to hire a foreign national due to a labor shortage. However, Canada also allows certain foreign nationals to also work here without the need for an LMIA for general economic, social and cultural policy reasons.

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One of the ways Canada allows this to happen is through the Canadian Interests category of the International Mobility Program (IMP), which contains four streams which will be described below.

Part 1: Competitiveness and public policy

The intended purpose of the Competitiveness and Public Policy Stream is to provide foreign nationals with work permits if they perform functions that require limited access to the Canadian labor market necessary, from a public policy perspective, to try to maintain the competitiveness of Canada’s educational institutions and/or economy.

The largest non-LMIA program in the entire work permit space falls under this stream. The program in question is called the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP).

The PGWP is a Canadian Interest Class program that provides international students who graduate from a qualifying program at any designated Canadian educational institution with an open work permit for up to three years to work for a Canadian employer of their choice without an existing job offer. at the time of the request.

Note: Although this program allows permits for a maximum of three years, the actual duration of a permit will depend on the length of the program of study the applicant graduated from.

This program is notable for being the one through which Canada provides most of its non-LMIA work permits on an annual basis.

The Competitiveness and Public Policy stream also includes a program that provides open work permits to spouses and common-law partners of full-time students and foreign nationals who have come to Canada as skilled workers.

Stream 2: Significant benefit

The second way a person can work in Canada without an LMIA is to have their work seen to bring significant social or cultural benefit to this country. Under this stream, work permits are granted to foreign workers who intend to perform jobs that benefit Canadian citizens and permanent residents, either through the creation/maintenance of social benefits, cultural or economic, or by creating new opportunities for Canadians.

“Significant benefit” is largely defined using expert testimony from people in the same field of work as the foreign national applying for the work permit. However, beyond these testimonials, Canada will also use the following objective measures, including the candidate’s background, to determine their ability to benefit Canada through their work:

  • An official academic record showing that the foreign national holds a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar achievement from an educational institution related to their field of work
  • Evidence from current or former employers showing that the applicant has 10 or more years of experience in the occupation for which they are coming to Canada
  • Whether the applicant has been the recipient of national or international awards or patents
  • Proof of candidate’s membership in organizations requiring excellence from its members
  • If the plaintiff has already been the judge of the work of others
  • Evidence that the nominee has received recognition for significant achievements and contributions to the field from peers, governmental organizations, or professional or trade associations
  • Evidence of an applicant’s scientific or scholarly contributions to the field
  • Any work written by the applicant in academic or industry publications
  • If the nominee has held a prominent role in an organization with a distinguished reputation

Here’s a look at some of the programs that exist as part of PMI’s significant benefits stream.

Entrepreneurs/Self-Employed: Private entrepreneurs wishing to start or operate a business in Canada. In this case, the applicant must be the sole or majority owner of the Canadian business and demonstrate that the benefit to Canada from the business will be significant.

Intra-Company Transfers: Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) work permit applicants coming to Canada to work for a Canadian affiliate, parent company, subsidiary or branch of their foreign employer

PCP candidates as entrepreneurs: any potential candidate under a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) coming to Canada as an entrepreneur

Stream 3: Reciprocal employment

A third path to work in Canada without an LMIA involves foreign nationals receiving employment opportunities in Canada following similar opportunities offered to Canadians working abroad.

In other words, the intended purpose of the Reciprocal Employment Stream is to provide work permits to foreign nationals who will perform duties in Canada which, therefore, will help to create or maintain international relationships which will provide employment opportunities. employment to Canadian citizens or permanent residents in other countries. around the world.

Under this stream, foreign nationals seeking to work in Canada can do so without an LMIA through international agreements and international exchange programs that mutually benefit non-Canadians coming to work in this country and native Canadians working in countries around the world.

International agreements: Due to the existence of international agreements such as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) – the replacement, from 2020, of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA ) – there is a reciprocal employment measure provided to Canadians in many international locations. Therefore, the admission of foreign workers to Canada through these agreements is considered a significant benefit to the country, negating the LMIA requirement for eligible foreign nationals.

International Exchange Programs: Programs like International Experience Canada (IEC) exist to provide opportunities for Canadians to grow by experiencing life abroad. In cases like this, foreign nationals applying through the PMI from countries that have an employment relationship with Canada are exempt from requiring an LMIA.

Stream 4: Charitable and religious workers

Finally, under the Charitable and Religious Worker Stream, Canada offers foreign work permit applicants coming to Canada with the intention of performing duties “of a religious or charitable nature” the opportunity to do so without an LMIA.

For these purposes, Canada defines charitable and religious work as follows.

Charitable work: work carried out for the purpose of alleviating poverty, advancing education, or providing other benefit to the community.

Some key notes on how Canada interprets charitable work:

  • Organizations registered as charities with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are considered more credible in terms of being considered truly « charitable in nature »
  • Charity volunteers do not need a work permit
  • Standard charity workers need a work permit but remain exempt from LMIA

Religious work: Work where the foreign applicant is required to « be part of or share the beliefs of the particular religious community where he intends to work or have the ability to teach or share other religious beliefs ».

Note: The nominee’s work must « reflect a particular religious purpose, » such as providing religious instruction or promoting a particular faith.

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