Congratulations on your decision to work in Canada. In order to work in Canada, a work permit is required. It is important to know that a work permit allows the applicant to work in Canada and is not a visa for arrival. To enter Canada, a visa is also required. There are two types of work permits: Open work permit, and Employer-specific work permit. While an open work permit does not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), an employer-specific work permit does. This is due to the fact that an open work permit is not restricted to a specific job like the employer-specific work permit. In other words, the Canada open work permit is not job-specific and allows the individual to work in other fields as well. In contrast, the employer-specific work permit is limited to the individual’s field and requires an LMIA in most cases along with a job offer. In many cases, the employers need an LMIA to be allowed to hire foreign temporary workers. The LMIA is required on top of the work permit. This means that although not all work permits require an LMIA, an LMIA alone is not enough to be able to work in Canada.

Steps towards obtaining LMIA

But what is the point of an LMIA? The assessment informs that there is a need for a temporary foreign worker at a job when no Canadians or permanent residents are available. When this is confirmed, a positive LMIA confirmation letter is issued, showing that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job. This needs to be obtained before applying for a work permit. The estimated processing fee for most LMIA applications is 10 days but it could take longer. However, more updated and accurate estimates can be obtained from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). In order to change employers, a new work permit must be obtained. The application fee is $1000. Not every applicant is the same and with that in mind, LMIA applications are processed through different pathways. One of the paths/streams is the high-wage LMIA stream. This is done under the Temporary Foreign Worker program (TFW) when the job in demand cannot be filled by a citizen or permanent resident of Canada. To qualify for this category, the job salary must be higher in comparison to the average wage of the province. If an applicant is applying for a high-wage LMIA in the province of Ontario and the average hourly wage in Ontario is $24, then an occupation with a wage higher than that would be considered under the low-wage LMIA. On the other hand, the second path is the low-wage LMIA. Like its name, this is for jobs that have a wage below the province’s average. In this case, an occupation with an hourly wage of less than $24 would fall under this category. The biggest difference between the two is that the high-wage LMIA application requires a Transition Plan to reduce reliance on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.


The LMIA application is completed by the employer/business owner. Therefore, the requirements rely on the business owner looking to hire temporary foreign workers. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) assesses businesses approved for LMIA to make sure that local workforce is indeed not available to carry out this occupation. With the low-wage LMIA application, there is a cap regarding the number of employees being hired and wages offered. Furthermore, the business owner must first advertise on the government of Canada’s Job Bank and conduct at least 2 additional recruitment methods. The job advertisement must have occurred 3 months prior to the LMIA submission for a minimum of 4 consecutive weeks. One of the main things that need to be considered for a high-wage LMIA is a Transition Plan. It should however, be noted that certain positions are exempt from this plan including caregiver, seasonal agricultural worker, and unique skills specific to an individual. If a transition plan has already been submitted for the same job and location, the results of the commitment made to the prior plan must be reported.

Jobs are classified as high or low-wage depending on the salary in comparison to the designated province’s median salary. Here is a guide to use as reference.

The list of median hourly wages by province is provided below:

Alberta $27.28
British Columbia $25.00
Manitoba $21.60
New Brunswick $20.12
Newfoundland and Labrador $23.00
Northwest Territories $34.36
Nova Scotia $20.00
Nunavut $32.00
Ontario $24.04
Prince Edward Island $20.00
Quebec $23.08
Saskatchewan $24.55
Yukon $30.00

Processing time

The estimated processing fee for certain LMIA applications is 10 days but it could take longer. However, more updated and accurate estimates can be obtained from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The low-wage stream has an average processing time of 54 business days.

Fees and Expenses

The LMIA application costs $1000. In order to change employers, a new work permit must be obtained and the application fee is $1000.


Rejection. Refusal. Damage control. These are things you hopefully would not face with hiring an immigration lawyer. Although hiring a lawyer is not required by law, the immigration process is difficult and often confusing. By consulting an immigration lawyer, you can put your mind at ease and let the professionals help you along the journey.