How to get an LMIA Work Permit?

Woman and man at work

Since I started practicing in the immigration field, the most common question people ask is: “Can you get me an LMIA work permit?” My answer is always: “No, this is not how it works”.

Today I would like to explain the principles behind the LMIA so you could learn the process of getting an LMIA work permit. If you know all these rules, you won’t be easily deceived by ghost consultants trying to sell you the paperwork.

I will define what an LMIA is, the steps of obtaining one and who should hire a representative and pay for their services.

What is LMIA?

LMIA stands for Labour Market Impact Assessment. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) evaluates if there is a shortage in the labour market for a certain position and if hiring a foreign worker would affect Canadians and permanent residents negatively.

A “positive LMIA” means that ESDC gives an employer a permission to hire a foreign worker. An LMIA might or might not have names of workers on it, depending on the situation.

Steps to take to obtain an LMIA Work Permit

The whole process is quite long and complex. First, you need to advertise for a position. Second, if you weren’t able to find Canadians or permanent residents for the job, you apply for an LMIA to ESDC. Third, if you get a positive LMIA, the foreign worker that you made a job offer to sends their documents to IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) in order to get an actual Work Permit. Let’s discuss each step in more detail.

Step one. Recruitment

An employer, who needs to hire a worker, must advertise their job opening while complying with multiple ESDC rules. The employer might do it themselves, hire a recruitment agency, immigration consultant or lawyer. Depending on the province, recruitment might or might not require a specific licence. So, depending on location, an immigration representative has a right to do the recruitment if they are licensed to do so or if a licence is not required, such as in Alberta.

The recruitment process must run for at least 4 weeks and continue while the LMIA application is being processed. The ad must be published in three sources minimum, with one of them,, being mandatory. The employer must also have proof of complying with advertising  requirements set by ESDC.

Step two. LMIA Application

Provided that the recruitment wasn’t successful, the employer or their representative prepares the LMIA application package. The list of documents may differ depending on the position type. It will definitely include the application form, proof of recruitment efforts as well as business/employer documentation.

ESDC studies the paperwork for a couple of months and comes to a decision on whether a positive LMIA should be granted.

Step three. Work Permit

With a positive LMIA, a foreign worker or their representative prepares the application package for IRCC. The application will include the IRCC forms, positive LMIA, job offer, proof of qualifications and ties to home country, medical examination results and other documents. The processing times depend on the country but it generally takes several weeks.

Hiring an immigration representative to obtain an LMIA

It is employers who are responsible for the process of recruitment and applying for an LMIA. Thus, they hire representatives to assist them with these steps and are fully responsible for all the fees. Employers are prohibited from asking workers to reimburse these payments.

When it comes to submitting an application for a work permit, a worker might opt to hire an immigration representative as well. Workers are responsible for these fees but employers might suggest to cover the expenses out of good faith.

Did you learn something new from the article? Did you come across people misusing the LMIA process? Please comment below.

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