LMIA-Exempt Canadian Work Permits

Canada has a very demanding labour market and to meet the shortages, the country offers work permits to foreigners seeking employment in the country. 

In as much as, Canada opens its arms to welcome the foreign labor force, it also protects Canadian workers’ jobs through the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Before employers in Canada hire foreign workers, they must get an LMIA. A positive LMIA indicates that an employer has made attempts to find a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position but failed and so needs to hire a foreign national instead.

Most Canadian work permits require an LMIA document but some are LMIA- exempt. Follow us as we will be discussing everything on LMIA-exempt Canadian work permits. 

LMIA-Exempt Canadian Work Permits

LMIA work permits are employer-specific work permits that detail certain aspects of your employment in Canada, such as your employer and the location of your job. 

Applying for an LMIA is usually a long, time-consuming process and because of the stress, employers are a bit hesitant to employ foreign workers. 

LMIA-exempt work permits on the other hand restrict you to a specific occupation and employer but do not require an LMIA.

As a skilled worker, you will be more likely to gain employment from Canadian employers if you meet the requirements for an LMIA-exempt Canadian work permit. Your chances will be higher if you; 

  • Have been working full-time or part-time for the employer on your work visa for at least a year
  • You have a valid work visa and a job offer that is not subject to the LMIA because of an international agreement
  • Your occupation falls under the Canadian interests category, a federal-provincial accord.

LMIA Work Permit

With this work permit, you are limited to working for a particular empower and at a specific job location. The requirements for an LMIA Work Permit include:

  • A valid contract
  • A job offer letter
  • A copy of the LMIA
  • The LMIA number

Canadian Work Permits

There are 3 types of Canadian work permits. They are

  • Closed Work Permits

This type of permit is issued to a foreigner to work at a particular employer and for a particular position that is listed on the LMIA. Closed work permits require a positive LMIA otherwise called a confirmation letter. 

  • Open Work Permits

An open work permit allows foreign workers to work for any employer, in any position, and anywhere in Canada. Open work permits do not require an LMIA and you do not need to have a job offer to apply. 

  • Closed LMIA-exempt Work Permits

This type of work permit allows foreign workers to work for a specific employer and in a specific position but does not require an LMIA. 

Read More: Free French Learning & Getting Paid In Quebec, Canada – Who Is Eligible?

Job Exempt From The LMIA

1. Significant Benefit

If your employer is able to demonstrate that you will bring a significant social, cultural, or economic benefit to Canada, you may be exempted. Like:

  • Creative and performing artists
  • Self-employed engineers
  • Technical workers
  • Intra-company transferees with specialized knowledge 
  • Workers under Mobilité francophone

These workers will contribute to the Canadian economy through their specialized skills, knowledge, and experience

2. Reciprocal Employment

This type of exemption gives foreign workers the opportunity to work in specific industries in Canada where Canadians in other countries have similar opportunities. For instance:

  • Professional athletes and coaches working with Canadian teams
  • Professors, guest lecturers, and students participating in exchange programs

3. Entrepreneurs & Self-Employed

This category of people may be exempted. Entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals who wish to run a business in Canada need to show that their business would contribute greatly to the economic, social, and cultural growth of the nation. 

4. Intra-Company Transferees

Companies with branches in Canada can temporarily transfer employees to a Canadian branch without requiring an LMIA.

5. French-Speaking Skilled Workers

If you are a French-speaking skilled worker with a valid job offer in a province or territory outside of Quebec, you may be exempted from having an LMIA.

6. International Trade Agreements

International Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) like The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) make provisions for businesspeople to work temporarily in the signed countries. 

Although foreign workers covered by an International Trade Agreement require a closed work permit, they do not require an LMIA. 

7. International Youth Exchange Programs

There are a variety of international youth exchange programs that Canada participates in. These programs allow youths to travel and work in Canada without an LMIA. 

The Young Professionals category of International Experience Canada for instance is designed especially for young individuals with a job offer in Canada to contribute to their professional development.  

8. Minister-Designated Exemptions

The Minister-designated exemptions apply to specific circumstances and are at the discretion of the Minister of Immigration. Some examples include;

  • Researchers, academics, guest lecturers, and visiting professors sponsored through a recognized federal program
  • Medical residents and fellows
  • Post-doctoral fellows and people who have won academic awards from Canadian institutions

9. Charity And Religious Work

This exemption is given to people visiting for charity and religious purposes. However, it does not include volunteers. 

Read Also: Temporary Resident To Permanent Resident Pathway

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Work Permit Is Exempt From LMIA?

An open work permit. This permit allows foreigners to work in any position, for any employer, anywhere in Canada and since they are not employer-specific, they do not require an LMIA. 

Can I Get A Work Permit In Canada Without LMIA?

The International Mobility Program (IMP) allows employers to hire temporary workers without an LMIA. 

How Long Does LMIA Exempt Work Permit Take?

If you meet all of these requirements the processing could take up to 2 weeks to complete.

What Does It Mean To Be LMIA Exempt?

To be LMIA-exempt is to be able to obtain temporary employment from a Canadian employer. 

What Is The Fastest Way To Get A Work Permit In Canada?

The fastest way to get a work permit in Canada is through the Global Skills Strategy (GSS). It offers two-week processing times on eligible work permit applications.

Can You Buy LMIA?

Yes, you can but it is illegal. LMIA used to be sold for $25,000 and the vendors pose as immigration consultants.

How Much Does It Cost To Get LMIA In Canada?

Each Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application has a processing fee of CDN $1,000 and a CDN $100 Privilege Fee is also required.

Who Needs LMIA In Canada?

Employers of temporary foreign workers are required to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before the worker applies for a work permit. 

Can I Stay In Canada While Waiting For A Work Permit?

Certainly. You can stay in Canada while waiting for your work permit. This is called maintained status.

Does LMIA Guarantee A Work Permit?

A positive LMIA is proof that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job


An LMIA is a document from Employment and Social Development Canada that gives an employer permission to hire a temporary worker.

Almost all Canadian work permits require an LMIA work permit which restricts foreign workers to a specific employer and a specific position in Canada. 

However, LMIA-exempt Canadian work permits allow foreign workers to work for a specific employer and a specific position without needing an LMIA. 

Above we have listed some ob exempts from the LMIA. You can check to see if you qualify for any of the exemptions. 

Has this article been of help? Kindly drop any questions and comments you may have in the section below. 

Leave a Comment