Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Exemptions

In certain cases, foreign workers in Canada are exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement. These are the most common conditions under which Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will waive the LMIA process for a Canadian work permit application:

Coverage under International Agreements

This category facilitates Canadian work permits for investors, traders, business visitors, and other professionals covered under agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Under such international agreements, the transfer of labour has been deemed a benefit to Canada, thus exempting the need for an LMIA.

Participation in an International Exchange Program

Also exempt are those entering Canada through youth exchanges such as SWAP (Student Work Abroad Program), IEC (International Experience Canada), and the Working Holiday Visa, teacher exchanges, and other joint exchange programs.

Entrepreneurial Endeavours

Private entrepreneurs wishing to start or operate a business in Canada may qualify for an LMIA-exempt work permit. Eligible entrepreneurs must meet these criteria:

  • have sole or majority ownership of the company,
  • the business should significantly benefit Canada, and
  • they must demonstrate that work performed in Canada will be temporary (for example, seasonal business owners).

Entrepreneurs who have applied for Canadian permanent resident status may also qualify for LMIA exemption.

Intra-company Transfers

A Labour Market Impact Assessment is unnecessary when a foreign subsidiary or branch of a Canadian company temporarily transfers an employee to Canada in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge position. Foreign employees are also exempt if their work in Canada can demonstrably benefit citizens or permanent residents.

Spousal/Dependant Relationships

You may be exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment requirement if your spouse or common-law partner is a full-time international student or a skilled foreign worker in a particular field. Also exempt are the sponsored spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens. Other dependants may also be exempt, such as the children of foreign workers with valid work permits. Spouses of Working Holiday Visa-holders are not eligible, however.

Consult a Canadian immigration lawyer to determine whether your situation qualifies.

Pilot Project Work Permits

A pilot project is an agreement between the provincial/territorial government and CIC in order to encourage temporary foreign workers in certain fields. These agreements also apply to the spouses, common-law partners, and dependants of eligible workers.

Provincial Nomination

No Labour Market Impact Assessment is necessary for workers nominated by a province or (in Qu├ębec) selected for permanent residence, provided that they have a job offer in the province where they hold their certificate of nomination/selection.

Academic Work

Certain academics may be exempt from an LMIA, including researchers, visiting professors, and guest lecturers.

Co-op Work Placements

An international student whose program incorporates a co-op work placement or internship may not require an LMIA.

Religious Work

Charitable or religious work for a recognised organisation or institution may be exempt from an LMIA.


LMIA exemptions may be available for refugee claimants and other individuals who need to support themselves while in Canada.

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