Work in Canada - immigrate to Canada

About LMIA

What is LMIA?

LMIA is a letter which gives a Canadian employer permission to hire a foreign worker. LMIA is issued by Service Canada (part of the Canadian federal government) after Canadian employers apply for it following very strict guidelines set out by Service Canada.

Do all foreign workers need LMIA?

In very few situations LMIA is not required in order to work in Canada. In some rare situations even work permit is not needed for certain types of foreign workers in Canada. However those exceptional situations are so few that the average foreign worker can safely assume he or she will need LMIA and work permit if they want to work in Canada.

How difficult it is to obtain LMIA?

It was never easy to obtain LMIA (which used to be called LMO) and it became increasingly difficult to secure a positive LMIA after changes took place in 2014. Nowadays LMIA application packages normally consist of over 80 pages which includes all forms and supporting documents. Traditionally more LMIA applications have been approved than refused by Service Canada.

Can foreign workers apply for LMIA?

No. Only Canadian employers and/or their authorized representatives can apply for LMIA (foreign worker cannot be their authorized representative). Also Service Canada would not discuss employer's LMIA application with anyone else except with the employer or their authorized representative (if they have one). In some (very rare) situations employers apply for so called "Unnamed LMIA" when they even don't know who will be the foreign worker at the time of application. LMIA is valid for 6 months so they have 6 moths to find a foreign worker and attach foreign worker's name to that already approved LMIA.

Are Canadian employers willing to apply for LMIA for foreign workers?

As a foreign worker you must understand that there are many Canadian employers who do not know what LMIA is. It is in your interest either to explain LMIA application process to them or suggest that they contact immigration consultant who will answer their questions and explain the steps in the process. Please feel free to provide your prospective employers in Canada with my contact information (see CONTACT section of this web site). Thousands of Canadian employers apply for LMIA each year - how eager your potential employer will be to apply for LMIA for you is hard to say because it depends on many factors. Generally speaking Canadian employers are willing to apply for LMIA for foreign workers especially if, for example, an immigration consultant does most of the work for them.

Is LMIA application free?

Service Canada charges $1000 processing fee in most cases. Those employers who apply for LMIA for the sole purpose of supporting foreign national's Permanent Resident (PR) application do not have to pay $1000 Service Canada processing fee (however such LMIA cannot be used for work permit applications).

Can any employer apply for LMIA?

In theory any employer can apply for LMIA however not all employers will have the same success with their LMIA applications. Employers who already have several Canadians employed, who have been in business for several years, who run profitable business operation, who can clearly demonstrate need for more worker(s) and their failed effort to hire locally will be more likely to receive positive LMIA than employers who do not fit such profile.

Where can I learn more about LMIA applications?

You can check out official Service Canada web site or go to and get more useful information.

Work permits

Foreign nationals who want to work in Canada must be authorized to do so. Such authorization is called WORK PERMIT

EXCEPTION: there are very few exception to this rule, in other words you can assume it is almost certain you will need a work permit if you want to come to Canada as a foreign worker. In most situations foreign nationals are expected to apply for work permit while they are still outside Canada. In certain situations foreign nationals can apply for work permit at the border-crossing or at the airport when they arrive in Canada.

Those foreign nationals who are already in Canada as visitors and/or students can apply for their first work permit and remain in Canada for the duration of their already authorized stay however they have to apply for first work permit OUTSIDE Canada. Such application can be made online.

OPEN WORK PERMITS - in a very limited number of situations CIC or CBSA can issue an open work permit which means that foreign national who holds open work permit can work for (almost) any employer and in (almost) any occupation anywhere in Canada. Restrictions can be applied to open work permits as well.

EMPLOYER SPECIFIC WORK PERMITS - most work permits are employer specific (which means you can work only for the employer indicated on your work permit), occupation specific (which means you can work only in the occupation indicated on your work permit) and location specific (which means you are allowed to work only in a limited are of Canada, which is also indicated on the work permit.

STUDENT WORK PERMITS - in most situations students are also allowed to work while they study (limited work allowed) and after they graduate from their program (in that case they normally apply for and obtain so call Post-graduation Work Permit which is an open work permit).

WORK PERMIT AND REFUGEE CLAIMANTS - Persons seeking refugee protection in Canada can also (in most situations) obtain open work permit.

WORK PERMITS FOR SPOUSES OF FOREIGN WORKERS - In certain situations (when the first spouse already has work permit for skilled occupation or already work in skilled occupation, for example) their spouse can also apply for open work permit.

BRIDGING WORK PERMITS - a foreign national can apply for (usually open) work permit if they already submitted application for permanent resident status or they have received provincial nomination. This will allow they to continue working until they obtain permanent resident status in Canada.

VALIDITY OF WORK PERMIT - most work permit are valid for one or two years however in theory they can be extended indefinitely (in reality it does not happen often that work permit is extended more than once or twice).

WORK PERMIT AND RE-ENTRY INTO CANADA - the fact that you have your work permit does not mean that you are guaranteed re-entry into Canada. Border Services Officer (CBSA officer) must assess each time you leave and return to Canada whether you meet requirements set out in the legislation as it pertains to temporary residents of Canada.

COST OF WORK PERMIT APPLICATION - Processing fee for regular work permits is $155 and processing fee for open work permits is $255. Refugee claimants do not have to pay work permit processing fee.

HOW TO APPLY FOR WORK PERMIT? Foreign nationals can apply for work permit online, by sending paper application or at the Canadian border (in certain, limited situations).

FLAG-POLLING Application for work permit at the Canadian border is often referred to as flag-polling because foreign national only formally leaves Canada ("walks around the flag-poll") and upon return to Canada applies for their new work permit.

Permanent resident applications

It is not an exaggeration if we say that most if not all foreign workers come to Canada with a long-term goal of bringing their families and moving to Canada permanently. Canadian government is aware of that and for that reason dozens of different immigration programs exist which can be used by the foreign workers in Canada in order to gain Permanent Resident (PR) status in Canada.

Some of those program are federal programs such as Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker or Federal Skilled Trades programs. Similar program exists also in the province of Quebec which is very good option for French speaking foreign workers. Then each province and territory in Canada has its own "small" immigration programs and without exception all of them have streams for foreign workers.

There are many ways (many immigration programs) available to the foreign workers which can be used on their path towards permanent residency in Canada. It is certainly very good idea to plan ahead and to look for work permit in the right province and also in the right occupation before you come to Canada and start working. Most of the above mentioned programs are aimed at so called skilled occupations (those are occupations that normally require substantial training/education after high-school graduation).

Quite possibly looking for work in Canada and later on looking for ways to obtain Permanent Resident status in Canada is the best way to immigrate to Canada for vast majority of would-be immigrants to Canada.

I often receive e-mails asking me to quickly assess someone's chances of successful immigration to Canada. In many situations my answer is this: if you manage to obtain work permit in Canada chances are you will also find a way to stay in Canada permanently!


In Canada very often one can see headlines like this:

Unfortunately there is a lot of illegal activity surrounding Canadian immigration and especially foreign workers. Why is that? The answer is simple: there is a lot of money involved and some unscrupulous people in Canada and outside Canada take advantage of foreign nationals who often desperately try to reach Canada and start new life here.

Make no mistake - Canadian citizens too are victims of similar scams however potential Canadian foreign workers are especially vulnerable.

Be careful with job offers for jobs in Canada!

On should know that it is illegal to charge anyone, including foreign nationals outside Canada, for securing job in Canada for them. What that means is this: if you receive an e-mail and someone tells you "I know a company that is desperately looking for hotel staff, they pay very good salary and they will arrange all paperwork for you. You only have to pay XYZ amount and everything will be ok, you will get your visa and work permit very quickly" this person is lying to you and they will take your money and you will, most likely, end up with nothing more than broken promises, maybe a couple of forged documents and a lot of false explanations why everything did not work out.

Of course in real life there are many different scenarios in which illegal actions can take place and this is only one of them, very simplified and very crude scheme. There are many more out there much more sophisticated however the bottom line here is this: if you want to work in Canada contact Canadian employers directly and try to arrange Skype interview. If someone else, total stranger, tells you they will arrange work in Canada for you it is more than likely you will become yet another immigration fraud statistic.

If something appears to be too good to be true most likely it is not true.

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