The general rule is that individuals applying for a Canadian work permit require a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly called a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). However, there are a number of exemptions to this rule. The group of programs that are exempt from the LMIA requirement are called International Mobility Programs.
Canada also has bilateral and multilateral agreements with certain countries in order to facilitate the movement of foreign workers across borders.
The following individuals are exempt from requiring a Labour Market Opinion:
· Workers covered under international agreements
o For example, NAFTA Work Permits. The North America Free Trade Agreement allows professionals and investors to obtain work permits without a labor market opinion.
· Dependents (spouses and children) of Foreign Workers holding a Canadian work permit for a skilled position.
o Please note that this does not apply to the spouses of working holiday visa holders.
· Provincial Nominees
o Individuals holding a certificate of nomination or selection (in the case of Quebec) who have a job offer in the province where they were nominated/selected do not require a labor market opinion. The Canadian federal government is re-negotiating LMO/LMIA exemptions with the provinces and territories during 2014, so provincial nominees may be subject to LMIAs in the future.
· Intra-company Transferees
o Foreign workers who have worked for a branch/subsidiary/parent of a Canadian company abroad and who are coming to Canada in a managerial/specialized knowledge position do not need a labor market opinion.
· Participants in programs such as the Working Holiday Visa program or (IEC)
· PhD students pursuing a post-doctoral fellowship at a Canadian university
o This exemption applies not only to individuals who studied and were granted a PhD from a Canadian university, but for any individual on a post-doctoral fellowship at an institution in Canada, regardless of the country where they studied.
· Co-op students
o Where a work placement or internship is part of the field of study, the foreign student does not need to obtain a labor market opinion.
· Religious Workers
o Foreign workers in Canada who are working for a charitable organization or religious institution.
· Spouses and common-law partners of full-time foreign students are eligible for open work permits (not requiring a job offer or a labor market opinion).
o This category also applies to the spouses and common-law partners of Canadians who have sponsored them in Canada and who have obtained approval of the Canadian sponsor.
Note: Being exempt from the LMIA requirement does not mean you are exempt from a work permit. All categories on the LMIA exemption list still require the individual to obtain a work permit to legally work in Canada.
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