A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a vital part of the process when Canadian employers want to hire temporary foreign workers (TFW). Depending on the job and the industry sector, a positive LMIA must be issued before a TFW can apply for a temporary work permit. LMIA was formerly called a LMO (Labour Market Opinion).
When Canadian employers look for TFW, there’s often a pressing need to fill jobs that have been open for a while. So one of the biggest questions is “how long is the LMIA processing time?” It depends.
Certain high-skill jobs can qualify for LMIA processing of 10 business days. With most jobs that require a LMIA, however, the processing by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada can take much longer.
There are some steps employers can take to avoid delays in processing.
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A Complete Application
One of the primary influencers on LMIA processing time is how complete or correct the application is. The application form is quite detailed and for good reason. ESDC/Service Canada needs to be sure that hiring a TFW doesn’t take a job away from an eligible Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
In addition, the government needs to verify the employer has a legitimate business, there is an actual job available, and that the TFW is qualified to do that job.
The application specifies the appropriate documentation the employer must provide. If that documentation isn’t included with the application, it will be rejected.
Proof of Recruitment Efforts
Employers also need to prove that they made considerable effort to search for an eligible Canadian citizen or permanent resident who might be qualified for the job. There is a section on the application form where employers provide the details of their efforts. This means the attempts to find a suitable worker within Canada have to take place before applying for a LMIA.
Recent changes require employers to use the Government of Canada’s Job Bank as part of their search for a suitable worker. Within the first 30 days of posting the job, employers must invite candidates with certain rankings to apply for the open job.
The required ranking changes depending on whether the position is classified as a high-wage or low-wage. Without doing the proper recruitment, the employer risks ESDC/Service Canada rejecting the LMIA application.
ESDC/Service Canada has a few conditions where they will not consider a LMIA application. If an employer has been declared ineligible by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the application will be rejected. An employer could be deemed ineligible because of noncompliance, because of a past revoking of a LMIA, or because of nonpayment.
There are also some public policy reasons for a LMIA application to not be processed. For example, if there is a high unemployment rate in a region and an employer applies for a low-wage job LMIA in that region, the application won’t be considered.
The LMIA processing time can also be influenced by the number of applications ESDC/Service Canada receives. While employers can’t control the number of applicants, they can ensure that their own applications are complete and without error. Because the process is complicated and requires precise documentation, many employers hire immigration professionals to help them with their LMIA applications.
Immigration professionals are familiar with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and can help select the appropriate category for a LMIA application and ensure the correct documentation is in order.
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