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How to work in Canada without an LMIA?

Austin Campbell




Some foreigners who are seeking temporary work in Canada may do so without receiving a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). An LMIA is a document demanded by the Canadian government from an employer who is hiring foreign nationals in Canada. This is a part of the hiring process to recruit temporary internationals under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). However, Canada permits a few foreign nationals to also work here without having an LMIA for broad economic, social, and cultural policy reasons.

The International Mobility Program (IMP) under the category of Canadian interests outlines four main streams, that Canada permits. Here’s a brief introduction to the four common ways in Canada without an LMIA;

Competitiveness and Public Policy

The first stream intends to provide foreign nationals with work permits if they are performing duties that require limited access to the Canadian labour market. The most prominent non-LMIA program Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program falls within the stream.

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The PGWP program within the Canadian interests category provides international students to work for a Canadian employer of their choice without an existing job offer at the time of application.

Significant Benefit

The other way for someone who can work in Canada without an LMIA is to have a significant benefit work permit.


The Significant Benefit Work Permits (SBWPs) are special work permits available to workers whose hire would significantly benefit Canada economically, culturally, or socially. It is important for Canadian government officials to consider the effects on Canadian workers when determining whether to allow them entry into the country.

Foreign workers who offer valuable economic, social, or cultural advantages to Canada might have the option to work in Canada on a work permit without the business expecting to get an LMIA. More importantly, an LMIA requirement can be postponed under a ‘significant benefit’ exclusion.

To qualify under this, the Canadian government provides the following criteria for a significant benefit work permit:

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  • Official record of educational credentials like degree/diploma/certificate from a college.
  • Proof of full-time job experience from current or previous employers.
  • Must have received national or international awards or patents.
  • Proof of membership in organizations needing excellence of its members. 
  • Must have judged the work of others
  • Proof of significant achievements and contributions to the government/professional/business fields.
  • Scientific or scholarly additions to the foreign national field.
  • Proof of academic or Industry authored publications
  • Applicant’s leading role in a reputed organization

Some of the most common recipients of an SBWP include: Intra-Company Workers, Television and Film Production Workers, Business and Self-Employed Workers, Emergency Repair Workers

Reciprocal Employment

Another route to work in Canada without acquiring an LMIA includes reciprocal employment. Under the category, internationals get employment opportunities in Canada, similar to that being offered to Canadians working outside.

The prime objective of the category is to offer work permits to foreign nationals. Through this, they will be able to perform duties in Canada and reciprocate by creating or maintaining international employment relations. The creation will further offer work opportunities in other countries around the globe.


Charitable and Religious Workers

The stream provides foreign work permit applicants coming to Canada aiming to conduct duties of a religious or charitable nature, that too without an LMIA. The stream also encompasses work that is conducted to relieve poverty, advance education, or provide benefits. The country interprets charitable work as;

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  • Organizations registered as charities with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
  • Volunteer charitable workers do not need a work permit
  • Standard charitable workers need a work permit but remain LMIA-exempt


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