Without an LMIA, work in Canada in the Canadian interests category

COMMON WAYS TO WORK IN CANADA WITHOUT AN LMIA: Recognize how a foreign worker seeking a short-term job in Canada can achieve their aim without requiring an LMIA. Some foreigners who are seeking temporary employment in Canada may do so without first getting a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).



The Canadian government requires an LMIA when an employer wants to engage a foreign worker because of a labor shortage. However, due to general economic, social, and cultural policy considerations, Canada also permits some foreign nationals to work here without needing an LMIA. The Canadian interests category of the International Mobility Program (IMP), which has four streams and is described below, is one way Canada permits this to occur.

Stream 1: Competitiveness and Public Policy

The competitiveness and public policy stream’s intended goal is to grant work permits to foreign nationals if they are carrying out tasks that necessitate restricted access to the Canadian labor market and are required from a public policy standpoint in order to try and maintain the competitiveness of Canada’s academic institutions and/or economy.

This stream includes the most well-known non-LMIA program in the entire work permit sector. The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) scheme is the one in dispute.

The PGWP is a program that falls under the category of Canadian interests that offers foreign students who complete an acceptable program at any recognized educational institution in Canada an open work permit for up to three years to work for any recognized Canadian employer of their choice without an existing work authorization.

Although the duration of a permit may be up to three years under this scheme, the actual duration will depend on how long the applicant’s educational program was when they graduated. This program is notable since it is the one through which Canada annually issues the majority of its non-LMIA work permits.

A program that grants open work permits to spouses and common-law partners of full-time students and foreign nationals who have immigrated to Canada as skilled workers is also a part of the competitiveness and public policy stream.

Stream 2: Significant Benefit

The second option to work in Canada without an LMIA is to have your job recognized as having a significant positive social or cultural impact on this nation. Work permits are issued to foreign employees under this stream if they intend to carry out tasks that assist Canadian citizens and permanent residents, either by establishing or maintaining advantages that are social, cultural, or economic in character, or by opening up new opportunities for Canadians.

The definition of “significant advantage” is generally based on professional recommendations from those who work in the same industry as the foreign national requesting a work visa. However, in addition to these recommendations, Canada will also consider the following objective criteria, including the applicant’s prior record of accomplishment, to assess the applicant’s capacity to benefit Canada through their work.

  1. An official academic record showing that the foreign national has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar achievement from a learning institution relating to their area of work
  2. Evidence from current or former employers showing that the applicant has 10 or more years of experience in the occupation for which they are coming to Canada
  3. Whether the applicant has been the recipient of any national or international awards or patents
  4. Evidence of the applicant’s membership in organizations requiring excellence of its members
  5. Whether the applicant has ever been the judge of the work of others
  6. Evidence of the applicant receiving recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the field by peers, governmental organizations, or professional or business associations
  7. Evidence of an applicant’s scientific or scholarly contributions to the field
  8. Any work authored by the applicant in academic or industry publications
  9. Whether the applicant has held a leading role in an organization with a distinguished reputation

The programs that are part of the IMP’s considerable benefit stream are described in more detail below.

Self-employed/Entrepreneurs: Individuals looking to launch or run a business in Canada. In this situation, the applicant must be the single or principal shareholder of the Canadian company and demonstrate that there would be a large benefit to Canada from the enterprise.

Intra-Firm Transfers: People applying for work permits under the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) program who intend to work in Canada for a foreign employer’s parent company, subsidiary, or Canadian branch

Entrepreneurial PNP Nominees: Anyone who might be nominated under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and immigrate to Canada

See Also: Express Entry: The Easiest Way to Migrate to Canada

Stream 3: Reciprocal Employment

As a result of comparable options being made available to Canadians working overseas, there is a third route for foreign nationals to work in Canada without an LMIA.

In other words, the goal of the reciprocal employment stream is to grant work permits to foreign nationals who will be working in Canada in a way that will help establish or maintain relationships with other nations and, as a result, open up job opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents in other nations.

Under this stream, foreign nationals seeking employment in Canada may do so without obtaining an LMIA as a result of international agreements and programs for international exchange that benefit both foreign nationals seeking employment in Canada and Canadians who were born abroad who are employed in other nations.

International Agreements: As a result of the existence of international agreements like the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as of 2020, Canadians are given some reciprocal employment opportunities in a variety of foreign countries. As a result, the entry of foreign workers into Canada under these accords is seen as having a large positive impact on the nation, making the LMIA requirement unnecessary for qualified foreign individuals.

International exchange programs: Initiatives like International Experience Canada (IEC) exist to give Canadians the chance to prosper by living abroad. In situations like this, an LMIA is not necessary for foreign citizens applying through the IMP from nations that uphold functioning relations with Canada.

Stream 4: Charitable and Religious Workers

Last but not least, under the charity and religious workers stream, Canada offers foreign workers with work permits who are traveling to the country with the intention of performing tasks “of a religious or charitable nature” the chance to do so without an LMIA.

Canada defines philanthropic and religious work as the following for these purposes. Charitable work is any activity carried out with the intention of reducing poverty, increasing education, or benefiting the community in some other way.

Here are some important points regarding how Canada views charitable work:

  • Organizations registered as charities with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are seen as more credible regarding being viewed as truly “charitable in nature”
  • Volunteer charitable workers do not need a work permit
  • Standard charitable workers need a work permit but remain LMIA-exempt

Religious work: Work in which the foreign national candidate must “be a member of, or share the beliefs of the specific religious community where they wish to work, or have the capacity to teach or share other religious beliefs”

Note: The applicant’s work must “reflect a particular religious aim,” such as promoting a specific religion or offering religious instruction.


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