How Can Companies in Canada Hire Skilled Overseas Workers?

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With its strong economy, high standard of living, and accommodating immigration regulations, Canada has become a popular destination for job seekers and businesses looking for competent professionals from all over the world.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, the labour shortage costs the country billions of dollars every year. Therefore, Canadian companies are looking into recruiting skilled foreign workers, bringing in new talent, and filling skill gaps in numerous industries such as technology, healthcare, and engineering.

Canadian firms resort to international recruiting, aggressively seeking qualified individuals from other countries. Canada Immigration News reported that the number of work permits awarded to foreign employees has climbed by 52% since 2021, with specialized jobs accounting for a large share of these permits.

Let’s discuss how companies in Canada can effectively hire skilled overseas workers.

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Bringing International Talent to Canada

There are three ways to hire a foreign worker to work for you in Canada.

Employing through Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Work Permit

Employers in Canada can hire overseas employees using Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Work Permits. Employers must get an LMIA for this type of work visa, which examines the impact of hiring a foreign worker on the Canadian labour market. If your foreign worker does not qualify for an exemption, you must go through the LMIA process to get a work visa for them. Foreign employees with an LMIA work permit can often stay in Canada for up to 18 months.

Work Permits Exempt from LMIA Requirements

The LMIA requirement does not apply to certain employment categories. You may not need an LMIA if the job description of your foreign worker fits inside one of the exemption categories. This exemption category streamlines the hiring procedure for overseas workers, allowing them to work in Canada for up to 24 months.

Working Legally in Canada without a Work Permit

It’s essential to realize that not all foreign employees in Canada require a work visa. Several occupations, such as civil aviation inspectors, athletes, are exempt from the need for a work permit.

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Steps to Hire a Temporary Foreign Worker

Here are some steps that every company needs to follow when hiring a foreign worker.

Step 1: Determine if Your Company Requires an LMIA

Before beginning the recruiting process, you must determine if your organization requires a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which most firms need. However, there are several exceptions where an LMIA is not required. Employers must instead submit an offer of employment for LMIA-exempt roles through their Employer Portal on the IRCC website.

Step 2: Apply for an LMIA or Submit an LMIA-Exempt Offer of Employment

The employment of foreign labour might take a long time, depending on the job position. It usually takes 3 to 6 months to apply for a work permit that requires an LMIA.

An LMIA-exempt work permit, on the other hand, can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months to process, assuming all relevant paperwork is in place. Positions that do not require a work permit can be filled quickly since they often entail acquiring a valid visa.

Step 3: The Foreign Worker Applies for a Work Permit

Once the business has received an authorized LMIA or an LMIA-exempt offer of employment, the foreign worker must apply for a work visa. Many work permits are available for foreign nationals seeking employment in Canada, and choosing the right one is essential for the application’s success and processing time.

To guarantee a fast and compliant immigration application, many businesses and workers hire immigration lawyers.

Step 4: Inform the Worker about Application Expectations and Ensure Compliance

The business must communicate with the employee about what to expect during the work permit application process. Informing them about the necessary paperwork, expected processing time, interviews, and medical tests will help them prepare effectively.

Furthermore, once the worker is in Canada, it is critical to guarantee compliance with the job conditions and legal requirements. Noncompliance with these requirements may affect your capacity to hire foreign workers.

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Understanding Labour Market Impact Assessment

The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a requirement for the immigration system in Canada. It is a document released by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that attempts to defend Canadian employees’ interests and guarantee that employing a foreign worker does not jeopardize job possibilities for Canadians or permanent residents.


The LMIA procedure entails a detailed examination of the employer’s employment offer, including salaries, working conditions, and efforts to hire Canadian employees. The goal is to establish whether a foreign worker is actually needed to fill the role. The evaluation considers criteria such as the availability of Canadian employees with the necessary skills and credentials, the influence on Canadian workers’ salaries and working conditions, and the general labour market circumstances in the individual region or industry.

It includes the job offer, recruitment activities, and the employer’s capacity to satisfy the terms and conditions of employment. The ESDC evaluates the application based on the program requirements and decides whether or not an LMIA will be awarded.

Understanding LMIA-Exempt Work Permits

LMIA-Exempt permits are work permits in Canada that do not require companies to go through the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) procedure. These work permits allow the hiring of foreign workers in instances where the impact on the Canadian labour market is assessed to be negligible or non-existent.

These are offered to some categories of workers.

International Trade Agreements

Canada has signed international trade agreements that provide LMIA exemptions, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Certain professionals, business travellers, and intra-company transferees can get work permits under these agreements without needing an LMIA.

Intra-Company Transfers

Companies having a Canadian presence may transfer staff from a foreign branch or subsidiary to work in Canada. These intra-company transfers qualify for LMIA-Exempt work permits if certain qualifications are satisfied, such as the employee has worked for the firm for a certain amount of time and holds specialist expertise or managerial/executive abilities.

International Experience Canada (IEC)

The IEC program permits young people from selected nations to work temporarily and visit Canada. Participants can get an LMIA-Exempt work visa by applying under an IEC category such as Working Holiday, Young Professionals, or International Co-op.

Spousal Sponsorship Work Permits

Spouses or common-law partners of certain work permit or study permit holders in Canada may be eligible for an LMIA-Exempt open work permit, which allows them to work for any employer in Canada without requiring a job offer or an LMIA.

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Benefits of Hiring Foreign Workers

Here are some main advantages of hiring foreign workers.

Filling the Skill Gap

Hiring foreign employees enables your businesses to solve skill and labour shortages across several industries. Foreign workers provide a wide range of skills, certifications, and experiences that are in demand but in short supply in the Canadian labour market. Your company may gain access to the expertise required to boost productivity and competitiveness by tapping into global talent pools.

Increased Workforce Diversity

A more varied staff can create a more dynamic and livelier work environment. It fosters an environment of acceptance, gratitude, and equality for all employees. Workforce diversity may also boost employee morale and engagement by making people feel appreciated and involved, increasing productivity and retention.

Knowledge Transfer and Capacity Building

Foreign employees may have specialized knowledge, skills, and practices from their home countries or past work experiences that can be essential for your business. For example, if you want to tap into the market in Mexico, you may hire someone from Mexico with market knowledge. This information transfer can help your other employees by exposing them to new techniques, technologies, and industry trends.

How Long Does the Process Takes?

The time it takes to bring a foreign worker to Canada can range from two weeks to a year, depending on factors including the necessity for a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and the individual work permit type. If an LMIA is necessary, the process might take several weeks to months. Working with a professional immigration lawyer can help expedite the process and minimize processing time, ensuring your foreign worker begins work as soon as possible.

Hiring an Experienced Immigration Lawyer in Canada

Want to expedite the process? Our immigration lawyers in Canada can help your company. Contact our team of skilled immigration lawyers, who can offer expert advice and support throughout the process of bringing foreign employees to Canada. We can help simplify the immigration procedure, providing work visa information and extending work permits. Book a consultation!


Disclaimer: Please note that this blog is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice.


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