LMIA Processing Time: Temporary Foreign Worker Program 2019 Changes
The Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) has been under intense media coverage over the last few months.
The Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) is one of the changes still in effect in 2019.
In most cases, employers require government approval before hiring a foreign worker now called a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). An LMIA is issued by Service Canada in cases where a Canadian employer is unable to fill the position with a local Canadian worker. The main means of demonstrating this is though advertising the jobs in Canada and making efforts to hire Canadians, proving that the applicants are not qualified for the position offered.
The LMIA Letter
Once an employer applies for the LMIA, he or she will await a document of approval from Employment and Social Development Canada. This document is known as a positive LMIA (sometimes referred to as a confirmation letter) confirming there is a need to hire a foreign worker for the job in question, and that there are no Canadians to fill the position. Once the employer receives the LMIA, the potential employee can apply for a work permit as long as he or she has a job offer letter, a contract, a copy of the LMIA, and the LMIA number.
More Details about LMIAs and the Recent Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
The application fee for LMIA requests is now $1000 per worker, an increase from the $275 per worker fee for LMOs.
Under the new LMIA system job positions are to be be divided into just two categories: high-wage and low-wage. Jobs are considered high wage if the salary meets or exceeds the median wage in the province where the job will be performed, and low-wage if the salary is below the median.
How Long is the Processing Time for LMIAs and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program?
LMIA processing times can be somewhat unpredictable, and the LMIA process can range from a couple of weeks, to a few months. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has pledged to process certain LMIA applications within 10 business days. The following categories will now be processed with a 10-business-day service standard:
- All LMIA applications for the highest-demand occupations (skilled trades)
- Highest-paid (top 10%) occupations
- Short-duration work periods (120 days or less)
Types of LMIAs Needed When Applying for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
For high-wage positions, the LMIA process is much like that of the old LMO. However, a few major changes have been made:
- The application forms have changed from the old LMOs and are more extensive
- Employers must complete a ‘transition plan’ that will explain how they intend to permanently fill the job being held by the temporary foreign worker
- Employers are required to keep more detailed records during the foreign worker’s stay in Canada
- Certain applications will be processed more quickly. Foreign workers in skilled trades, high paid workers with salaries in the top 10% of Canadian earnings, and workers coming for 120 days or less will all receive LMIA decisions in 10 business days
- A new time limit for high-wage work permits may be imposed, but has not yet been announced
The procedures and criteria involved for Low-Wage LMIAs are somewhat different than for High-Wage LMIAs. More restrictions are imposed on low-wage job offers than on high-wage, as shown by the following:
- Positive LMIAs for low-wage jobs will now allow employers to hire a foreign worker for only one year at a time
- For organizations with more than 10 employees, low-wage foreign workers can make up no more than 10% of the work force
- Transitional measures will apply to employers whose work forces do not comply with this new rule
- Employers in the accommodation and food service sector as well as the retail trade sector will no longer be allowed to apply for LMIAs for jobs in 10 lower-skill occupations
- As with high-wage LMIA applications, employers must now pay a higher application fee, complete longer application forms, and keep detailed records about their recruitment practices
Do All Job Offers to TFWP Applicants Require an LMIA?
As in the case of the old LMOs, Canadian employers can recruit some TFWs without an LMIA. The following are categories where work permits are LMIA exempt:
- Workers covered under the NAFTA agreement [NAFTA is under revision. NAFTA will most likely turn into the USMCA (United States Mexico Canada Agreement). USMCA is expected to be approved in the beginning of 2019. Until then NAFTA will remain active and the visas under NAFTA are still available. Learn more about how to work under USMCA. ]
- Intra-Company Transferees
- International Experience Canada participants (also known as Working Holiday permit holders)
- Post-Graduate work permit holders
- Bridging Open Work Permit holders
- Participants in certain academic exchanges such as post-doctoral fellows and visiting professors
- Programs such as those above have now been reclassified as ‘International Mobility Programs’
In addition, beginning in summer 2015 employers hiring through some International Mobility Programs must have their job offers approved by a Canadian visa office before their hired employees can request a work permit. The processing fee for the job offer approval application will be $230.
Do You Need Help With an LMIA or Temporary Work Permit Application?
Our immigration professionals are standing by to assist with your LMIA and Temporary Work Permit Applications. If you are an employer or a Temporary Foreign Worker, you can contact us directly by filling out a FREE online assessment and we will get back to you within 24 hours. You may also book a consultation if you know you would like our guidance through the LMIA process.
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