Work permit options to bring foreign employees to Canada without needing to do the LMIA process.
You might be able to hire a temporary foreign worker without doing a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), or even bring people to work in Canada without a work permit if they fall under one of these exemptions.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has a work permit program called the International Mobility Program (IMP), which exists to promote the country’s social, economic, and cultural interests. These work permits are LMIA-exempt because the government has determined that the foreign worker’s work would be a “significant benefit” to Canada, or the exemption falls under a reciprocal agreement between Canada and the foreign worker’s nation.
If your hiring situation falls under one of IRCC’s LMIA exemption codes or a work permit exemption, you will not need to undergo the LMIA process. Before you hire a foreign workers under the IMP, you will need to pay an employer compliance fee and submit an offer of employment through IRCC’s Employer Portal.
Quebec employers do not need a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) in order to hire through the IMP.
Here are some of Canada’s LMIA-exempt work permit and work permit exempt programs.
Intra Company Transfer (ICT)
Multinational companies may be able to send key staff to work at their Canadian location through an Intra Company Transfer (ICT).
This option is available to companies that have a parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate location that is operational in Canada. It is not enough to just have a physical location.
Also, the occupation in Canada may only be for executives and senior managers, functional managers, or an employee who can demonstrate specialized knowledge of the company’s products, services, processes and procedures.
Citizens of the U.S. and Mexico can get Canadian work permits under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
Formerly known as NAFTA, CUSMA allows for Canada, the U.S., and Mexico to exchange talent without the need for LMIAs.
There are four categories of temporary work covered under CUSMA:
- CUSMA Professionals – Workers who are qualified to work in one of approximately 60 targeted professions, and have pre-arranged employment.
- CUSMA Intra-Company Transfers – Managers, executives, or workers with specialized knowledge transferring to Canada to work for a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of their U.S. or Mexican employer.
- CUSMA Traders – Persons who are coming to Canada to carry out substantial trade of goods or services Canada and the U.S. or Mexico.
- CUSMA Investors – Investors who have made a substantial investment in a new or existing Canadian business and are coming to Canada to develop and direct the business.
Canada’s free trade agreement with the European Union and its member states is called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
There are four groups of people who may benefit from CETA:
- Business visitors – This category includes short-term business visitors and business visitors coming to Canada for investment purposes.
- Intra-company transferees – Senior personnel and specialists may transfer to a Canadian branch without an LMIA.
- Investors – European investors who have made a substantial investment in a new or existing Canadian business and are coming to Canada to develop and direct the business.
- Contractual service suppliers and independent professionals – This CETA category is for certain service suppliers and independent professionals.
TV and film
TV and film productions can bring essential personnel to Canada through the TV and Film Production Work Permit Category.
Foreign and Canadian production companies can use this work permit category to bring talent to Canadian locations, if they can demonstrate the work to be performed by the foreign national is essential to the production.
Business visitors can enter Canada to conduct business or trade activity without needing a work permit. This exemption may apply to people who are coming to Canada to attend a conference, buy Canadian goods or services for a foreign entity, train employees or being trained for work that will be done outside of Canada, among others. They also could be providing after-sales or lease services.
These are some of the general criteria to qualify as a business visitor:
- the intended duration of stay in Canada is for less than six months;
- the foreign national does not plan to enter the Canadian labour market, and their main place of income or source of income and profits is outside of Canada; and
- the foreign national meets Canada’s basic entry requirements including a valid passport, enough money to finance the entire stay and return home, and is not criminally or medically inadmissible.
Business visitors may need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in order to cross the border.
After-sales or lease services
If a worker is coming to Canada to do repairs and servicing, supervise installers, or set up and test commercial or industrial equipment (including computer software) they may not need a Canadian work permit. People who do this type of work may be considered business visitors.
Setting up does not include hands-on installation generally performed by construction or building trades, such as electricians or pipe fitters.
After-sales or lease services also applies to people coming to repair or service specialized equipment purchased or leased outside Canada, provided the service is being performed as part of the original or extended sales agreement, lease or rental agreement, warranty or service contract.
It includes situations where the sales or lease agreement or purchase order is for a software upgrade to operate previously sold or leased equipment. Also, a service person coming to Canada to install, configure or give training on the upgraded software may be considered a business visitor.
Hands-on building and construction work is not covered by this provision.