A Diverse Workforce in a Growing Economy


Many people come to Canada because they want to improve their own life and that of their family. Not only is Canada a country of beautiful sights and experiences, but it is also one with a growing economy, open to the talents of a diverse workforce.

In 2018, estimates of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) were $1.53 trillion, putting the country at an average of 2.46% of the world’s GDP over the course of a decade. Industries expected to provide continued growth to the Canadian economy include: accounting and bookkeeping, alternative health care, IT, livestock farming (cattle, chicken), death care services and commercial and industrial machinery and equipment. In fact, the top five sectors in Canada are manufacturing, agriculture, energy, technology and services (retail, education, business and health).

Solid economic growth in Canada has been propelled, in part, but the country’s view to link the economy to global trade, strong relations to Asian countries and the establishment of the European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement has helped Canada diversify its trade and ensure ongoing economic growth. Global trade grew by more than 3% – up from 1.3% in 2016.

This is the ideal time to consider working in Canada with unemployment dropping to a four-decade low of just 5.8% in 2018. While every country’s labour market fluctuates, Canada’s is expected to stay strong for the foreseeable future for both citizens and newcomers.

Those with specific skills are in demand, like accountants, engineering project managers, business analysts, IT project managers, software engineers and others. These jobs are generally well paying for the right person and may make coming to Canada easier because they are in high demand. For those without these specific skillsets, there are still plenty of employment opportunities. With a demand for general labourers, customer service representatives, forklift operators, food servers, health care workers, agriculture workers and other roles, immigrants may find their occupation allows for an easier transition into Canada to find work.

Many people who come to Canada end up wanting to stay in the country for a wide range of reasons. By starting in a work permit opportunity, transitioning to permanent residency and even citizenship becomes easier with the time spent in the country, contributing to the community and economy.

There are a number of different options available that allow you to work legally in Canada. Most temporary foreign workers need a permit, and possibly other documentation, to work in the country. Work permits can be granted upon arriving if you are from a visa-exempt country with a valid medical certificate or if you are eligible for an open work permit.

The distinctions among work permits and other options to working in Canada can be confusing. We can help you determine which is right for you.


An LMIA work permit is a temporary work permit that allows those from other countries to work in Canada. There are a number of steps in applying for an LMIA permit including steps the potential employer must take to prove hiring a foreign national for the job won’t adversely impact Canadian workers. The LMIA program is a way for Canadian employers to react to a shortage of suitable employees within the country by hiring immigrant workers.

Even with a job offer, in most cases the work permit must be in place in order for you to do the job you’ve been hired for and in most cases that job offer has to be in place before the application process can begin. If this is your situation, let us know and we can help.

These types of work permits specify the employer the foreign worker will be employed by and the duration of the work period. The Canadian employer must submit a job offer to the foreign worker complete with the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) that supports the claim that there are no Canadian citizens or permanent residents to do the job. Wage determines applicability within the program instead of fit within the National Occupational Classification (NOC). The LMIA program is jointly administered by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), with ESDC taking the lead.

There is also an International Mobility Program within the LMIA program. This is generally based on agreements with other countries, such as trade agreements and other programs. In this case a LMIA is not required and the lead department on immigration is IRCC. Work permits can be employer-specific or open.

If you are already in Canada applying for the work permit, you (or your spouse) must be in Canada on a valid study or work permit. You must also have graduated from a designated educational institution in Canada, have applied for your permanent residency or have asked for refugee status.

If you are applying from outside of Canada, your visa office in that country can assist you with the details and requirements needed for a work permit.

The LMIA Process:

Employers begin the process by receiving approval from the government of Canada to hire a foreign worker. This is the LMIA. A positive LMIA results when the government of Canada determines hiring a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on Canadian workers. In other words, no Canadian workers can be passed over in favour of a foreign worker and must prove they took efforts to find qualified Canadian citizens to fill a role.

There are “high-wage” and “low-wage” classifications in the LMIA process and certain stipulations apply depending upon the classification. Jobs under the median wage are considered low-wage, adversely, those above the median are high-wage.

A 10-day service standard is possible for those jobs in the top 10 percent of wages earned by Canadians. The skills demanded for the job must be proven to be difficult to find in the Canadian market. Short-duration workers in repairs, manufacturing equipment and warranting work are also eligible for the 10-day service standard.

If a job is high-wage, employers must submit the LMIA along with plans to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time.

If the job is low-wage, there is no need to submit a transition plan, but there is a cap of the number of low-wage workers an employer can hire. Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA will have to meet the cap of 10% of their workforce being foreign workers. Employers must also pay for roundtrip transportation for the worker as well as ensure there is affordable housing, provide health insurance (until the worker is eligible), register the employee with workplace safety and provide an employer/employee contract.

Additionally, unemployment rates in provinces and territories determine which regions are eligible for low-wage occupations in certain sectors.

If an LMIA is in a highest-demand occupation, a 10-day service standard is possible. This is because these jobs are considered vital to the country’s economic growth.

After receiving a positive LMIA, employers must send a copy to the foreign worker and must be included in the workers application for a temporary work permit.

Employers must also advertise the job vacancy across Canada for at least four weeks before applying for the LMIA. They must prove they have used various methods to secure a Canadian employee before pursing an LMIA.

Aside from these rules, other general requirements include that you must:

  • Prove that you will leave the country after your work permit expires.
  • Not work for any employers who have failed to comply with the employment standards or businesses who engage in the sex trade.
  • Get a security and background check and submit the police clearance certificate.
  • Have a medical exam.
  • Have enough funds to support yourself and your family members for the entire stay in Canada.


Some temporary workers who come to Canada may be able to do so without the requirements of an LMIA. While the LMIA is not required, a work permit is still needed. The most common examples of when an LMIA isn’t required is when the work is of Significant Benefit, Reciprocal Employment or that of a Charitable and Religious Worker. Because a work permit is still required, it’s advisable to get started as early as possible on the application to avoid any delays if the activities to be performed are time-sensitive.

The Significant Benefit stream is for those whose work is significant and notable, such as that of a professor or someone who has received national or international acclaim among other situations or entrepreneurs wishing to start a business of benefit to Canada, French-speaking skilled workers and others.

Canadian visa officers have a certain amount of flexibility in determining if issuing a work permit to a foreign worker is of a significant social or cultural benefit. The work must be important or notable and this determination would apply on the input of experts within the field – although the foreign worker’s past record is often seen as a good indication of achievement.

Significant social or cultural benefit can be determined a variety of ways including whether the foreign worker has judged the work of others in the field, has taken a leading role in an organization with a distinguished reputation, has significant full-time experience in the field, has received national or international awards or patents and other measures. This may include entrepreneurs or self-employed persons, intra-company transfers, dependents of foreign workers, French speaking skilled workers, academics and those nominated by a province or territory for permanent residence with a job offer.

The Reciprocal Employment stream is when the foreign worker takes up employment in Canada while a Canadian has a similar work opportunity abroad. This may be part of an international agreement that shows the admission of foreign workers is of significant benefit due to an international trade (or other) agreement, or maybe part of an international exchange program such as student, co-op programs, young professional programs and teacher exchanges.

The Charitable and Religious Worker stream is when the worker is not a volunteer, but is someone who provides beneficial charity work to the community. This is in the case of relief of poverty, advancement of education or other purposes that bring benefit to Canadian communities.

As temporary workers, these individuals do not require an LMIA and if the organization is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency as a charity it will make proving the case of a charitable worker easier.

Keep in mind that a charitable worker requires work permit where a volunteer (who is not paid and therefore doesn’t enter the labour market) does not. Charitable workers are paid for their work.

For religious workers, the foreign national must show their primary role is to provide certain religious instruction or promote the religion.

If you think you might be able to work without an LMIA, contact us and we can help.


These work permits allow you to work for almost any employer in Canada. This is important because when one spouse or partner in a relationship is coming to Canada to work on a temporary work permit, the other may also want to work, but doesn’t yet have a job offer. This type of permit isn’t job-specific so it’s also applicable for international students in the post-graduate work program or the spouse of an international student.

For example, one spouse may have already received a job offer, but the other spouse has not applied for jobs in Canada or isn’t sure what kind of work they would like to do in the country when they re-join their family. It is known that international foreign workers are much more successful integrating into Canadian culture when their spouse accompanies them. This type of permit gives flexibility in terms of applying for a job upon arrival.

It is also ideal for spouses who are supporting an international student. These individuals may know they want to come to Canada to be with their partner and support them in their studies but have not determined what kind of work is the best fit.

Ultimately, the open work permit is ideal for those coming to Canada to be with family members but who don’t yet know what work they will prefer in Canada, want to take some time off before re-joining a workforce or haven’t yet determined their skillset and the type of work they are best suited for.

Dates on these permits generally align with those on the work or study permit of the spouse already coming to Canada on a study permit or temporary work permit.

To be eligible, you must be in one of the following situations which may require more documentation:
– Have applied for permanent residence in Canada.
– Are a dependent family member of a permanent residence applicant.
– Are a spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian worker or international student.
– Are a refugee, refugee claimant, protected person or a family member of such.
– Are a temporary resident permit holder,
– Are a young worker in a special program.


Individuals coming to Canada to engage in international business activities generally don’t need a work permit as they are not entering the labour market. These people would be attending meetings or conferences, providing after-sales service, are demonstrating product usage, observe site visits, or are engaging in training Canadian employees. If you can prove you are coming to engage in work like this, you don’t need to apply for a work permit, but may still need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa or Electronic Travel Authorization.

These individuals must demonstrate that they won’t be staying in Canada more than six months, won’t be entering the Canadian labour market, work primarily outside of Canada and meet Canada’s basic entry requirements. They must also prove that their main source of income and main place of business are outside Canada.

It’s important to note that business visitors and business people are not considered the same by the government of Canada. Business people do work in Canada under a free trade agreement and are not always considered a business visitor.

Some cases where a work permit isn’t necessary:

  • Business visitors – in order to be eligible for working in Canada without a permit, these individuals must not be entering the Canadian labour market, must be working in an international capacity, and the primary source of the workers wages come from outside of Canada where the principal place of employment is outside of Canada and the employer’s profits are accrued outside of Canada. This applies to those in after-sales service such as installing, setting up and /or testing equipment, board members coming to Canada for meetings, employees of foreign companies contracting Canadian companies (a foreign employee providing a service in Canada, but still employed and paid by a foreign company).
  • Foreign government officers – where foreign workers come to Canada to work within a provincial/territorial or federal government. This may require a contract from Canada’s Public Service Commission if the foreign worker is at an executive level and those in Canada for more than three months will need a formal letter of agreement.
  • On-campus employment – students are often eligible to work on-campus at their education institution if they have a valid study permit and are a full-time student at the appropriate type of school. Work authorization is needed for the duration of the study permit and this may include work on campuses of the institution that aren’t the student’s “base” campus so long as they are within the same municipality.
  • Performing artists – while some types of performing artists do require a work permit and LMIA, others do not. Those who don’t include bands performing at privately owned facilities, bands and theatrical individuals as well as their crew, working outside of bars, restaurants, pubs and other privately-owned facilities, street performers, circus entertainers, guest artists with limited engagements, people performing at private events (birthday, wedding, etc.) WWE wrestlers, air show performers and artists at showcases or workshops. Film producers and film and recording studio users fall under the business visitors category and persons doing guest spots on Canadian media are guest speakers.
  • Others who may be eligible to perform work in Canada without a work permit include:
    • Foreign representatives and their families
    • Military personnel
    • American cross-border maritime law enforcement officers
    • In-flight security officers
    • Athletes and team members
    • News reporter and media crews
    • Public speakers
    • Convention organizers
    • Clergy
    • Judges, referees and similar officials
    • Examiners and evaluators
    • Expert witnesses and investigators
    • Health care students
    • Civil aviation inspectors
    • Aviation or accident investigators
    • Crew
    • Emergency service providers
    • Those with implied status

If you believe you fall under any of these categories, we can help determine if you are able to work in Canada without a work permit. Contact us to help you with the process.


In many cases, Canadian employers are having a hard time finding the talent they need to run and advance their business without looking outside the country. With many current labour immigration programs, there are ways to fill the gaps being experienced by your business whether it is temporary or permanent work. The process of hiring immigrant workers may well be easier than you think as the government of Canada has recognized shortages in many areas and has streamlined the hiring process.

When hiring foreign workers, you will need to determine if you are looking for temporary or permanent workers and what program you want them to apply under. In many cases, employers identify who they want to hire and have submitted a job offer to the prospective employee.

While we at ELAAR do not recruit for employers, we can help with the LMIA process and ensure work permits are in place for potential foreign employees.

If you already have a worker you wish to employ, we are able to help you determine the best program for their work permit and can even assist in ensuring the job offer is correct. You may also need to have your potential employee’s internationally-obtained education and work experience credentials assessed for certain occupations. Federal and provincial/territorial bodies require these assessments prior to a foreign worker coming to Canada to work. Those employees in fields such as engineers, healthcare, electrical, plumbing, and others may also need to establish additional certification in order to work in their field in Canada.

We have helped employers start the process in obtaining the workers they need and would be happy to discuss the process and options with you.