LMIA 101: Hiring International Job Seekers

WorkHorse Hub October 1, 2018

Agriculture has come a long way from its early primitive days, manifesting itself as an industry on the cutting edge of new technologies and innovations.

As populations continue to grow, more food needs to be produced on less arable land. This pushes agriculture to improve efficiency and yields through advanced cropping systems management techniques.  

In fact, according to the Population Institute, food production needs to rise by 70% by 2050 to keep up with population growth. Seventy percent!

Technologies such as smart sensors, hydroponics, and precision farming have transformed agriculture into a competitive market needing qualified, skilled employees ranging from general farm labourers to certified crop consultants, to geneticists, and chemists.

With a range of specialized, often technical, jobs such as those needed by agriculture employers. Even so, finding the best-qualified candidate to fill a position at an agriculture enterprise is challenging.

To fill these job with a well-matched candidate, more and more employers are looking to international candidates as a solution. (it is a pool of millions of people that dream of an opportunity to live and work in Canada)

Opening the job search up internationally does come with some additional requirements, including applying for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), to ensure hiring a foreign worker doesn’t negatively affect the Canadian job market.

Whether you are beginning to look for international job seekers for your farm, or are simply curious about the option, we will get you familiarized with LMIA. This includes what LMIA is, what the requirements are for applying, and the other specifics you need to know!

Let’s get started.  

Expanding your search horizons

Sometimes just trying to find candidates for your job opening can seem futile, especially if the position warrants a highly skilled employee or a candidate with an advanced degree.

When looking to fill an empty position and struggling to find a qualified candidate within the local region, or even across the country, as an employer you have a couple of viable options:

  • Either hire an underqualified local/domestic candidate, or
  • Expand your pursuit internationally to look for an employee.

Hiring someone who isn’t completely qualified and taking the time to train them is a perfectly normal and smart practice for businesses in any industry.

It’s better to fill a position and train an employee on relevant skills rather than let a job opening stay empty. Instead of training new employees, more and more companies are looking to other countries to discover experienced job seekers for their full-time and seasonal positions.

If you are interested in promoting a job opening to an international pool of candidates, there are some proper steps that need to be followed.

How hiring internationally works

Once the decision has been made to expand the search area and look at hiring someone from Australia, United States, Germany or any other country, it may become necessary for you to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Unless the job meets specific exemptions, neither a temporary nor a permanent foreign agricultural worker can apply for a Canadian work permit until the LMIA has been completed and approved.

What is a Labour Market Impact Assessment?

The purpose of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (an LMIA) is to determine whether hiring foreign nationals will have a positive or neutral impact on the Canadian labour market. The goal is to prevent hiring a foreigner if it will have a negative impact.

LMIA applications are analyzed by Service Canada, a division of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Offices are available in every Canadian province.

During the assessment process, the ESDC will investigate to determine if your search for a Canadian employee was genuine.

They will check how many candidates applied for the position, how many candidates were interviewed, if you made job offers to any Canadian or permanent residents, and why workers you considered were not hired.

In conjunction with this, they will also assess whether hiring foreigners will cause job loss or creation, and in turn, if hiring foreign workers will positively impact other employees of your business or not.

Requirements for applying for an LMIA

  1. For each labour assessment submitted you must pay a processing fee of $1000 CDN plus a “privilege fee” of $100 CDN. These fees are non-refundable and cannot be recovered from the foreign worker(s) you hire.
  2. Any job for which you are applying for an LMIA may only list French or English speaking candidates as a job requirement unless you can adequately prove the job in question requires the employee to speak another language fluently.
  3. A thorough job search must be performed before an LMIA application can be submitted. All job vacancies must be advertised in the Canadian job market for at least 4 weeks, and utilize at least two other recruitment methods/advertising channels. One of which must be national such as WorkHorse Hub.
  4. If you are submitting an LMIA for a high-wage position you must also prepare and submit a transition plan to the ESDC. The transition plan should state how you or your company aims to reduce a dependency on foreign workers over time. Ideas can include helping foreign workers become permanent citizens, investing in skills training programs, or hiring Canadian apprentices to train them.
  5. All employers must acknowledge they will not lay off or cut the hours of current workers if an LMIA is approved and foreign workers are hired.

LMIA processing times

Typical processing times for an LMIA is about 2 months, plus the mandatory 4-week search period prior to applying. LMIA requirements stipulate you apply approximately 6 months in advance of your anticipated hiring date to allow time for the assessment.

There are some exceptions to this lengthy processing time though.

The ESDC has committed a 10-day processing standard for applications pertaining to skilled jobs that are in high demand, jobs that offer wages falling within the top 10% of salaries earned in that province or territory, and short-term employment jobs with a duration of work less than 120 days.

Disqualifications for an LMIA

Care must be taken when applying for an LMIA that you don’t automatically have the application disqualified, as this will result in losing the application fees. The following scenarios will cause an automatic disqualification if you meet all three criteria:

LMIA exemptions

The idea of having to apply for an LMIA and pay the processing and privilege fee may deter some employers from even considering hiring international job seekers.

Fortunately, there are a bunch of programs under which you can hire temporary workers who are visa exempt and without needing an LMIA including:

  • The International Mobility Program (IMP) allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary work permit through reciprocal youth exchange agreements such as the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, international agreements such as through such as the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CETA), and Canadian specific programs such as  Intra-Company Transfer, or Francophone Mobility.
  • You can also become a part of the Express Entry intake. Your conditional job offer can support the foreigner Express Entry Permanent Residence application and again, you will avoid all of the LMIA application hassles.

To see if your job qualifies for an exemption from an LMIA you can either review the LMIA Exemptions Codes or contact the International Workers Mobility Unit for assistance.


Finding the right talent to fill a position in your agricultural business or on your farm is always an undertaking, but there have never been more ways than now to make sure you hire the perfect new employee.

If qualified candidates aren’t available locally, or throughout the Canadian provinces or territories, nor do you want to hire an underqualified employee and train them, you can apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment to expand your search internationally.

Make sure you check out all the resources in this post and feel free to reach out with any questions you might have — the WorkHorse team is here for you!

 Are you looking for more educational blogs on hiring? Check out our Resources page!

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