How can I work in Canada without an LMIA?

Julia Hornstein
Published: July 21, 2022

The purpose of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is to make sure that the hiring of a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour force. Work permits that require an LMIA fall under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Canada allows some foreign workers to come work in Canada without an LMIA. These workers fall under the International Mobility Program (IMP). The IMP’s purpose is to promote Canada’s economic, social and cultural interests. Many of the most common LMIA-exempt streams fall under the IMP, which can be divided into the following categories:

  • Significant benefit
  • Reciprocal Employment
  • Charitable and Religious Workers

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

Significant Benefit

The foreign national’s proposed work must be considered beneficial to Canada, meaning it must be important or notable. Canada visa officers have some flexibility in determining who is issued a work- permit under this category. Some objective measures for “significant social or cultural benefit” include:

  • An academic record showing that the foreign worker has a degree, diploma, certificate or award from an institution of learning related to their area of ability
  • Evidence from current or former employers about the foreign workers experience in the occupation or area of ability
  • Foreign national is a recipient of national or international awards or patents
  • Evidence of membership in organizations requiring excellence of its members
  • Evidence of recognition of achievement and significant contributions to their field
  • Evidence of scientific or scholarly contributions to their field
  • Publications authored by the foreign national in academic or industry publication
  • Leading role in an organization with a distinguished reputation

Here are some of Canada’s LMIA-exempt work permit programs under the significant benefit category.

Entrepreneurs or Self-employed persons

Entrepreneurs or self-employed persons who want to come to Canada to start or run a business may be granted an LMIA exemption. Applicant under this program must be sole or majority owners of the business and must demonstrate that the business will be of significant benefit to Canada. It is important to note that you may only be eligible for this type of work permit if their work in Canada is temporary.

Intra-Company Transferees (ICT)

Foreign businesses that have a parent company, branch, subsidiary or affiliate in Canada can bring important personnel to Canada through Intra-Company Transferees. The applicant must be an executive or senior manager, functional managers or an employee who has specialized knowledge of the enterprise’s products, services, processes and procedures.


Under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), citizens of the United States and Mexico can get a work permit without the need for an LMIA.

There are four categories of temporary work covered under CUSMA:

  • CUSMA Professionals: Applicants who qualify to work in one of approximately 60 targeted professions.
  • CUSMA Intra-Company transfers: Workers transferring to Canada to work for a branch, subsidiary or affiliate of their US or Mexican employer who meet the ICT requirements.
  • CUSMA Traders: Workers coming to Canada to carry out trade of goods or services between Canada and their country of citizenship, either the US 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.


The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) allows certain business visitors, investors, ICT’s, service providers and independent professionals to come to Canada without an LMIA.

TV and Film Production Workers

Television and film production companies can bring workers to Canada if they can demonstrate that the work to be performed by the foreign worker is essential to production.

Reciprocal Employment

Reciprocal employment agreements allow foreign works to work in Canada when Canadians have similar reciprocal work opportunities abroad. These agreements can be in the form of:

  • International Agreements: Foreign worker must be of significant benefit to Canada.
  • International Exchange Programs: Program for international youth to come work in Canada.

Charitable and Religious Work

Charitable Worker

Charity is defined as the relief of poverty, advanced of education or certain other purposes that benefit the community. Being registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a charity is a strong indicator that an organization is charitable in nature, but foreign workers may be able to work in Canada for an organization that is not registered with the CRA.

Religious Workers

The foreign national must be part of or share the religious beliefs of a particular religious community where they intend to work. The primary duties of the foreign worker would be a particular religious objective, like instruction or promotion of a religion or faith.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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