Employers & HR Managers

As an Employer or Human Resource Manager, you may be having difficulty finding a suitable employee to hire. Or, you may have found a non-Canadian employee whom you know would be a great addition to your team. In both (and many other) scenarios, Lowe & Company can help.

There are over 40 different ways for foreign nationals to work legally in Canada, depending on background (nationality, education, age, credentials) and the job offer in Canada. Some of these include LMIA based Work Permits; CUSMA (NAFTA) Professional Work Permits; Intra Company Transferees; and others. Each route is different, and we can help our clients find and navigate the best options for their unique situation.

One issue which the Canadian government has been developing over the past few years is Employer Compliance Inspections and Reviews. We’ve helped employers and HR managers plan from the outset to ensure that they are not caught unawares.

Many employers and HR managers contract out the function of obtaining work permits and immigration to our firm. Through our experience dealing with these matters daily, we can save you time, money, and minimize your risk of problems arising.

Immigration Options for Workers

Your foreign worker may also be interested in applying for permanent residence, either under Express Entry or under a program like the BC PNP Skilled Worker Program.

At Lowe & Company, we can assist you throughout the process of bringing foreign workers to Canada, dealing with any Employer Compliance issues, then helping them immigrate to Canada. Request a consultation to find out more.

What is a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)?

A Labour Market Impact Assessment is an Opinion from Service Canada stating that the offering of a job to a foreign worker would be:

  1. Genuine; and
  2. Have a neutral or positive effect on the Canadian Labour Market.

The LMIA is not a work permit; however, it is used to support a work permit application. If a Canadian employer is given a positive LMIA Opinion by Service Canada, it can offer a job to a foreign worker, who would then apply to Canada Immigration for a work permit based on that LMIA.

What are the criteria to assess an LMIA application?

There are 7 factors which a Service Canada Officer must consider in assessing an LMIA:

  1. Job Creation or Retention:
    Would hiring the foreign worker result in direct job creation or job retention for Canadians?
  2. Transfer of Skills or Knowledge:
    Would hiring the foreign worker result in the development or transfer of skills and knowledge to Canadians?
  3. Shortage of Available Canadians:
    Would hiring the foreign worker likely fill a labour shortage?
  4. Market Wages:
    Are the wages offered to the foreign worker consistent with the market wages and working conditions for the occupation?
  5. Training Canadians:
    Will the employer hire or train Canadians for the position in the future?
  6. Labour Disputes:
    Would hiring the foreign worker have an adverse effect on any labour dispute in progress?
  7. Previous commitments:
    Has the employer has fulfilled any commitments made regarding previous LMIAs?

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take To Get an LMIA in BC?

Processing times will vary, depending on the type of LMIA application and the caseload at the time of submission. In the past few years, processing times have varied from as little as 2 weeks to over 6 months. As of Summer 2021, average processing times are between 9 and 31 business days.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Work Permit from Canada Immigration, after We Get the LMIA from Service Canada?

This will depend upon the foreigner’s nationality, immigration history, and other factors. Citizens of countries that do not require visitor visas to enter Canada (e.g. the USA, the UK, and others) can usually obtain work permits at the Canadian border, while citizens of other countries that require visas to enter Canada would need to apply through a Visa office, which could take much longer.

COVID restrictions have also affected work permit processing, so you should review current processes with one of our lawyers or consultants.

What Kinds of Jobs Can Qualify for LMIAs?

Many occupations for which there is a labour shortage in the employer’s region may qualify, though sometimes there are restrictions. There are different processing criteria for “High Wage” (jobs paying wages above the Provincial median wage), and “Low Wage” (those paying below the Provincial median wage). Certain jobs, such as High Technology positions, may qualify for expedited processing.

What about the Job Description?

The job description is very important, as many jobs can be classified into different categories, with different wage and employment requirements. This can affect the recruiting and salary requirements.

Do We Need to Advertise?

Generally, the employer must advertise, or conduct other approved methods of recruitment efforts, for a minimum of 4 weeks. Some of these are free while others can be fairly costly. There are a number of specific requirements for the advertising, and care must be taken in drafting and posting the ad.

Must We Have Identified the Foreign Worker before Applying for an LMIA?

This is usually the case, but it is not necessary. We have helped some employers obtain an LMIA for one or more positions (e.g. for 10 carpenters for a building project), and only after the LMIA is issued will they recruit the Foreign Workers.

Where Can We Recruit Foreign Workers From?

Once you have an approved LMIA, you can recruit workers from anywhere in the world. However, it may be easier for workers from some countries to obtain work permits than workers from other countries, and this needs to be part of your Foreign Worker strategy.

Can We Pay Lower Salaries to Foreign Workers if They Are Willing?

No. Wages offered to foreign workers must meet or exceed those offered to Canadians in that position; otherwise employers may bring in “cheap labour” to depress the Canadian labour market.

What if My Company’s Situation Has Changed, and I Want to Change the Terms of Employment from the LMIA?

In general, you are obligated to fulfill the terms of the LMIA with “substantially the same” terms and conditions; failure to do so could lead to sanctions against you. You should seek legal advice prior to making any changes from the LMIA terms and conditions.

Can the Foreign Worker Leave Us to Work for Another Employer?

An LMIA-based work permit only allows the foreigner to work for your firm. While one can always apply for a new work permit, it can take 8 weeks or longer, reducing the incentive to move.

Lowe & Company has been helping Canadian Employers and HR managers obtain LMIAs and work permits for their foreign employees for many years. We have also taught other immigration lawyers and consultants on LMIAs and work permits. Request a consultation with one of our team today to find out how we can help you!

CUSMA Professionals

U.S. or Mexican citizens who are offered a job by a Canadian Employer in an Eligible Professional Occupation may be able to apply for a work permit as a professional under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. CUSMA is the successor to NAFTA.

Sometimes known as the TN Visa in the U.S., the CUSMA Professionals work permit is one of the most practical ways to obtain work permits for U.S. or Mexican citizens, and may avoid the time and expense of an LMIA-based Work Permit.

Requirements for a CUSMA Professional Work Permit

  1. Citizenship of the U.S. or Mexico;
  2. A profession identified in an Eligible Professional Occupation
  3. Qualification to work in that profession (as noted in the Eligible Professional Occupation Schedule);
  4. Pre-arranged employment with a Canadian employer;
  5. Provision of professional level services in the field of qualification; and
  6. Compliance with existing immigration requirements for temporary (e.g. not inadmissible, etc.)

What Are the Eligible Professional Occupations?

Appendix 2 of CUSMA lists 63 professional occupations which are eligible under this category. It is a complete list and, if an occupation does not appear on the list, it is not a profession as defined under the Professionals category of CUSMA.

The Minimum Education Requirements and Alternative Credentials indicated for each profession are minimum criteria for a work permit to be issued under this category.

The Professionals category does not allow self-employment in Canada. A person who wishes to be self-employed in Canada should consider making an application under another category such as Trader or Investor.

How Long Can a Work Permit Be Issued and Can It Be Extended?

Initial work permits can be granted for durations of up to three years, and extensions may be granted.

Officers must be satisfied that the employment is still “temporary” and that the applicant is not using CUSMA entry as a means of circumventing normal immigration procedures.

Request a consultation and find out how we can assist you!

List of eligible professions under the CUSMA Professionals category

ProfessionMinimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
AccountantBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A. or C.M.A.
ArchitectBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence. (“State/provincial licence” and “state/provincial/federal licence” mean any document issued by a state, provincial or federal government, as the case may be, or under its authority, but not by a local government, that permits a person to engage in a regulated activity or profession.)
Computer Systems AnalystBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience.
• “Post-Secondary Diploma” means a credential issued, on completion of two or more years of post-secondary education, by an accredited academic institution in Canada or the U.S.
• “Post-Secondary Certificate” means a certificate issued, on completion of two or more years of post-secondary education at an academic institution, by the federal government of Mexico or a state government in Mexico, an academic institution recognized by the federal government or a state government, or an academic institution created by federal or state law.
Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (claims Adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claims adjuster)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree, and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims; or three years experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims
EconomistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
EngineerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence
ForesterBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence
Graphic DesignerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence
Hotel Manager (See note below for further details.)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree in hotel/restaurant management; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate in hotel/restaurant management, and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management
Note: This provision refers to a management position to which other managers report (e.g., general manager, director). It also refers to specialty managers (e.g., food and beverage managers, convention services managers) within a hotel.
Industrial DesignerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Interior DesignerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Land SurveyorBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial/ federal licence
Landscape ArchitectBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Lawyer (including Notary in the Province of Quebec)LL.B., J.D., LL.L, B.C.L. or Licenciatura Degree (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar
LibrarianM.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree was a prerequisite)
A librarian must have either:
1. a Master of Library Science degree; or
2. a Bachelor of Library Science and another baccalaureate degree which was necessary to enter the B.L.S. program.
Management ConsultantBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant, or five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement
1. A management consultant provides services which are directed toward improving the managerial, operating, and economic performance of public and private entities by analyzing and resolving strategic and operating problems. The management consultant does not take part in the company’s production but seeks to improve the client’s goals, objectives, policies, strategies, administration, organization, and operation. Generally, a management consultant is hired on contract to do project work to deal with specific issues or problems.
2. A management consultant may provide the following range of services:
• conduct a comprehensive examination of the client’s business to isolate and define problems;
• prepare a presentation and report all findings to the client;
• work with the client to design and implement in-depth working solutions.
3. Management consultants assist and advise in implementing recommendations but do not perform functional/operational work for clients or take part in the company’s production.
4. Any training or familiarization that is provided to management and personnel on an individual or group basis:
• must be incidental to the implementation of new systems and procedures which were recommended in the management consulting report;
• must be performed by permanent (indeterminate) employees of the recommending American or Mexican management consulting firm.
5. Typically, a management consultant is an independent contractor or an employee of a consulting firm under contract to a Canadian client. A management consultant can also occupy a permanent position on a temporary basis with a Canadian management consulting firm.
Mathematician (including statistician and Actuary)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
An actuary must satisfy the necessary requirements to be recognized as an actuary by a professional actuarial association or society operating the territory of at least one of the Parties
Range Manager/Range ConservationalistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Research assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Scientific Technician/ TechnologistPossession of (a) theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics; and (b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research
A business person in this category must be seeking temporary entry to work in direct support of professionals in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics.
1. A baccalaureate degree is not normally held by a scientific technician/technologist; therefore, an applicant must possess the skills noted above.
2. Basic research is theoretical or conceptual and is not conducted with a specific purpose or result in mind. Applied research is conducted with a practical or problem solving purpose in mind.
Additional guidance (as agreed to by all parties of the Working Group, Dec. 2001):
• Individuals for whom ST/Ts wish to provide direct support must qualify as a professional in their own right in one of the following fields: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics.
• A general offer of employment by such a professional is not sufficient, by itself, to qualify for admission as a Scientific Technician of Technologist. The offer must demonstrate that the work of the ST/T will be interrelated with that of the supervisory professional. That is, the work of the ST/T must be managed, coordinated and reviewed by the professional supervisor, and must also provide input to the supervisory professional’s own work.
• The ST/T’s theoretical knowledge should generally have been acquired through the successful completion of at least two years of training in a relevant educational program. Such training may be documented by presentation of a diploma, a certificate, or a transcript accompanied by evidence of relevant work experience.
• Use the National Occupational Classification (NOC) in order to establish whether proposed job functions are consistent with those of a scientific or engineering technician or technologist.
• Not admissible as ST/Ts are persons intending to do work that is normally done by the construction trades (welders, boiler makers, carpenters, electricians, etc.), even where these trades are specialized to a particular industry (e.g., aircraft, power distribution).
Social WorkerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Technical Publications WriterBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Urban Planner (including Geographer)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Vocational CounsellorBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Medical/Allied Professional

ProfessionMinimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
DentistD.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental; or state/provincial license
DietitianBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/ Medical Technologist (Mexico and the U.S.)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Note: A professional in this category must be seeking temporary entry to perform in a laboratory chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic or bacteriological tests and analyses for diagnosis, treatment or prevention of disease.
NutritionistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Occupational TherapistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
PharmacistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
Physician (teaching or research only)M.D. or Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license
Note: Physicians may not enter for the purpose of providing direct patient care. Patient care incidental to teaching and/or research is permissible.
Physiotherapist/Physical TherapistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
PsychologistState/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree
Recreational TherapistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Registered NurseState/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree
Note: To be authorized to enter Canada as a registered nurse, a licence issued by the province of destination is necessary.
VeterinarianD.V.M., D.M.V. or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license


ProfessionMinimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
Agriculturist (including Agronomist)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Animal BreederBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Animal ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
ApiculturistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
AstronomerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
BiochemistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Biologist (including Plant Pathologist)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
ChemistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Dairy ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
EntomologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
EpidemiologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
GeneticistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
GeologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
GeochemistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the U.S.)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
HorticulturistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
MeteorologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
PharmacologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Plant BreederBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Poultry ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Soil ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
ZoologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


ProfessionMinimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
CollegeBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
SeminaryBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
UniversityBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Intra-Company Transferees

If your company wants to transfer an overseas employee to Canada to either work for the Canadian branch of your company, or set up a Canadian branch of the company, the employee may qualify as an intra-company transferee.  To qualify as an intra-company transferee, an employee must:

  1. Have worked outside Canada with a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the Canadian company for at least 1 year in the past 3 years;
  2. Be working in either:
    1. An Executive position;
    2. As a Senior Manager; or
    3. A position requiring specialized knowledge; and
  3. Be transferred to Canada for an equivalent position.

Intra-company transferee work permits may be issued for periods from 1 to 3 years.

At Lowe & Company, we have helped multinational companies use the Intra Company Transferee work permit to transfer executives or other senior personnel to their affiliates in Canada.

We have also used the Intra Company Transferee provisions for foreign companies to acquire or establish Canadian businesses, then transfer senior managers to manage the businesses.

Request a consultation and find out how we can assist you!

Service Canada Inspections and Employer Compliance Reviews

Service Canada Inspections and Employer Compliance Reviews

Employers obtaining certain work permits for their foreign workers should note the possibility of an Employer Compliance Review (ECR) by Service Canada to determine if the employer has been compliant with its Employer Compliance obligations.

ECRs can take place up to 6 years after the foreign worker receives his or her work permit. The objective of the ECR is to determine whether the employer has complied with the wages and working conditions originally agreed to and compliance with relevant laws. An ECR may involve inspection of employer documents, on site examinations, and employee interviews and others.

Non-compliant employers may receive severe sanctions, including bans from using employer specific work permit programs, a negative LMIA, the revoking of previous LMIAs, and fines of up to $1 million dollars. An employer’s name and address may even be published on the Service Canada website as a “blacklisted” organization, with negative implications for an employer’s reputation.

When preparing work permit applications, it is important to consider ECRs and to keep accurate records to avoid non-compliance in the future. After a work permit is issued, it is important to retain documentation to prove compliance on an ongoing basis.

At Lowe & Company, we carefully prepare your Work Permit or LMIA Applications to ensure that you understand what you need to do to be compliant. Should you be called upon for a Compliance Review, we can assist you in dealing with service Canada. Request a consultation to find out more.