LMIA-Exempt Work Permit

Commonly, employers need to request a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and receive a confirmation letter before they can hire foreign workers.  However, there are certain Canadian immigration programs that waive the LMIA requirement.

2 Types of LMIA Exemptions

LMIA exempt work permits generally refer to one of the following:

  1. Open Work Permits. No job offer and no LMIA is required. Foreign workers will be able to work for any employer if they meet program requirements. 
  2. Employer-Specific Work Permits.  A job offer is required but no LMIA needed. An applicant must meet program requirements.

This means that a foreign national can apply for a work permit directly, and confirmation by the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) in the form of a positive LMIA is not needed. In other words, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may issue an LMIA-exempt work permit. Exemptions are based on Canada’s international agreements, public policy, a significant benefit to Canadians or other specific programs, all of which are further enumerated.

LMIA Exemptions | List of all Programs

Below is the list of all programs and categories of workers who do not need a positive ESDC’s LMIA to apply for a work permit. For some jobs, even a work permit is not required but usually time-limited. This is a general overview, and each of the job categories may be subject to additional requirements.

Canada International agreements

  • Non-trade
  • Unique work situations:
    • Airline personnel (operational, technical and ground personnel)
    • United States government personnel

Canada Free Trade Agreements (FTA)

  • Trader
  • Investor
  • Professional/technician
  • Intra-company transferee
  • Spouse (Colombia or Korea FTA)

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

  • Professional
  • Intra-company transferee

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

  • Investor
  • Contractual service supplier
  • Independent professional
  • Intra-corporate (company) transferee

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

  • Spouse
  • Investor
  • Intra-company transferee
  • Professional or technician

Canada-provincial or territorial programs

  • Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program

Canadian interests

  • Significant benefit – if a foreign worker will bring an important social, cultural, or economic benefit to Canada. 
  • Unique work situations:
    • Airline personnel (foreign airline security guards)
    • Interns with international organizations recognized under the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
    • Rail grinder operators, rail welders or other specialized track maintenance workers
    • Experts on a mission, working for a United Nations office in Canada
    • Foreign physicians coming to work in Quebec
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Unique work situations:
    • Fishing guides (Canadian lakes)
    • Foreign camp owner or director, and outfitters
    • Foreign freelance race jockeys
  • Intra-company transferees
  • Unique work situations
    • Airline personnel (station managers)
  • Emergency repair or repair personnel for out-of-warranty equipment
  • Television and film production workers
  • Francophone mobility
  • Live-in caregivers whose permanent residence application is submitted
  • Caregivers whose permanent residence application is submitted under the Home Child Care Provider Pilot (HCCPP) or Home Support Worker Pilot (HSWP) (occupation-restricted open work permit)
  • Spouses and dependants at age of majority of caregivers whose permanent residence application is submitted under the HCCPP or HSWP
    • Bridging open work permits (BOWPs)
  • Caregivers under the HCCPP or HSWP
  • Unique work situations
    • Certain Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ) holders currently in Quebec

Reciprocal employment

  • Reciprocal employment – foreign workers get jobs in Canada when Canadians have similar opportunities in other countries.
  • Unique work situations:
    • Fishing guides (border lakes)
    • Residential camp counsellors
    • United States government personnel (family members)
  • Youth exchange programs
  • Academic exchanges (professors, visiting lecturers)
  • Performing arts


  • Researchers
  • Educational co-op – post-secondary
  • Educational co-op – secondary level

Competitiveness and public policy

  • Spouses of skilled workers
  • Spouses of students
  • Post-graduate employment
  • Post-doctoral Ph.D. fellows and award recipients
  • Off-campus employment for students
  • Medical residents and fellows

Charitable or religious workers

  • Charitable or religious work

No other means of support

  • Refugee claimants
  • Persons under an unenforceable removal order

Permanent residence applicants in Canada

  • Permanent residence applicants in Canada:
    • Live-in-caregiver class
    • Spouse or common-law partner in Canada class
    • Protected persons under subsection A95(2)
    • Section A25 exemption (humanitarian and compassionate grounds)
    • Family members of the above

Vulnerable workers

  • Vulnerable workers
  • Family member of vulnerable worker

Humanitarian reasons

  • Destitute students
  • Holders of a temporary resident permit valid for a minimum of six months

If you would like to know more , you may call +1 587-930-7017 or email or message us using the contact form.

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