LMIA-exempt Canada Work Permit

Work permit options to bring foreign employees to Canada without the need to complete the LMIA process.

With this provision, you can hire a temporary foreign worker without the need of the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), or even bring people covered by one of these exemptions in order to work in Canada without a work permit visa.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada have a work permit program called the International Mobility Program (IMP) that exists to support the country's social, economic, and cultural interests. These Canada Work Permits are exempt from the LMIA because the government has determined that the foreign worker's employment will provide a "substantial benefit" to Canada, or the exemption is subject to a mutual agreement between Canada and the foreign worker's home country.

If your employment is covered by one of the IRCC's LMIA exemption codes or a work permit exemption, you will not need to go through the LMIA process. Before hiring foreign workers under the IMP, you will need to pay an employer compliance fee and submit a job offer through the IRCC's Employer Portal.

Quebec employers do not need a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) to recruit through the IMP.

Here are some of Canada's LMIA-exempt work permit and work permit-exempt programs.

Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)

Multinational companies can send key personnel to work at their Canadian location via an Intra-Company Transfer (ICT).

This option is available to companies with a parent, subsidiary, branch, or subsidiary location operating in Canada. Just having a physical location is not enough.

Also, the profession in Canada may only be for managers and senior executives, functional managers, or an employee who can demonstrate specialist knowledge of the company's products, services, processes, and procedures.


U.S. and Mexican citizens can obtain a Canadian work permit under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).

CUSMA, formerly known as NAFTA, allows Canada, the USA, and Mexico to exchange talent without the need for LMIAs.

There are four categories of temporary jobs covered under CUSMA:

CUSMA Professionals – Workers with preset employment who are qualified to work in one of the approximately 60 targeted occupations.

CUSMA Intracompany Transfers – Managers, managers, or workers with proprietary knowledge who transfer to Canada to work for a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of their US or Mexican employer.

CUSMA Merchants – Persons who come to Canada to trade substantial amounts of goods or services in Canada and the USA or Mexico.

CUSMA Investors – Investors who have made a significant investment in a new or existing Canadian business and come to Canada to develop and lead the business.


Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is Canada's free trade agreement with the European Union and its member states.

There are four groups of people who can benefit from CETA:

Business visitors – This category includes short-term business visitors and business visitors to Canada for investment purposes.

Internal transfers – Senior staff and experts can transfer to the Canadian branch without an LMIA.

Investors – European investors who have made substantial investments in a new or existing business in Canada and come to Canada to develop and lead the business.

Contract service providers and independent professionals – This CETA category is for certain service providers and independent professionals.

Television and Film

TV and film productions can bring essential personnel to Canadian soil through the category of  TV and Film Production Work Permit.

Foreign and Canadian manufacturing companies can use this work permit category to bring talent to their Canadian location if they can demonstrate that the work to be done by the foreign national is necessary for production.

Business Visitors

Business visitors can enter Canada to conduct business or commerce without the need for a work permit. This exemption may apply to individuals who come to Canada to attend a conference, purchase Canadian goods or services for a foreign organization, train employees, or train for work to be done outside of Canada, among others. They may also provide after-sales or rental services.

Some of the general criteria for qualifying as a business visitor are:

Planned stay in Canada is less than six months;

the foreign national is not planning to enter the Canadian labor market and the main place of income or source of income and profit is outside Canada; and

The foreign national meets Canada's basic entry requirements, including a valid passport, sufficient money to finance the entire stay and return home, and is not criminally or medically inadmissible.

Business visitors may need a Temporary Residence Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to cross the border.

After-Sales or Rental Services

If a worker comes to Canada to repair and service, supervise installers or step up and test commercial or industrial equipment (including computer software), they may not need a Canadian work permit. Persons engaged in such work may be considered business visitors.

Installation does not include hands-on installation, which is usually performed by civil or civil servants such as electricians or pipefitters.

After-sales or rental services also apply to individuals who come to repair or service special equipment purchased or leased outside of Canada, provided the service is performed as part of an original or extended sales contract, lease or rental contract, warranty, or service contract.

Includes situations where a sales or rental agreement or purchase order is a software upgrade to operate previously sold or leased equipment. In addition, a service worker who comes to Canada to install, configure or train upgraded software may be considered a business visitor.

Applied construction and civil works are not covered by this provision.

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