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Foreign Workers Lawyers

Are you having trouble hiring the skilled employees you really want? If labor shortages are keeping you from growing your business then it may be time to look outside of Canada’s borders for the top talent you require.

Your company will certainly benefit even if you aren’t facing major labor shortages. Studies show that immigrant entrepreneurs are more likely to innovate than their foreign born counterparts. Perhaps the experience of traveling to a new country and setting up a new life there has expanded the perceptions of these workers, giving them an edge. 

Diversity itself can drive innovation, as innovation happens when people who have wildly different perceptions come together as colleagues.

Temporary Workers

When there are no Canadians or permanent residents available to do certain jobs then Canadian law allows companies to hire foreign workers. Most will need a LMIA, a Labor Market Impact Assessment, which will confirm that these two facts are true.

Permanent Workers

There are multiple programs you can use to bring a permanent worker into the country. The Express Entry, Provincial Nominee, and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot all offer opportunities and pathways for you to tap into the global talent pool. Usually these programs require you to target jobs and roles that have already been identified as shortage roles either at the federal level or the provincial level.

International Students

You can hire international students who have recently graduated from a Canadian college or university. You can even hire them while they’re still in school if you do so for no more than twenty hours a week. You may hire them for co-ops and internships. A post-graduation work permit program also exists.

Labor Market Opinion (LMO)

An LMO is a petition that you as an employer will make to the Canadian government to fill labor shortages with foreign workers. The purpose is to determine whether your proposed hire will help the Canadian labor market or harm it. We can help you make your best case in your LMO assessment.


How can I hire foreign workers who are already in Canada?

In order to hire a foreign worker who is already in Canada you will have to lure talent away from a competing company. The worker must already have a permit and a job with another Canadian employer. In addition that employee’s contract must be nearing completion, or that employee must have an open work permit that allows them to work anywhere in the nation. While the requisite visa applications remain the responsibility of the employee, you may nevertheless still need to request an LMO to proceed.

How can I hire foreign workers residing outside of Canada?

You can either hire them on a temporary basis after a successful LMIA or on a permanent basis by using the federal Express Entry program for skilled workers, the Provincial Nominee Program, or the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.

Each program has its own legal requirements that we’ll be happy to walk you through.

How should I process Canadian foreign worker applications?

You can process a foreign worker’s application the same way you process any other worker’s application. You just need to ensure that you’ve followed all the steps for opening that role to foreign employees before you extend the job offer. You also will need to make sure your worker has the appropriate work visa or work permit before their start date.

What’s the criteria for employers who want to hire foreign workers in Canada?

Most will need an LMIA or LMO. There are some exceptions: a few professions don’t need them. These are:

  • Athletes
  • Aviation accident inspectors
  • Civil aviation inspectors
  • Clergy members
  • Convention organizers
  • Emergency service providers
  • Examiners and evaluators
  • Expert witnesses and investigators
  • Health care students
  • Judges, referees, and other sports officials
  • सैन्य कर्मचारी
  • News reporters & media crews
  • Performing artists
  • Public speakers

You can expect the LMIA or LMO to take up to 6 months. During that time you’ll need to advertise the position in Canada’s job bank and in 2 alternative sources. You usually have to prove you have made an effort to fill the role with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident first.

You’ll need to submit this proof, along with resumes, interviews, and reasons why you haven’t been able to find anyone suitable among the domestic labor pool to Employment and Social Development (ESDC). You’ll also need to submit an employment contractor and a $1000 processing fee for each worker. Finally, you’ll need to pass an interview with ESDC and assist the worker in applying for a work permit.

What is the International Mobility Program?

This program lets you skip the LMIA process entirely. Instead, the employee already has an open work permit that lets them work anywhere in Canada. You may hire someone with an open work permit almost exactly the same way as you’d hire a domestic employee, but you must issue the job offer through Canada’s Employer Portal, and pay a small fee.

What are Trade and Reciprocal Employment Agreements?

This agreement allows business persons from the US or Mexico to enter Canada to sell or service goods without a work permit or an LMIA. These individuals will usually be arriving to offer specific services. This agreement also covers intra-company transfers where a company has branch offices in Canada as well as the US or Mexico.

What are my ongoing responsibilities after hiring a foreign worker?

After hiring the worker you must continue to comply with Canadian immigration law by ensuring the employee’s visas and permits are up to date, and making required deductions from employee pay. In some provinces you will be required to ensure that suitable housing is available for the employee.

Need help tapping into a global talent pool?

While we’ve laid the steps out simply for you the truth is hiring a foreign worker is a complex process. Make sure you get it right by reaching out to our experienced attorneys. We can help both you and your employee meet the legal requirements.

Hiring from India or China? We have attorneys on staff who speak Mandarin and Punjabi.

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