Navigating the Canada Work Visa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Application Process and LMIA


By Olushola Samuel

Canada is a sought-after destination for skilled professionals and individuals seeking new employment opportunities. To work legally in Canada, most foreign nationals require a work visa. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of the Canadian work visa application process, shedding light on the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and other crucial information to help you understand the requirements and procedures involved.

1. Understanding the Canadian Work Visa:

A Canadian work visa, also known as a work permit, grants foreign nationals the authorization to work in Canada temporarily. This permit is typically issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and is subject to specific conditions and restrictions.

2. The Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA):

The LMIA is a crucial component of the Canadian work visa application process for most temporary foreign workers. It serves as a labor market verification mechanism, conducted by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), to assess the impact of hiring a foreign worker on the Canadian labor market. The LMIA process involves the employer demonstrating efforts to hire Canadian citizens or permanent residents before considering foreign workers.

3. LMIA-Exempt Work Permits:

While the LMIA requirement is generally applicable, there are certain work permits that fall under LMIA exemptions. These exemptions are based on specific categories such as international agreements, reciprocal employment, and international mobility programs. Some examples of LMIA-exempt work permits include the NAFTA Work Permit, the Intra-Company Transfer Work Permit, and the Global Talent Stream Work Permit.

4. Work Permit Application Process:

To apply for a Canadian work permit, several steps must be followed:

   a. Job Offer: Secure a valid job offer from a Canadian employer. In most cases, the employer must receive a positive LMIA or be LMIA-exempt.

   b. LMIA Application (if applicable): The employer submits the LMIA application to ESDC, demonstrating the need to hire a foreign worker and fulfilling other requirements. LMIA application fee is $1,000 per employee. The employer is to pay the application fees and associated legal service costs. For instance, if the employer is willing to hire 5 foreign employees, the employer would have to file 5 separate applications.

   c. Employer Compliance Fee: The employer may be required to pay an employer compliance fee as part of the LMIA application process.

   d. Work Permit Application: Once the employer receives a positive LMIA or qualifies for an LMIA exemption, the foreign worker can proceed with the work permit application. This involves completing the appropriate forms, providing supporting documents, and paying the necessary fees. The Canada work permit fee is $155 and the price for open work permit is $100.

   e. Biometrics and Medical Examination: Depending on the country of residence, the applicant may need to provide biometrics (fingerprints and photo) and undergo a medical examination.

   f. Processing Time and Decision: The processing time for work permit applications varies. Once the application is reviewed, a decision will be made, and if approved, the applicant will receive a work permit. Generally, it takes about 3-4 weeks to process a Visitor Visa, while a Work Permit might take up to 8 weeks as of June 2023. The government of Canada mentions that if you're not applying for specific occupations your processing time may be longer than 8 weeks

5. Open Work Permits:

An open work permit allows foreign nationals to work for any Canadian employer without the need for a specific job offer. Spouses or common-law partners of certain work or study permit holders, individuals on humanitarian grounds, and certain international graduates may be eligible for an open work permit.

6. Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP):

The PGWP is available to international students who have completed a program of study at a designated learning institution in Canada. This permit allows them to work in Canada for a period equivalent to the length of their study program, up to a maximum of three years.


Obtaining a Canadian work visa involves understanding the various requirements and procedures, including the LMIA process, which plays a crucial role in most cases. Whether you require an LMIA or qualify for an LMIA-exempt work permit, familiarizing yourself with the application process and ensuring you meet the necessary criteria will increase your chances of securing a work permit and experiencing the opportunities that Canada has to offer.

Please note that immigration policies and procedures are subject to change. It is advisable to consult the official website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or seek professional guidance for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

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