Labout Market Opinion or LMO is a letter (sometimes called Confirmation letter) issued by one department of the federal government of Canada. Canadian employers need LMO if they want to hire a temporary foreign worker (TFW). There are very few exceptions to that rule.
When Canadian government (Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) formerly known as HRSDC - Human Resources and Skills Development Canada) issues a positive or neutral LMO that basically means they are satisfied that:
At the present time (late 2013) there are over 330 000 temporary foreign workers in Canada. They are hired by both large and small Canadian companies. They work in skilled occuaptions, semi-skilled and low-skilled occupations, they are managers and supervisors. The number of foreign workers nearly tripled in the past ten years.
In most cases temporary foreign workers are tied to the specific job and the specific employer.
Despite the relatively high unemployment rates in Canada it is clear that Canadian employers heavily rely on internationally trained workers. That trend is likely to continue as baby-boomers retire, Canadian workforce ages and the number of young workers entering the work force is declining.
Foreign workers need a work permit in order to take jobs in Canada (again, there are very few exceptions to this rule as well). Without LMO their applications for work permit would be refused. Therefore Canadian employers must secure LMO for them before foreign workers apply for their work permits and come to Canada to work.
Tens of thousands of LMO applications get approved and denied by ESDC every year.
July 30, 2013 - Several important changes have been announced:
1) Processing fee- Effective July 31, 2013, employers applying to hire TFWs must pay a processing fee of $275 for each position requested to cover the cost of a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).
The LMO processing fee does not apply to positions under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), the Agriculture Stream or on-farm primary agricultural positions listed under National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes 8251, 8252, 8253, 8254, 8256, 8431, 8432 and 8611.
2) Language restriction -
English and French are the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement, both in LMO requests and in advertisements by employers applying to hire TFWs, unless employers can demonstrate that another language is essential for the job.
The language restriction does not apply to positions under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), the Agriculture Stream or on-farm primary agricultural positions listed under National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes 8251, 8252, 8253, 8254, 8256, 8431, 8432 and 8611.
Employers advertising a job for a position that legitimately requires a language other than English or French must clearly demonstrate, in writing, that the language requested is consistent with the regular activities of the job (e.g. a translation company hiring a translator to work in a language other than English or French, a tour company catering to foreign tourists only in a non-official language).
3) New advertising requirements As of July 31, 2013, employers will need to make greater efforts to hire Canadians before they will be eligible to apply for temporary foreign workers. Job must be advertised for a minimum of four weeks.
The new advertising requirements do not apply to:
- the Live-in Caregiver Program;
- positions related to on-farm primary agriculture (specifically under NOC codes 8251, 8252, 8253, 8254, 8256, 8431, 8432 and 8611);
- the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program; or
- the Agriculture Stream.
4) New LMO application -
As of July 31, 2013, the LMO application includes additional questions that must be answered by the employer. These questions were added to help ensure that the TFWP is not used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs.
For all LMOs requested, the TFWP assesses the impact that hiring a TFW will have on Canada's job market, based on available labour market information for the region and occupation.
Why would you want to hire a foreign worker, after all?
As far as Canadian government (Service Canada) is concerned in most cases that could be only for two reasons:
However there is another, from employers' perspective, even more important reason:
Foreign workers are good and reliable workers because foreign workers bet their future and the future of their families on this job!
For them stakes could not be higher. They know that they have to do the job well, work hard and show loyalty to the employer because they do not have much choice - in most cases work permits are employer specific and occupation specific which means foreign workers can work only in one occupation and only for one employer.
Practically all foreign workers want to stay in Canada indefinitely and they want to bring in their families as well. They can do that if they have a job in Canada (see the picture to the right). The immigration process may take sometimes two years, during that time they have to maintain their employment status (in most cases). For that reason foreign workers are reliable workforce.
Unlike Canadian employees foreign workers do not count on generous supply of free money such as employment insurance, social assistance, support from close relatives etc. Canadian employee can quit the job at any time, get a note from the doctor stating he is not able to work for a month or two and he is likely to qualify for EI sickness benefits of 15 weeks. After that they can apply for federally funded training and further extend their benefits. Foreign workers only count on the job they have because that job is the key to their future.
With current unemployment rate in Canada of over 7% many ask why is it that Canadian employers are not able to find qualified candidates among Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Canada?
That is mostly because certain regions in Canada (mostly Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and certain industries (construction, mining etc.) have been facing chronic shortage of skilled labour, for example skilled trades workers. Workers from eastern parts of Canada are not always willing to relocate or even if they do they tend to return back home after some time, leaving vacant positions behing them.
Canadian population is getting older, the average age in Canada according to 2013 census is 41.2. Approximately one third of the population is over the age of 55. With every passing year number of senior citizens will increase. Fertility rate is declining for third year in a row falling to just 1.61 children per woman in 2011. Statistics Canada shows Canada has not met the population replacement level of roughly 2.1 children per woman since 1971.
Youth unemployment in Canada stands at around 15% which is two times higher than unemployment rate for Canadians aged over 25. Why is that? Because Canadian high schools provide young people with only two types of skills: one is to conform to the social norms without asking any questions and the second one is the skill of positive thinking. It takes several years for some young people to realize that neither one of those two skills alone will land them a god job (good meaning one which will allow them to rent an apartment on their own, as opposed to living with several roommates).
Many European high-schools provide vocational training so high school graduates have some marketable skills, this is not the case in Canada. Why? Because high school is free, the designers of the educational system want Canadian young adults to enslave themselves with (student loan) debt at very early age, why would they give out useful set of skills for free? It is much more profitable to import already skilled workers from other countries without investing anything in their education.
Hiring a foreign worker does not come without a unique set of challenges. These are the main ones:
These challenges should not be overestimated: we can help you apply for LMO and we can assist foreign workers with their application for work permit. In some cases foreign workers can apply for work permit at the port of entry to Canada (airports in most cases) and the whole process of Work Permit application may take 30 minutes or so. This is, for example, the case with citizens of Croatia.
Canadian employers should not be overly concerned with points two and three either because at present time (2013) tens of thousands of Canadian employers, big and small, take advantage of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and language and soft-skills issues do not appear to be a major problem at all.
In the course of preparation for LMO application Canadian employers normally do the following:
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) enables employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis to fill immediate skills and labour shortages, when Canadian citizens and permanent residents are not available to do the job.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)/Service Canada is responsible for assessing applications from employers requesting to hire temporary foreign workers (TFW), and issues a labour market opinion (LMO) on the likely impact these TFWs would have on the Canadian job market.
There are several streams within the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Requirements for those programs and assessment process for each individual stream may vary slightly however the basic assessment factors are set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations and they apply to all TFW program streams and programs.
Those streams are:
At the present time (late 2013) it takes 8-12 weeks for Service Canada to process LMO applications. Approximately 1-2 weeks before the end of the assessment process (when employers receive a letter (through fax or mail)) Service Canada officer conducts a telephone interview with the employers.
What are the labour market benefits related to the entry of the foreign worker?
Please click on the image above - new window will open with Youtube video presentation which describes, in quite some detail, the process of obtaining LMO and work permit for jobs in Canada. If you want to watch this presentation in HD quality please click here (new window will open). This presentation is around 50 min long, however description of LMO application process starts at 8 minutes and 48 seconds - feel free to fast-forward to that frame. This presentation was made in 2012, since that time some rules have changed, for example at this time (November of 2013) Canadian employers have to advertise jobs for at least 4 weeks before they submit their LMO application - in this video the old rule was explained - at that time employers had to advertise for at least two weeks. Other information is still relevant.
First option that we offer to Canadian employers is that we take responsibility practically for the whole LMO application process. Yes, employer will still have to provide some basic information about the company and vacant position, review and sign LMO application form, photocopy a couple of documents such as business license and certificate of incorporation and pay Service Canada processing fee.
Employer is also responsible for interviewing (in person or over the phone) any candidates who have applied for the position and have met basic requirements as outlined in the job ads.
This is what we will do:
Second option that we offer to Canadian employers is less expensive one. Canadian employer would be responsible for performing most of the tasks listed under Option A, our role would be to monitor their progress and provide guidance.
If you choose this option we will:
Click on the questions to open panel with answers.
At this time (late 2013) the average processing time for Higher and Lower skilled occupations is 8-12 weeks. In addition to that at least one month of mandatory advertising is required (if employers did not already advertise the position) before LMO application package is submitted to Service Canada.
Yes, there are. Normally jobs have to be advertised for at least four weeks before employers submit their application for LMO however there are several special scenarios when jobs can be advertised for less than four weeks or they don't have to be advertised at all. Service Canada keeps updated list of all those exceptions on their web site.
If you are familiar with the process (in other words if you know what you are doing) it takes at least 10 hours to prepare LMO application package. Normally LMO application packages prepared by MB MIGRATION SERVICES have between 35 and 40 pages which includes the LMO application form and all supporting documents.
In August of 2013 Service Canada introduced $275 processing fee for LMO application. Employers have to pay $275 for each temporary foreign worker indicated in the LMO application form (for example if Canadian employer needs three carpenters the fee will be 3 X $275). There are very few exceptions to that rule. In addition to that employers have to cover the cost of advertising the job (if that particular position is normally advertised on paid job sites such as Workopolis or Monster etc. In many if not most situations job can be advertised on free web site such as Craig's List, Kijiji etc.). Immigration consultants charge their professional fees for assisting employers with their application for LMO.
It depends whether the foreign worker needs temporary resident visa or not; these are general timelines: one month to advertise the position, three months to process LMO application and in case of citizens of Croatia, US etc. who do not need temporary resident visa to enter Canada they can apply for work permit at the port of entry (airport) as soon as they have positive LMO. That would meen the best case scenario is around 4 months before foreign worker starts his job in Canada (if position is not already advertised). If foreign worker needs to apply for work permit at the visa office this may take additional two months or so.
Once issued LMO has validity period of six month. That means that foreign worker(s) named on LMO must apply for their work permit during those six months. Validity period of LMO can not be extended, instead new application must be made.
Yes. Employer needs to fax in their request for cancelation of LMO to Service Canada office which issued LMO. Processing fee won't be refunded.
Yes. If Service Canada becomes aware of some facts/information which are relevant to the LMO decision after they approve LMO they may cancel already issued LMO.
Yes, they can cancel already issued work permit if they establish that information provided by the employer or the foreign worker was not truthful, accurate or complete.
Yes. In some situations they ask employers to provide proof that they provided previously hired foreign workers with wages, hours and working conditions indicated in the employment contract and/or LMO application form before they approve new LMO for another foreign worker.
Service Canada goal is to review 20% of all returning employers however in reality they have manpower to review less than 10% of all employers who apply for more than one LMO in the two years period.
Employer may be prevented from hiring another foreign worker for two years.
Effective January 01, 2014 that is possible. How often it is going to happen is yet to be seen.
No. Foreign worker needs work permit before he/she starts working in Canada. There are (very few) situations when work permit is not required (in that case LMO is not required either), or when work permit is required however LMO is not required. In most situations both LMO and work permit are required before foreign worker can start their job in Canada.
Yes. There is no limit on the number of foreign workers which can be covered by one LMO application however employers have to justify the need for any foreign workers indicated in the LMO application, regardless whether they apply for LMO for one person or for more than one person.
No. One LMO application covers only one NOC code (one occupation) and one location of work. If foreign workers are required for more than one position (or different location of work) than additional LMO applications should be submitted (for each of the occupations/locations).
No. Normally foreign worker(s) name(s) is/are indicated in the LMO application however it is possible to request LMO for, let's say, ten positions and neither of those ten foreign workers are known to the employer at the time LMO application is submitted. Once LMO is approved Service Canada will send one additional document to the employer and employer will use that document to enter foreign worker(s) name(s) and fax it back to Service Canada. This process may take approximately one or two more months.
Canadian employers can apply for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) before a temporary foreign worker (TFW) has been identified. An "Unnamed Labour Market Opinion Confirmation" letter is a positive LMO issued to an employer when no TFW has yet been named. Employers issued an "Unnamed Labour Market Opinion Confirmation" letter have six months to identify any TFWs and have them apply for a work permit. Employers can apply for an "Unnamed Labour Market Opinion Confirmation" letter for one or more positions. However, employers must continue their efforts to recruit Canadians and permanent residents to fill the position(s) indicated on the LMO application until they have selected the TFWs. Attached to the "Unnamed Labour Market Opinion Confirmation" letter is the "Foreign Worker Name Template". Once the TFWs are recruited, the employer will use the template to submit the missing information to HRSDC/Service Canada. HRSDC/Service Canada will issue an official LMO confirmation letter, including the name(s) of the TFWs, once the required information is provided. This confirmation letter is to accompany the TFWs' applications for a work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Information on Service Canada web site indicates normally HRSDC/Service Canada processes and issues the official LMO confirmation letter within five business days after receiving the TFW information. In reality it takes 1 to 2 months for Service Canada do add the name of the TFW to already approved LMO.
Not necessarily. Service Canada is responsible for issuing LMO and another government department is responsible for issuing work permits (CIC). Statistics on HRSDC web site indicate approximately 50% of approved LMOs turn into approved work permits. Anecdotally higher percentage of work permits is approved at the Canadian border than at the visa offices abroad. Hiring foreign nationals who do not need visitor's visa to come to Canada (such as citizens of Croatia) is likely to have higher success rate when it comes to their applications for work permits.
Yes, in certain situations and certain programs employers may apply for LMO to support foreign national's application for permanent resident status in Canada. Such programs, for example, are Federal Skileld Worker program and Federal Skilled Trades program.
Yes, LMO application process is slightly different in the province of Quebec. One of the major differences is that as of recently all LMO applications in the province of Quebec must be submitted in French language, otherwise they won't be processed.
Employer has the last word when it comes to hiring (or not hiring) any of the candidates who respond to the job ads posted by the immigration consultant on behalf of the employer. Immigration consultant is responsible for preparing the job ads (with input and approval from the employer), for posting the vacant position according to Service Canada rules, for collecting all resumes and cover letters and forwarding them all to the employer. Before responses are forwarded to the employer immigration consultant does preliminary review of all receives resumes and creates a report for the employer. For example, if the employer is looking for someone with college diploma and two years of work experience immigration consultant will list the names of all candidates who applied for the job and next to the name indicate that particular applicant did not have required education or work experience (if that is the case). Employers are advised to review all received resumes one more time before they decide which candidates they want to call for an interview. It is employers decision to hire or not to hire any of the job applicants.
Yes, in practically all situations Service Canada officer will call the employer approximately 10 days before the decision is made and discuss the particulars of the LMO application with the employer.
Basically there are three groups of factors which will affect the outcome of an LMO application. Those three groups of factors are:
There is no formal appeal process in place however employer or his representative can fax request for reconsideration to the program manager and provide some additional information/facts which are material for the LMO application and the decision made. In some instances Service Canada reverses their decision and approve LMO after new information is provided.
No. Only authorized representatives (as defined in the subsection 91(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)) can conduct business with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
Authorized representatives are:
No. Only employer and employer's authorized representative will be given information pertaining to employer's application for LMO.
These are the main changes:
If you have any questions about LMO process or you need assistance with your LMO application we will be happy to hear from you. We make every effort to respond to all messages within 24 hours.
You can use the form on this page to send your inquiries or you can .
Our telephone number is 604-616-2299. Our preferred method of cummunication is e-mail.
Milorad Borota is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant with ICCRC registration number R408031. He is the principal consultant at MB MIGRATION SERVICES which is Canadian immigration company based in Vancouver, BC.
This company and this consultant specialize in providing services to Candian employers and temporary foreign workers (applications for LMO, work permits, permanent resident status through Canadian Experience Class and through Provincial Nominee Programs).