High-wage LMIA is a reliable solution for Canadian companies to hire foreign workers. This program can help address challenges like high turnover rates, disengagement, employee loyalty, diversity, and salary expectations. With proper planning, you can get your employee in Canada within 6 months and retain them for as much as 3 years or even permanently if supporting their permanent residence application. In this detailed article, you will find answers to all your questions about the high-wage LMIA application process.
The program may appear challenging, especially if seeing it for the first time. Still, with enough resources and proper guidelines, it can be an immediate relief to address skilled labour shortages. At Sobirovs Law Firm, we ensure that hiring international talent is fast and easy so your business can continue growing despite the labour shortages. Schedule a consultation today!
Definition of High-Wage LMIA Workers
High-wage LMIA workers are foreign workers earning above the prevailing wage level in their occupation based on the province they are working in. High-wage LMIA workers can be from any country, but they need relevant experience based on the job description, speak in English or French, be in good health, and have a clean criminal record.
The Canadian company has full flexibility to hire foreign workers in any occupation without any limitations on how many foreign workers they can bring in a single year. The workers can come to work in almost every occupation as long as they are offered a salary at the prevailing wage level.
What is the Prevailing Wage for High-Wage LMIA Workers?
The prevailing wage is the median hourly wage depending on the region and occupation. High-wage LMIA workers must be paid a salary equal to or above that amount.
As of today, the general provincial prevailing wages are as follows (as of May 31, 2023):
|Prince Edward Island
|Newfoundland and Labrador
High-Wage LMIA Requirements
General requirements for high-wage LMIA applications ask for a completed application form, proof of recruitment and a detailed summary of recruitment efforts, a couple of documents from the business proving active business operations and ability to pay foreign worker’s salary, and payment of a government processing fee of CAD $1,000 per position.
Canadian Employer Requirements
Canadian companies that apply for a high-wage LMIA will be evaluated to ensure that the business and the job offer are genuine and legitimate: meaning that the Canadian company is operational, has the financial ability to support the salary of the foreign worker, and the position requested in the high-wage LMIA application aligns with the needs of the business.
In specific, the Canadian company will be assessed to confirm that:
- It is providing a product or a service in Canada – meaning it is a Canadian-registered and operating business.
- It is offering employment that’s consistent with the reasonable needs of the business – meaning that the position that is being requested with the high-wage LMIA application aligns with the business’s needs.
- It can fulfill all terms of the job offer – meaning the Canadian company has the financial ability to pay the foreign worker’s salary and provide a workspace safe from abuse.
- It has no compliance issues and is not on the list of ineligible employers.
Canadian companies in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba must also obtain a provincial employer registration certificate that provides additional authorization to hire foreign workers. This certificate must be obtained before a high-wage LMIA application can be submitted.
Learn all about Canada’s Global Talent Stream
Canadian companies outside those provinces can submit a direct high-wage LMIA application without obtaining additional certificates.
Foreign Worker Requirements
Luckily for Canadian companies, Canadian immigration policies don’t impose any limits or quotas on how many high-wage foreign workers Canadian companies can bring. In addition, there is no limitation on what countries can be considered to hire high-wage foreign workers from.
Otherwise, the general requirements for the foreign workers are as follows:
- Must have relevant education, matching work experience, and additional professional certifications, if applicable
- Be able to speak in English or French to perform their job duties
- Be admissible to Canada, meaning they are not in violation of any inadmissibility factors as specified by Canadian immigration law.
Find out about viable Canada Tech Visa options.
Processing Time for High-Wage LMIA Applications
Based on our experience, the processing time for high-wage LMIA applications is 8 weeks after the application has been submitted. However, Service Canada often updates their statistics on average LMIA processing times based on the actual number of applications. As of April 2023, Service Canada committed to streamlining high-wage LMIA applications in an expedited matter by creating an online portal for application submissions.
Remember that before application submission, 4-week mandatory recruitment must be counted with the application processing time. We strongly recommend that this time is used to prepare the high-wage LMIA application and collect the mandatory documents so that the application is ready for submission once the 4-week recruitment period is completed.
Application Process for High-Wage LMIA Workers
The process for high-wage LMIA applications is relatively straightforward: first, you initialize the recruitment period, which must last at least 4 weeks. Once the advertisements are posted, use the time to prepare the high-wage LMIA application by initializing it on the online portal and collecting relevant documents.
During the third week of advertisements, start reviewing applicants’ resumes that applied for the position and screen those that are Canadian citizens and permanent residents. If the recruitment efforts were unfruitful, then proceed to submit the application. Below you can find more details on each step associated with the high-wage LMIA application.
Milestone 1: Mandatory 4-week recruitment
- Start by registering for a Job Bank employer account as it may take some time
- Work on the advertisement drafts to match program requirements
- Publish the advertisements on Job Bank and 2 additional sources and save the advertisement printouts as PDF documents – this will be used as proof to show the date when advertisements were posted
- Once the advertisements are posted, they must run for 4 weeks – this means, you have 4 weeks to initiate the application in the portal and review questions in the application form
- During this time, ask the company’s accountant, general counsel, or whoever has access to corporate documents to collect mandatory supporting documents
- On the second or third week of recruitment, complete Job Match on Job Bank to invite applicants with a rating of 4+ stars and review resumes that came through to see whether any eligible Canadians applied
- If no eligible Canadian candidate was identified, submit the application and await further emails from ESDC
- The first point of contact will collect payment of the application processing fee (CAD 1,000 per position)
- The second point of contact will request additional information or request to schedule an interview
- The final point of contact would be a decision letter
Did you know that most High-Wage LMIA applications get refused due to poorly prepared advertisements? As such, it is very important to get this portion right from the beginning so that your efforts are not wasted, and time is not lost.
In terms of other sources, you can use LinkedIn, the company’s career page, or a physical posting on a job board in a headhunting agency – as long as the target audience would be assumed to have the appropriate education, professional experience or skill level required for the role.
One of the methods used must be national in scope, and easily accessed by residents of any province or territory, as people in high-wage positions are often mobile and willing to relocate for work.
Once you had identified your platforms for posting the job, you must use this guideline to structure your advertisements and include the following information:
- company operating name
- business address
- title of the position
- job duties
- terms of employment (for example, project-based, permanent position)
- skills requirements (includes education and work experience)
- language of work (must be English or French, for any foreign language requirement, there must be a strong rationale behind how it is relevant to the job and the business)
- wage (must include any incremental raises, performance pay or bonuses), ensuring that it meets the prevailing wage of the position in the required region
- benefits package offered
- location(s) of work (local area, city or town)
- contact information, including telephone number, cell phone number, email address, fax number or mailing address of the hiring person
You will then do the same on the day you submit the High-Wage LMIA application to show that the advertisements ran for 4 weeks.
Until then, you will need to keep a spreadsheet to document how many Canadian citizens and permanent residents applied for the job. The ones that meet minimum job requirements, must be invited for a further interview.
On the Job Bank platform, you must complete a Job Match function within the first 30 days from the day the advertisement was posted. All applicants rated with 4 stars and above, must be invited to apply.
Once the 4 weeks are completed and no Canadian national was identified for the job, you can proceed with the High-Wage LMIA application including your recruitment findings.
The recruitment findings must specify how many Canadians applied for the job, how many were interviewed, reasons they were not offered the job.
In the rare event that you find a suitable candidate through recruitment efforts, you must schedule them for an interview and identify whether they can be a perfect fit for the position.
If they turn out to be the perfect match for the role, then you must offer the position to them. Should they accept, then you must decide whether you still want to bring the foreign worker, or you want to abandon the LMIA process. If the Canadian candidate doesn’t accept your offer, then you can proceed with the LMIA application to hire your foreign worker.
A kind reminder that you must keep records of recruitment for 6 years, including interview records and copies of offer letters that were sent to potential Canadian candidates.
The application form is broken down into 4 main parts:
Part 1: basic information about the company per CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) records such as the name, business number, address, contact information, current number of employees and primary business activity.
Part 2: primary employer’s information – it can be a member of HR or Talent Acquisition team or anyone that will be the most involved in this application process and will be able to respond to ESDC.
Part 3: information about the position such as the title, job duties, salary, benefits, education and experience requirements, rationale behind why this position is required and what socio-economic benefits can the company expect by hiring this foreign worker.
Part 4: recruitment efforts – what sources were used for recruitment, dates of active advertisement periods, and statistics on how many Canadian candidates applied, how many were invited for an interview, how many declined a job offer, how many accepted the job offer, and how many applied but were not invited for an interview and why.
Some activities that can be considered under the transition plan are:
- Creating employee referral programs
- Improving benefits program by adding more incentives
- Build partnerships with headhunting or recruitment agencies
- Create direct training programs for junior employees to work and learn from the foreign worker
- Maintain ongoing recruitment efforts for the same position to continuously invite applicants to apply for the job
- Covering the cost of the foreign worker’s permanent residence application
- Offering time off during the weekdays for the foreign worker to obtain mandatory documents from government bodies
- Covering the cost of English or French lessons if applicable
- Providing all mandatory employer documents in support of the permanent residence application
The Canadian company must prove that it provides a good or a service by submitting at least 1 of the documents proposed below:
- A valid municipal/provincial/territorial business license
- Most recent T4 Summary of remuneration paid
- Most recent PD7A Statement of account for current source deductions
- An attestation letter prepared by a licensed lawyer, notary or Chartered Professional Accountant in good standing with their respective professional bodies
- Most recent T2 Schedule 100 Balance sheet information and T2 Schedule 125 Income statement information
- Most recent T4 or payroll records for a minimum of 6 weeks immediately prior to the submission of this LMIA application, if the foreign worker already works for you
- An attestation letter prepared by a licensed lawyer, notary or Chartered Professional Accountant in good standing with their respective professional bodies
- Most recent T2042 Statement of farming activities
- Most recent T2125 Statement of business or professional activities
- Most recent T3010 Registered charity information return
If the Canadian company was issued a positive LMIA decision letter in the past 2 years, then the Canadian company can be exempted from submitting additional supporting documents listed above.
After the application is received, a financial clerk will contact you to obtain credit card information to complete the payment of the mandatory application processing fee of CAD 1,000 per position. Upon successful transaction, you will receive an email with the receipt and confirmation that the LMIA application was assigned an application number.
From that moment, you can expect to wait approximately 6 to 8 weeks until the ESDC officer reaches out with a request for additional information or a request to schedule an interview.
Then, the interview will transition into the position that is being requested in this LMIA application and the recruitment effort results.
And at last, the ESDC officer will confirm the transition plan activities, leave some time for questions and work on finalizing the application.
The foreign worker can apply independently or can seek advice from a licensed immigration practitioner to assist with the preparation and submission of the work permit.
Once the work permit is approved and the foreign worker lands in Canada, they must immediately apply for and obtain a Social Insurance Number. As an employer, it is also your responsibility to ensure that you have those documents on file as they will indicate the validity period until when the foreign worker can work for you.
On the first day of work you must provide your foreign worker with the signed job offer letter (if they were not provided with one yet) and this infomercial from ESDC and IRCC.
Employer compliance is a set of rules and guidelines that Canadian companies must follow to ensure that foreign workers receive equal treatment as Canadian employees and that their rights are protected.
Overall, ESDC looks at the following conditions to ensure that Canadian companies:
- Comply with all federal, provincial, and/or territorial laws that regulate employment and recruiting.
- The foreign worker obtains a signed offer letter on the first day of work (or earlier) that clearly outlines all relevant details associated with their employment.
- All relevant records concerning the high-wage LMIA application are kept for 6 years.
- This includes any recruitment records that were conducted for the role (if there were any), communication threads with the applicant, communication records with any third party involved in this process, the submitted application, expenses, communication threads with the ESDC officer, copy of the final decision letter, and anything else that is relevant.
- Commitment to executing the activities that were agreed on in the transition plan.
- Inform ESDC of any changes to the foreign worker’s employment conditions.
- Providing a safe working environment to the foreign worker that is free of abuse and has proper safety measures depending on the industry standards.
- Maintain the same employment conditions set out in the high-wage LMIA application and the signed offer letter.
- The company remains engaged in the same business for the duration of the foreign worker’s work permit.
- For example, if the business gets acquired or re-branded, the foreign worker may need a new GTS to accurately reflect employment records.
- The fees associated with recruitment and bringing the foreign worker to Canada (for example High-Wage LMIA service fees and/or work permit fees) are not recovered, directly or indirectly, from the foreign worker.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find answers to our most commonly asked questions about hiring high-wage LMIA foreign workers:
Is it difficult to get a high-wage LMIA approved?
When a high-wage LMIA is prepared properly from preparing advertisements for the recruitment period, and the business is a legitimate operational business in Canada, it is not difficult to get this application approved.
What is the prevailing wage for high-wage LMIA?
The prevailing wage is the median hourly wage of the position depending on the region of employment. If the offered wage is above the provincial prevailing wage, the LMIA will be high-wage. Please see the Prevailing Wage section for the prevailing wage per province in 2023.
What job positions are eligible for high-wage LMIA?
As long as the offered wage is above the provincial prevailing wage, almost any job position can be eligible for a high-wage LMIA. Generally speaking, white-collar and high-skilled managerial positions fall under high-wage LMIA. However, depending on the job description, administrative roles can be considered under high-wage LMIA.
What salary do I need to offer to foreign workers with high-wage LMIA?
As a minimum, the foreign worker must be offered a prevailing wage for their occupation depending on the geographical location of their employment. If you have additional requirements for the role that are not considered standard, you must offer a higher rate.
What happens if the position is part of the union?
If the position is part of the union, then the same conditions that extend to unionized workers must apply to foreign workers. It is also important to keep ESDC updated if there will be a salary increase for the foreign worker.
How long does it take to obtain a high-wage LMIA?
High-wage LMIA works in two important milestones: a 4-week recruitment period and a 6 to 8 weeks application processing period. If calculating the recruitment period, you can expect 10 to 12 weeks to obtain a high-wage LMIA decision letter from the moment advertisements are posted.
Is there a fee for a High-Wage LMIA application?
There is a mandatory filing fee of CAD 1,000 per position in a high-wage LMIA application. If you are planning to use the legal services of immigration lawyers, you can expect an additional service fee depending on what services you will require.
What are the requirements to get a high-wage LMIA?
First and foremost, the Canadian company must be active and operational with enough resources to support the foreign worker’s salary. Second, the Canadian company must not be on the list of ineligible employers. Third, prepare the advertisements to meet ESDC’s program requirements. And lastly, submit an accurate and honest application using the LMIA online portal and submit supporting documents.
Can I apply for multiple high-wage LMIAs?
Yes – there is no limit to how many high-wage LMIA applications you can submit. You can also submit 1 high-wage LMIA application requesting multiple positions. This can work only if you request identical positions in relation to the title, job duties, salary and job location.
Are there any restrictions on the duration of employment for high-wage LMIA positions?
Yes – the high-wage LMIA allows the employment of foreign workers from one (1) to three (3) years.
Can I extend a high-wage LMIA?
While you can’t extend a high-wage LMIA, you can submit a new high-wage LMIA to extend the employment period of the foreign worker. Please be mindful that the foreign worker will require a new work permit in association with a new high-wage LMIA.
Is it mandatory to advertise the position before applying for a high-wage LMIA?
Yes, it is a mandatory and important milestone for high-wage LMIA applications. Improper advertisements and recruitment efforts are one of the most common reasons for high-wage LMIA refusal.
What happens if I find a suitable applicant during the advertisement period?
You must interview them for the position and identify whether this applicant is a perfect match. Remember that the suitable applicant must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. If the candidate is a perfect match and accepts your job offer, then it doesn’t make sense to proceed with the LMIA application unless you have a rationale behind why you still need the foreign worker to be in Canada.
What are my obligations as an employer under high-wage LMIA?
Generally speaking, as an employer, you must ensure that all conditions set out in the high-wage LMIA application and signed job offer letter remain the same throughout the foreign worker’s employment. For more details, please see our section above on employer compliance.
What are the consequences of non-compliance with high-wage LMIA regulations?
The consequences of non-compliance can vary depending on the severity of a violation. Starting from a warning, it can go up to monetary penalties ranging from up to $100,000 per violation to a maximum of $1 million per year, and for most serious violations, you can expect a permanent ban from submitting subsequent high-wage LMIA applications.
Can a foreign worker apply for permanent residency based on a high-wage LMIA?
A high-wage LMIA can help foreign workers increase their chances for permanent residency. However, each case is very individual when it comes to permanent residence. As such, we recommend contacting an immigration lawyer to assess the foreign worker’s chances for permanent residency.
Do I need to keep the foreign worker for the entire duration of their work permit?
Not necessarily – if the foreign worker fails to meet the responsibilities and duties associated with their job, you can let them go following internal proceedings and ensuring they meet the employment standards of the region or province. As an employer, you are not responsible for maintaining the foreign worker’s employment for the entire duration if they fail to meet job requirements and become a liability.
Are there any alternatives to a high-wage LMIA for hiring foreign workers?
Yes, there are a wide variety of options for Canadian employers to bring foreign workers into Canada without using the high-wage LMIA. Get in touch with us today and learn about the different options available for you!