Labour Market Impact assessment (LMIA) is a program started by the Canadian government to allow Canadian businesses to hire foreign nationals in June 2014.
More details on what the LMIA is can be found on the government website here – What is a Labour market impact assessment?
When an employer applies for a LMIA, they are required to go through a 2-3 month long process, where they have to prove that considerable amount of efforts were made to hire a Canadian Citizen or a Permanent resident to do the job. Upon approval, the business is now all set to hire a Foreign national & sponsor them for an Employer Specific Work Permit.
The foreign worker can apply for an Employer Specific Work Permit which is valid for anywhere between 8-36 months depending on the stream, as well as receiving 50 additional points in their profile in the Express Entry pool of candidates.
The LMIA program was started by the Canadian Government to address critical labour shortages across the country. Community members across Canada are raising concerns of a ‘Job Fraud’ associated with the LMIA’s currently on the rise in the Canadian Job market with increasing uncertainty with the immigration system.
Applicants are supposedly taking part in this illegal process to increase their chances of becoming a permanent resident in Canada.
+1 News conducted interviews with community members and asked to give their insights and share their experiences. Among the people interviewed, +1 News also interviewed an Immigration expert Steven Paolasini, RCIC, B.Eng.
We asked the expert & community members some questions regarding the current situation in the job market in order to get some insights on this situation.
Q- Steven, thank you for joining us today. Could you please tell us about what is going on in the markets today with the LMIA process?
Steven- “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share the current situation with everyone, the current situation is unfortunately not how it was expected by the Policy makers during the development phase of the LMIA process.”
Steven adds, “The LMIA is an expensive & complex process involving a mandatory $1000 fee paid by the employer, it takes 2-3 months and there are certain requirements to prove that the business has made considerable amount of efforts towards hiring a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for the job before applying to hire a foreign national, who then is issued a Work Visa valid for anywhere between 8-36 months depending on the stream.”
“I am seeing LMIAs being sold in the markets for anywhere between $20,000-30,000, and sometimes even above $50,000-$100,000.” claims Steven.
“According to the policy, the mandatory $1000 fee to apply for a LMIA is to be paid by the employer, but that is unfortunately not the case with a big number of applicants out there. LMIA is being treated to be a golden ticket to secure a Canadian Visa and triggering an ITA in the Express Entry system, given the applicant gets 50 points added to their profiles for arranged employment, which significantly raised it’s value in the illegal market of pay-to-work jobs.”
Some community members have claimed that they have raised this ongoing issue with the government authorities and the IRCC countless times, but no action was taken to address this issue.
Sahil Dhingra, an international worker in Canada made some comments & raised his concerns regarding this issue during the interview.
“The consultants who are a part of this job fraud are capitalizing on the applicant’s fear. It is not only illegal but a morally wrong practice. I personally reported a RCIC who was partaking in this illegal practice to Service Canada but no action was taken against them. They still continue their illegal operations and continue to push deserving hard working candidates in jobs where they are more likely to be overworked, abused & underpaid”.
“A colleague of mine who was working as an Assistant Manager at our store, as her post-graduate work permit was nearing it’s expiry, the only option available to extend her stay in Canada as a workers was through the LMIA. She had to pay $20,000 to an employer for them to apply for a LMIA for her so she can apply for a closed work permit. She was forced to quit her job & work at a job which paid her significantly less & she had no control over her schedule. She is now forced to work 60 hours a week & only gets paid for 40 hours”. added Sahil.
Recent studies show that a foreign worker with an employer specific work permit, is more likely to experience abuse in their workplace as compared to a foreign worker with an open work permit. The foreign workers with a closed work permit are only authorized to work for the employer sponsoring them through the LMIA process.
The Canadian government responded with a policy allowing foreign workers with Employer specific work permits facing abuse a possibility to apply for a Vulnerable open Work Permit.
Though this was considered a bandage, a large group of workers currently facing abuse do not dare to speak up.
So far, no concrete actions to stop this illegal practice has been taken from the Government. While the job fraud is on the rise, experts are recommending significant changes to the policies involving the LMIA process.