LMIA Exemption for Francophones

On June 1, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) released Operational Bulletin 429 (“OB 429“).  OB 429 provides that francophones destined to a province other than Quebec who will be working in a high skilled occupation can receive two year significant benefit work permits.  The benefit of a significant benefit work permit is that no Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA“) is required.

To qualify for the LMIA exemption, applicants must:

  • apply at a visa office outside Canada;
  • have been recruited through Destination Canada or other events coordinated with the federal government and francophone minority communities;
  • be going to work in an occupation which falls under National Occupation Classification 0, A or B;
  • have French as his/her habitual language; and
  • be destined to a province other than Quebec.
Importantly, the job itself does not have to require French.
There does not appear to be any limit on how many times the work permit can be renewed.
Depending how broadly the second requirement is interpreted, this could provide a significant advantage to francophone employers and francophones looking to immigrate to Canada.

The legal justification for providing preferential treatment to francophones intending to work outside of Quebec is based on s. 3(1)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act“), which states that one of the goals of Canada’s immigration system is:

(b) to enrich and strengthen the social and cultural fabric of Canadian society, while respecting the federal, bilingual and multicultural character of Canada;

Although there is no legal reason why this LMIA exemption cannot also apply to anglophones seeking employment in Quebec, people awaiting an Operational Bulletin to this effect hopefully know how to hold their breath for a long time.

[Updated – October 2, 2014]

Please note that the LMIA exemption for Francophones ended on September 30, 2014.

As per the CIC website:

The exemption from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) under the International Mobility Program for skilled Francophone workers destined to work in a province other than Quebec will be discontinued.

All applications received on or before September 30, 2014, 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST) will be processed and finalized as per the guidelines provided below. Applications received after September 30, 2014 will not be accepted. Foreign workers already in Canada will also not be able to request an extension under this exemption after September 30, 2014.


It is not hard to see why IRCC is bringing back the Francophone exemption. As the chart below shows, the percentage of immigrants of Francophone descent outside of Quebec is around 1%.


[Updated – June 2, 2016]

On June 1, 2016, the Government of Canada reintroduced the exemption, with essentially the same requirements as before.


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