Significant Benefit Work Permits

Most work permit applicants to Canada will typically need their potential employer to first obtain a positive or neutral Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA“) before they apply for their work permit.  This is an arduous process which generally requires that the potential employer conduct recruitment, pay a $1,000.00 processing fee, a mandatory interview, and uncertainty for a period of several weeks to months.

However, there are several exemptions to the LMIA requirement.  One of these exemptions is where the entry of the prospective foreign worker would create or maintain significant social, cultural, or economic benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents.  These work permits are typically known as Significant Benefit Work Permits, or C-10 Work Permits.

The CIC website contains guidance to officers who are processing C-10 Work Permit applications. It states that:

… circumstances sometimes present officers with situations where an LMIA is not available, and a specific exemption is not applicable, but the balance of practical considerations argues for the issuance of a work permit in a time frame shorter than would be necessary to obtain the [LMIA] opinion. [Significant Benefit Work Permits are] intended to provide an officer with the flexibility to respond in these situations. It is imperative that this authority not be used for the sake of convenience, nor in any other manner that would undermine or try to circumvent the importance of the LMIA in the work permit process. It is rather intended to address those situations where the social, cultural or economic benefits to Canada of issuing the work permit are so clear and compelling that the importance of the LMIA can be overcome.

Officers should look at the social and cultural benefit of authorizing entry to Canada for persons of international renown, examining whether a person’s presence in Canada is crucial to a high-profile event, and whether circumstances have created urgency to the person’s entry.

For requests for work permits based on significant economic benefit, where entry into the labour market is concerned, all practical efforts to obtain [an LMIA] assessment should be made before C10 is applied. Foreign nationals submitting an application for consideration under C10 should provide documentation supporting their claim of providing an important or notable contribution to the Canadian economy.

As such, the following are factors that officers typically consider:

  • Whether a LMIA is not available, specifically because the balance of practical considerations argues for the issuance of a work permit in a time frame shorter than it would be necessary to obtain the LMIA, and not simply for the sake of convenience;
  • Whether there is another specific exemption available;
  • Whether the social, economic, and cultural benefits to Canada are so clear and compelling that the importance of a LMIA can be overcome;
  • Whether there is an urgency to the person’s entry;
  • Whether the person’s entry is crucial to a high profile event; and
  • Whether all practical efforts to obtain a LMIA were made.

The following are examples of where Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC“) either approved or refused C-10 Work Permit applications.  I note that these are not my cases, as it is not my practice to post my own files on this blog. Rather, these were obtained through an Access to Information Act request.

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It is important to note that although the policy only discusses economic, social, and cultural benefits, it is not uncommon for other benefits to be considered. In this approval, for example, IRCC considered the ecological benefits to Canada of admitting a foreign worker. sigbenmussel


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