The Reciprocal Employment LMIA Exemption

Meurrens LawWork Permits

Regulation 205(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations provides that a work permit may be issued to a foreign national without the employer needing to first obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment if the the employment of the foreign national in Canada would create or maintain reciprocal employment of Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada in other countries.

Some obvious examples of where such work permits are frequently issued include in sports leagues such as the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, as well as the Canada World Youth exchange.  International Experience Canada, including its most popular program – the Working Holiday Program – also falls under this Labour Market Impact Assessment, as do reciprocal employment arrangements in academia.

What is less commonly known, however, is that multinational corporations can also take advantage of this Labour Market Impact Assessment exemption.  To qualify, the employer must demonstrate that reciprocity exists.  This can be demonstrated by a work contract (if it provides evidence of reciprocity), a Human Resources Global Mobility Policy that demonstrates a balance of bilateral flow,  and/or other documents that show that Canadian foreign workers benefit from the ability to travel abroad within the company.

As the IRCC website states regarding C-20 work permits it is not necessary that there be exact reciprocity, but the general order of magnitude of exchanges should be reasonably similar on an annual basis.

When the entities involved have no history of conducting reciprocal exchanges with Canada, CIC will initially limit work permits to a small number of individuals and inform employers that subsequent work permits be issued only when reciprocity has been demonstrated.  Officers can consider not only the number of individuals working in Canada and abroad, but also employment duration and job level.

The following is an example of what CIC’s rationale in the approval of an application under this exemption looks like.